Thursday, October 09, 2008

education overload

I'm drowning in education. I forgot how busy fall is, and how quickly it goes! A month ago school started, which means that I began teaching high school classes and began taking graduate courses. This weekend I'm going to a conference which will educate me on how to educate others. I spend my free time talking about my students and curriculum. If I remembered my dreams I'm sure I would tell you that I'm dreaming about school. So, education is my life.

This month's carnival isn't about math education though (what I get paid to do). The APLS carnival for October asks "How do you educate yourself about sustainable living? How do you pass that knowledge on to others? Do you educate your family members and friends? Are you a member of environmental organizations? Do you do volunteer work?" These questions are surprisingly similar to asking any of these with 'sustainable' replaced by 'math.' I think the best way to learn anything is to do it. So, when I wanted to learn how to grow veggies, I planted a whole bunch. They didn't all produce, and I had to solve lots of problems as I went along, but I learned far more than I could have by reading about gardening. When I joined Riot for Austerity I started by calculating my current usage, and then opened my eyes to where and how I was using resources with every step I take. There were plenty of times when I got an idea reading a blog or newsletter (and I do subscribe to a lot of both), but I didn't really learn how it worked until I did it.

I pass knowledge on to others in many of the same ways I do in my classroom (and often I'm passing on sustainability info this way while in the classroom). I provide motivation (why should I do anything?) before throwing out random ideas. I lead by example. I acknowledge that I most certainly don't have all of the answers, but that's the whole fun of it. I provide positive reinforcement when I notice improvement. I seek opportunities to learn new strategies from others. And I offer direct instruction only when neccessary and requested. I'm not here to force my opinions on anyone, but I believe strongly in what I do, and I want to help people realize that they want to join in. I have been surprised by some peoples' willingness to accept what I do, or others eagerness to share their accomplishments with me. These are the shining moments in a teacher's life- when their students are engaged and proud!

The majority of my education comes through personal interactions. These are frequently the most effective ways to produce changes. I am certainly seeing us reach the tipping point where eco-conscious thought is becoming mainstream and what is expected. This has happened because there are enough of those 'weird environmentalist people' in the community to make it seem normal. However, there are still major changes that need to occur, and these will require mass effort to influence major corporations and government representatives. At this point, we need to get organized and send clear messages. This is where the glory of the internet comes in. Groups like Avaaz,, 1sky, Oxfam and ONE are bringing huge numbers of people together. I belong to many email lists like these, where I can take action and contact the leaders who they think have the ability to instigate major chages. It does make a difference if I email my senator about whatever issue is on my mind. It makes an exponentially larger impression when vast numbers of people all speak up about the same issue. Organized action to educate our representatives on the concerns of the community is yet another way I'm actively involved in my concern for the future of our world.

So, it's probably fair to say that everything I do is done through the lens of an educator. My brain is incapable of snapping out of teacher mode, and I think this is a good thing. I look forward to a lifetime filled with teaching and learning on a variety of topics, which will certainly always include sustainable living.


  1. Haha! Everything I do is through the mind of a teacher, too.

    And I subscribe to "Learning by doing" as well.

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