Posted by: Stefan Anderson | May 14, 2012

Coniferous Classrooms

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Last week Jeff Rennicke’s English class took to the trees (actually just one tree) for a reading of John Muir’s famous essay “Windstorm in the Sierra”. Jeff describes the activity as follows on his teacher webpage:

John Muir loved wild places — from the ants in an ant hill to the top of the mountains. To prove this love he strove to live a life as connected to the natural world, in all its phases, as is humanly possible. In one famous case, that meant climbing into a “Douglas Spruce” in the Sierra during a windstorm to contemplate the “travels” of trees and to swing, as he puts it, “like a bobo-link on a reed.” Many studies in connecting students with nature tout the effort to get kids to have that same close, personal connection with the natural world. In this class, we hike to the base of a wonderful white pine on campus, sit in a circle and discuss the life and philosophy of John Muir and his influence on today’s environmental thinking. Then, in a small replication of his famous tree climb we scamper up into the lower branches of that friendly white pine to read, as a class, the essay Muir wrote on that event. The students read great literature and feel the gentle swaying of the tree beneath them, living AND learning the material at the same time.

This activity in the Wilderness Voices English class is just one example of the unique ways Conserve School teachers provide their semester school students with experiences that will remain with them for a lifetime.

The following video shares the experience students in CS3 (Fall 2012 semester program at Conserve School) had with this lesson.

I hope you enjoy the photos that Jeff Rennicke took of some of the students during the activity that accompany this post.

~Stefan Anderson
Head of School
Conserve School


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