You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the learning out of the teacher.
One of the reasons I have become disillusioned with education is because I think we have forgotten how we learn best. Traditional education puts people into a room and asks them to study things theoretically for years. Modern education movements are trying to infuse a bit of humanity and “reality” into the classroom, but it is still a classroom. And the obsession for virtual learning sickens my soul (not for the remote regions of developing countries) but for the majority of my students who don’t need more screen time and don’t lack for opportunity or privilege. What they do lack is practical skills. Things that are learned by living life out in the world.
I notice the impulse, even in myself, to study things on-line, but this project is antithetical to that. Not neglecting the resources available on the internet, but not forsaking the vast knowledge that is retained in the minds and hands of the many farmers, cooks, matriarchs and guardians of the ancient lessons. Because it is in that way that I believe the best lessons are transferred; hand to hand, mouth to mouth.
Learning by doing engages my body and my mind, my heart and my soul in a way that classroom learning and digital learning never has.
To study agriculture without getting your hands dirty can’t be as can’t teach you as much as the sweat, the soil stuck under your fingers and the stories that are shared in the fields. I want to connect with people. I don’t want to just download what I am looking for. I want to have to work for it, to process it myself until I have made it my own. I want to roll it around in my mouth, taste it, chew it and digest it (metaphorically and in this case literally too).
So in this moment I sit in my classroom, but I would rather be in a garden, or a kitchen sweating with dirty hands listening to stories from old women and working with my hands to make something. It is my hope that we can all get back out into the light, remember what our hands are for, remember what hard work feels like and how it relaxes the soul too exert the body and how good a meal tastes when prepared and shared among friends.