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Lesson Plans

other learning

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Wed, 5 Jun 1996 09:21:47 +0800 (HKT)

Just thought I would drop a line about my recent trip to the Philippine island
of Boracay. For it was here I saw children learning without adult instruction
from their environment.The only access to the island is by a Parau boat, a
traditional Filipino boat made of bamboo, so visitors (only the strong of heart
visit) and all supplies must ride these narrow shallow boats made of bamboo
these boats only remain upright due to their design which entails bamboo
stabalizers on either side. The island seems to be nothing more than a beautiful
long sandy beach, the land and the people on it are extremely dependent upon the
water. There are hundred of children who play on the beach and it is through
their play they learn. These groups of children are not separated by age or
gender, there is a great deal of time spent moving from water to land just as
the adult porters move from water to land when carrying all supplies ashore. The
children as all children are very active running all the time over the open
sand, for as with the adults those who reach the fish first make the greatest
catch. The toys the children use in their games are the pieces of bamboo which
has either broken from the trees or washed ashore and with this bamboo they
become very skilled, just as the adults for all on the island is made of bamboo.
These groups of children use the sand as their art material making life size 3D
relief figures (all frontal view) by carving the sands, they also make buildings
(not sand castles) by taking balls of sand about hand size and building one upon
the other so forming a hollow building like structure. Learning the winds and
the water, how to sail is paramount to the islands existance, one day I
witnessed probably one of the most beautiful childrens toys. A young boy about 4
years old had found a piece of polystirene white packing material that had been
washed ashore, he had taken a stick and stuck it into this to form a mast, and
another find a piece of white plastic had been tied to this to form the sail. In
the shallows of the waters edge he was absorbed as he sailed his new toy,
actually this was more than a toy it was his learning tool for future survival
on the island. The adults make money by sailing their boats over to the closest
port loading their boats with supplies and sailing back, most males own a boat
and most boys from about 4 onward sail the boats with their relative, perhaps an
example of apprenticeship. We traveled to the island by one such boat maned by
one male adult and two boys one about 4 or 5 and the other 6 or 7, now some of
these boats have small engines (lawn mower size) our boat with sails down was
using its engine to full capacity on our way to the island we ran out of fuel.
The boys as a team had to refuel the boat, by understanding the motion of the
waves they had to pour fuel from a large can not too fast and not too slow
through a funel that had been made from a plastic bottle, the neck of the
plastic bottle had to fit inside a narrow tube and the large end collected the
fuel from the can. They had to visualize how much was needed and that the
changing shape of the liquid as it traveled through this apparatus was not a
measure of quantity, and all this while keeping the boat in motion. The children
on the island of Boracay learn for sheer survival and their learning tools are
the natural elements that surround them. Now that "civilization" has arrived on
the island the learning motivational tool has become money, I think the pleasure
of the winds and the water and the contentment of group fun will vanish. Perhaps
good or perhaps bad?
So look around you for learning does take place every where.
Thank you Sharon