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garden, watching tiny seedlings develop into beautiful plants, playing under
dancing ﬂowers while butterﬂies ﬂoat on the breeze and bumblebees zip past
This book tells you everything you need to get started. While we won’t
give you all the answers, we will share basic information with you and share
activities you can try. You will discover much on your own as you take the
children on a journey into the world of gardening.
What the Administrator Needs to Know
Earlier in this chapter, we discussed the fact that children are spending less
time outdoors than ever before. Through our work in higher education, we
have discovered that the young adults who are moving into teaching positions
may have also grown up without spending much time outside or have dis-
tanced themselves from nature since their younger years.
I teach a class at Southeast Missouri State University that includes, for many of
my students, their first formal experience with preschool-age children. Each week
they work three hours in the classroom at our lab school, and they attend a two-
hour lecture class with me. Observing these students has given me insight into the
way they see nature and the outdoors.
In one class session, the students are asked to compare learning experiences
that hold intellectual integrity with experiences that do not. I have the students
conduct some of the experiments with earthworms that are included in this book
(pages 201–205). As the years have passed, I have noticed that fewer and fewer
students will even touch a worm, much less pick one up. Consistently, the students
discuss how “gross” and “disgusting” the worms are. In recent semesters, if I can
get two students out of thirty to touch a worm, it is a good night.
I had pretty much adapted to the fact that most of my students were never
going to like worms, when a few years back I was showing a slideshow on environ-
ments. My intent was to help the students understand how environments influence
how we feel and how we behave. I showed a series of photos and asked them how
they would feel and how they would behave in the places in the photos—a formal
restaurant, a picnic spot by a lake, a traffic jam. Their responses were predictable.
Then I showed a slide of a photo from our garden at Southern Illinois University.
A teacher was sitting on a blanket inside a sunflower house, reading a book to
some children. The photo made me feel warm and happy. I expected it to make the
students feel good too. “How does this make you feel?” I asked. “Yuck,” was the
response, not just from one student but a chorus. I was shocked. “Why ‘Yuck’?” I
asked. “Bugs, messy, dirty,” they replied.
Why Garden? • 17