https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5GOxyvX2Nk (Mute recommended. Increase volume at your own risk.)
We've all done it. I think. At least we've all seen someone do it. The classic flying insect overreaction. I would guess you've seen it or will see it on our campus: swatting, screaming, running, crying. I bet some students do it too!
When we talk about the environment as an integrating context, we understand that one aspect of our CHCS environment or "place" is that we live in the woods. And we would have it no other way. One of the things we get to enjoy is the plethora of flying creatures on our campus. Sometimes, though, it's hard to enjoy.
Look, the truth for many of us is that flying bugs, especially, can make us uncomfortable. They dive-bomb you, buzz by your ear, swarm around you, and land on you. I often say to such bugs, "You have acres and acres of woods to fly around and you need to buzz by MY ear???!!!". (Yes, I talk to wildlife.) Some of us have allergic reactions to insect bites and stings, too.
I think part of the discomfort is caused by the unknown and misconceptions. Do you know what flying insects will bite and sting and which will not? Part of the discomfort is caused by things we do, unawares, that actually attract flying insects. What do you think attracts flying insects?
The bottom line is that we will encounter flying insects on campus every day. The first thing I would like us to do is appreciate them and learn about them and convey that same appreciation and curiosity to our students. Think about how you will do that with your students this year. The second thing I would like us to do is deal with our, and our students', negative reactions to them.
How will do that? First, we will empower ourselves and our students with knowledge so we can identify flying insects and know if they sting or bite or not. Second, we will learn how to control our behavior when we have such encounters. We will learn what to do instead of swatting, screaming, running, and crying. Third, we will learn how to manage our fears and anxieties about such things. I have asked Honey to design some lessons that we will teach to our students in the first weeks of school that address all 3 objectives above. (For new staff members, Honey is our science integration specialist.) My hope is that education
Is someone going to get stung or bitten on campus this year? Of course. Should that stop us from being who we are and doing what we do? Of course not. Are we going to be careful? Of course. Are we going to be so careful that our students don't get to experience all of the natural world our campus and community have to offer? Of course not.
I'll finish today with another quote by Richard Louv: “One of my students told me that every time she learns the name of a plant, she feels as if she is meeting someone new. Giving a name to something is a way of knowing it.” (Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder)