February 19, 2008
This year, I have decided to teach my son the complete seasonal cycle of a tree. I picked a fruit tree for the following reasons:
- Fruit trees bloom early
- They set a tangible, recognizable fruit
- The qualities of the tree will stimulate the senses: smell, taste, touch
The victim, er uh, subject, is a lone Kieffer Pear at the bottom of a short road embankment near our neighborhood. The tree is in the street right-of-way, making the pear a 'public' tree. We don't want to be trespassing, now, do we? Since we roll by the tree regularly on both walks and drives, my son and I will be able to monitor the tree as it blooms, breaks leaves, produces fruit, and turns color. The grand climax, of course, will be picking some pears and feasting on the fruits of the tree's labor.
Creating an extended relationship between a student and his subject of study is one of the most effective and exciting teaching methods. It is far better than the typical institutional model, where a kid's exposure to outdoor plants and trees consists of a few crammed field trips to an urban nature center.