Classrooms Exist Around Us

Imagine Longwood Gardens , 1,100 acres, and visiting a garden that seems to to triple that, but is only 130 acres, This will give you an idea of the overwhelming immensity and beauty that is the Huntington. Stepping off the bus you are hit with green weverywhere, a combination of flowers, trees, soil, bushes, ivy, shrubs, landscaping that simply is not familiar and this carries so much weight alone, in discovering something new. Peaking your interest, a bell ringer say in a lesson.

What draws you in further is the arrangement and depth of the whole layout.  Imagine a Lord of the Rings set, where you can actually dive into paths, lose yourself in meditation, smells, and discoveries of education that want you to come back, and seeing individuals of all ages drawn in from amazing layouts of educational materials, fauna, flora, and the outdoors having everything to do with this. 

If this same approach, was given in detail to lessons involving students and education, the whole idea of education and a little of Montessori changes, and stimulation of wanting more of an education is revealed.  To do this, educators, not just teachers, need more time to enhance the material that will do just that, draw learners in.  I thought this every step of the way as I walked and admired the beauty I came to know as Huntington.  The borders did not exist in many cases, the blurring of growth and mad made structures became lost, you sense the metaphor here, correct?  When the blurring of learning and fascination. interest occur, a heightened sense of wonder results.

As soon as I came onto the grounds from the bus, and aside from the painting-like views of trees, shrubs, flowers, what drew me in was the need for quenching my thirst after being what seemed forever on a bus from the airport.  I immediately was drawn in to the Red Car café,

and probably had what was the best Chai tea latte I can remember, and the whole café just oozed welcome. 

It was delicious and a wonderful welcome to Huntington.  The first thought I had was immediately of parks like Parque Mexico and Parque Espana in Mexico City, were growth and parks, and businesses, and streets sometimes can get lost in each other.  So was the landscape here.

Seeing the mountains of Los Angeles framing the landscape of paths that wandered every direction you could imagine, the amazing waterfalls and fountains providing the soundtrack of your walk, this was a living classroom.  Strewn throughout the campus were amazing sculptures, the indoor Conservatory spaces teemed with fish, sprouts, interactive portals of learning, makeshift classrooms, kiosks that blended into the landscape.  Libraries and classrooms mimicking this model would far out scale any learning environment that exists.

The style of the types of fountains, garden beds, and new types of plants amazed me and then, there was the children’s garden…and amazing bushes that seems straight out of Alice in Wonderland. I could have stayed all day in the Children’s Garden and so seemingly could the adults.  I think the more elementary style skills combined with high school level constructs makes overall learning that much more appealing.

The ability to see the misting systems in place, the tunnels, the structures, the shadows, the secrets of the Japanese and Chinese gardens, the models of the overall grounds on display, the amazing restaurants planted in the middle of the gardens (Jade Court café), how to craft a garden displays, and….the library…

I was lucky enough to stumble across Ms Wong, the docent in the exapanisve and amazing Japanse Garden – who explained the amazing library that existed, allowing members to try their hand on mimicking traditional writing on rice paper, seeing and interacting with the traditional instruments and learning some amazing insights – such as the fact that the wooden architcture seens around windows, trees, etc.. serves as an aeshetic border – framing a work of art. Looking at the curved nature of the roofs to imitate an expression of art as well as functionality, understanding that every rock placed was placed after careful inspection of its size, shape, etc, and the infusion of education and skill in all aspects of music, the alphabet, and much much more.

From the Japanese House, to the Tea House, to the Bonsai collection, to the Zen Court, all nine acres of the Japanese garden was breathtaking, and only one garden amid many as I took in the educational possiblities of the Huntington. We are lucky to have similar areas like Newton Woods, and the Vince Morris Nature Trail at Chapel Branch, all parts of our Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy. Similar to the breathtaking discoveries found each step of the way at the Huntington, the similar discoveriers and A HA! moments occur when you personnaly will the opportunity to slow down, and take what is in frm around you.

The possiblities that existed from this outdoor classroom set the tone for the Humanities Conference what is possible in communities, and what Humanities means in the form of eduction, opporrtunity, and community. This was absolutely fitting and stunning to see the breadth, scope, and depth of so many exciting, living, eclectic avenues for learning containid in an environmental classroom – which is the connection I thought all along about what the Delaware Humanities and the environments around us can do together. Motivate, educate, learn, and create are just a few paths we can all walk on and contintu to discover partnerships together in meeting needs, understanding changing ecosystems, and facilitating growth in education and improving our environment around us.

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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