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Student 24's blog

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Eco-Sex Education: 
The (Forgotten?) Notion that at the End of the Day (Beginning of the Night), We Are All Human(s)*

I want to preface this paper by saying a few things about my growing understanding of ecological thought. I have found that this process of thought is really about process of thought itself. Ecological education is a space where I study the process of my thinking, what triggers my thinking, where it pulls me, from what it pushes against, the ravines into which I fall, and the valleys in which I find myself hopelessly spinning (or wondrously dancing, depending on the atmosphere), where I can sit on the stump of a fallen tree or city street curb and embrace the full access I have to my own mind, style, and words. As a 360, we have well discussed the notion of education not needing to be confined in the walls (be they plaster-white or flashy with rainbow alphabet trains and glamourous posters illustrating parts of speech or the quadratic formula) of a classroom. Education and learning happen everywhere else too: watching clouds in the sky, sitting in a city park, smoking in a jazz club, browsing through a yellow-paged bilingual dictionary, and twiddling your thumbs during a Ukrainian Catholic mass drenched with incense and harmonies of perfect fifths. Most fundamentally, though, it occurs within my mind and my body. If that is the fundamental, then I need to begin there. This paper may feel segmented, but then, life occurs in segments and unrelated events and thoughts. The only thing sometimes connecting events is the passage of time within the body experiencing the events, and that fluidity itself is often what causes connections to make sense.

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Birds and bees, baby. Birds and bees.

Last week it hit me that all these discussions about ecological education and literacy and curriculum design are missing (at least) one thing. What happened to Sex. Ed.? Health class? Family Life talks? Self-Care lessons? Sexual education, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of growing up, learning about your place in the grand natural scheme of things, and creating awareness of choices and decisions about your own physical, social, emotional and spiritual body.

When it comes to outdoor spaces as places of learning and education, I immediately think of birds and bees. I never personally encountered this 'talk' as a child, only having heard it referenced in movies, but out of curiosity I researched a bit about the lessons that are teaching sexual reproduction through natural, outdoors creatures and their actions. The fertilization of flowers bees carrying pollen represents males' ability to "pollenate" females, and egg-laying birds represent female's fertility and eggs. Another way to represent the action is that the bee stings the bird and as a result, the bird lays the eggs from which babies hatch (Yikes! Connotations of aggression, much?). 

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Novel Content

"I've had thoughts but not written anything. I am happy and at peace, though, so it's alright. I am tired and don't want to find problems." That's all I wrote in the pocket notebook I carried all day with me on our trip in Wissahickon. I feel like I always push myself to try and find issues with things; keep myself from totally enjoying an experience. But cynicism is exhausting, and I was truly happy during our trip - I don't want to steer away from that. Perhaps, though, I don't know how to write about happiness?

Being content isn't triggering enough to get me to write. Is that okay?

Would we be in school if everything in the world was right, and everyone was happy? Would we learn about economics if the system was working smoothly and had no problems? Can you write a novel without the conflict, struggle, and difficulty that lead to resolution, or some sort of conclusion?

I don't really have much to say.

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Teddy, do I need access to twenty kinds of cereal and toothpaste?

Response to Chapter Four: "What is imaginative ecological education?" (having missed class)

I was pleasantly surprised at the turn of every page how most of the questions I'd asked in response to one part of the reading would be discussed in the following paragraphs, which reassured me when I'd doubt some of the claims of the reading.

That being said, I'd still like to discuss some of these things myself, or simply point out things that caught my attention.

abstract binary oppositions, metaphor

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Sheep are part of the complex.

A lot was going through my head on Friday as we went on our walk. Transitions between seasons have always made me emotional. I get utterly homesick and nostalgic, not towards any one home or time in particular; I get homesick and nostalgic for all the places and times in which I've been homesick and nostalgic during seasonal transitions. Change means something is ending, and the next thing is coming, and I dislike endings. Seasons, though - they seem to be telling me that I haven't changed at all and that everything's still okay because I'm still reacting emotionally to the seasons.

And Friday, I felt Spring.

I also felt Nairobi. This naturally luscious and socially wealthy setting with huge, old trees, rich hedges, and walking on asphalt roads with no sidewalks - this was like Muthaiga, an old and wealthy neighbourhood in Nairobi, where I lived for about two years. Of course it wasn’t identical, but I sensed a similar climate.

When we got to Harriton House, I walked around, looked at the house, at the sheep, the horse, the chickens, and then spent a while watching two adolescent-sized cows. Of course, I know nothing about the maturing process of cows, so I don’t know in which stage of life they were, but they seemed like they still had room to grow. I watched them and thought.

Then I sat on the grass with my little notebook and scribbled thoughts. I lay down and scribbled some more. I wrote some flashy phrases and images, but nothing was hitting me in the throat.

