It was a Wednesday morning when my daughter, in grade 1, said to me, "daddy, we wrote a letter to Mr. Busk about trees". Not sure what it was about I smiled supportively but then we rushed to get on the bus. By the time I got to school that same day I had received an email from Mr. Busk. The subject line read "trees". So I meandered my way down the Melawati hallway to find him and get the scoop. What he told me was quite impressive!
A few trees have been either removed or have fallen at the Melawati playground over the past few months. This, as it turns out, was noticed by our little grade 1 students who, in turn, went to their teacher to discuss their problem... too much sun and too hot a play space. What ensued was practically a play-by-play of service learning. The students went to the playground and measured the temperature to determine how hot it really was. They surveyed their entire class and found that over 95% of the class supported the idea of planting new trees. They created a map of the playground with notations of where they felt it was best to plant them. Then they wrote letters.
At first they wrote three letters, one each. Then, recognizing the power of numbers, they decided to "pitch" the idea of advocacy onto their classmates. That resulted in about 12 more letters being written, which prompted one to think that perhaps it would be so much better to have the whole grade write letters. So, the three students stood up and presented to their entire grade of peers, sharing their thoughts and data and inviting over to write letters as well. By the time Mr. Busk was involved over 80 letters were handed over to him along with the data and results of the surveys.
Mr. Busk invited Mr. Myers to walk around the playground about how wonderful it might be to add some trees to the playground, in part to make up for tree lost, but also perhaps to address the 'plastification' of our play areas on the lower ES play areas. Mr. Myers then contacted the campus supervisor and a local nursery to identify trees that are big enough to provide shade, don't create root problems, and are endemic. The students will later be involved in determining which tree species they would like planted as well as help out with the planting themselves. We hope that by Earth Week (April 18-26) we will be able to place a few trees in that area for the benefit of our children and the environment. For practical reasons it'll probably be a few less than the original 80 trees requested. :-)
How wonderful to know that determined citizens, no matter how young, can make positive change in their community. From a learning standpoint one need not take too long to recognize the knowledge and skill related connections offered through this spontaneous service learning experience (thank you to grade 1 teachers for supporting the enthusiasm!). From a 'bigger picture' perspective it is simply awesome! Are these not the citizens we like to see in our community and in the world?