A guest rant by Mary Gray.
Observe, if you will, your local public school. Not the inside. No, take a look at what’s going on
outside — on the school grounds.
Pretty much nothing, right? Oh, there are the large expanses of patchy grass serving no
purpose whatsoever — not functional, not aesthetic, just boring old swaths of blah. And then there’s probably an empty
courtyard, like this one:
It shouldn’t be this way. Picture if you will a school where the potential of the GROUNDS
is fully realized.
A place where student clubs and vocational classes design,
plant, and maintain beautiful school landscapes that include flowering trees,
shrubs, and perennials. And in
doing so, they learn about design, botany, teamwork, and sweat.
Where a portion of the playing fields are given over to
natural playscapes, filled with an array of plant life, where kids could play tag
among the trees or observe a butterfly in the act of pollination. And minds as well as bodies are
Where science teachers help their students design and build
a rain garden, or a planted swale.
And everyday, students see how something they built has made their
environment healthier and more beautiful.
Where English teachers lead students out of their cinder-block
classrooms and into the open-air to enjoy reading Walden or Leaves of Grass the
way the authors intended.
Where kids research and plant natives and then inventory the
visiting insects and birds.
Where seeds are planted and harvests reaped, both literally
So am I just a crazy dreamer or are most schools wasting
what could be an incredible inspiration and resource for learning? School grounds offer an array of
educational opportunities for creative teachers, administrators, and parents, and it’s the kind of learning which would exercise not only
the mind, but the body, the imagination, the senses.
So what are we waiting for?