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Dreams, Ditches, and Unravelling Yarn

Over this past summer, I read President Obama’s memoir, Dreams from My Father, and along with some other books I read, a few specific passages prompted me to rethink the education I had had so far, my academic and educational settings, and my ability to receive such education in the first place. I cannot remember or directly quote the exact passages, and perhaps what I remember is slightly altered due to how I interpreted it, but there are two main things I remember. Obama worked as a social worker and community developer in a neighbourhood in Chicago for some time, and he comments on the schools and school systems he observed. The first thing he observes is that schools function as prisons for children, keeping them off the streets and away from criminal or dangerous activities, rather than spaces of fostering growth and curiosity in learning. The second, as I remember, is that the institution of a school is meant to be where children can learn about their cultural history, to learn how they as members of their community fit into their society. In an impoverished and predominantly black neighbourhood, children are taught a curriculum that reveals a violent and oppressive history working against their cultural community. Coupling that education with the deteriorating condition of their immediate neighbourhood and surroundings, there doesn’t seem to be message of welcoming and encouragement coming from society to these children.

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Deny thy comfort, and refuse thy cozy pauses.

A handful of postings ago, I wrote a short one called “Everybody’s Them & Porous Perspectives” and it was about viewing our self and everyone else’s self as a center point; we are all center points. So, if everyone is their own center point, somehow our centrality or individuality cancels out with everyone else’s exact same position, so we are a bunch of me’s. A bunch of points. Points on a grid, evenly spaced out, spaced into infinity. I wonder if it matters that there is a finite amount of me’s currently on our planet. But then to consider and calculate our vastness over time, our growth, our expansion, and our already finished presences — I think if we cannot count and determine an exact number, than it is incalculable, hence, infinite. Effective infinity. There is a certain peace, a certain relief in infinity. A lessening of burden. If we know we cannot comprehend infinity, we can accept that, and then not try and deal with the whole. We can deal with our immediate range of vision, the section of the grid points we can see, and the spaces we can see.

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I’ve grown to be afraid of strong language, strong opinions, and strong, passionate declarations. I’m scared of loud voices, faces tight, sweaty, and red, jaws about to snap off throats bursting with throbbing veins. I am aware of the sensationalist writing style that began the “Apocalypse, New Jersey” article, and I am cautious of it. But I’m also wary of jumping immediately to the reaction of vehemently opposing and dismissing everything this article stated, simply because my very limited, single story of my experience in Camden didn’t reflect what I read here. I can acknowledge the danger of having limited sources of information - my two visits to Camden, the stories and statements made by those at the CFET, the article, and the informative city profile - and that I can never know the full story. But of course, there is never a whole, full story. There are infinite stories that create some sort of poly-sided, multi-dimensional shape object thing. But for now I’ll keep away from my usual everything-is-so-complex-let’s-just-give-up-before-our-brains-fall-out.

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Planting and Painting to the Tune of a Weeping Willow

As someone who loves being around children and doesn’t do that enough while in college, I had an absolutely brilliant time on Friday’s trip to Camden. We were introduced to the fifth grade students in the green house and played a name game with them. I was relieved that they weren’t shy or unenthusiastic to see us, because although I love kids, I get anxious about not knowing what to talk about. I’m not in tune with American pop culture or other things that could be easy conversation topics with them, but thankfully both my 5th grade buddies Janelle and Maria had plenty to tell me about planting seeds and their lessons in school about recycling.

First, we planted one tray with two types of tomatoes. The girls talked about their feelings regarding the taste of vegetables. Janelle said the first time she tasted salad, she really didn’t like it, but now she likes it a bit more. I told her that I used to feel the same, and now I love salad; when you grow up, your tastes change. We then planted another tray with yellow peppers. Maria chatted more than Janelle, but both were eager to keep my attention. I asked them questions about the lessons they had in school, if they had been to Philadelphia and what they thought about it. Just this week, Maria said, they’d gone to see an orchestra in Philadelphia, and they really liked it.

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Monkeys Smoking Pipes and Other Occasions of Disorderly Conduct

Curious George is a series of children’s picture books written by H. A. Rey. I will be writing about the first book of the series, titled, Curious George. The events of the book can be summarized as such: A curious monkey is kidnapped from Africa by a man with a yellow hat and is taken to a big city. Being curious and wanting to imitate the man using the telephone, George unintentionally telephones the fire station, prompting the firefighters’ swift arrival to find no fire, but only a troublesome monkey. They take him to prison, from which George manages to escape, take flight with a bunch of balloons, serendipitously land next to the man with the yellow hat, who then accordingly delivers George to his new home that is the city zoo.

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