|Flickr Creative Commons photo by JosMetadi|
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
We are learning about the Solar System in science, and while the facts about the planets are intriguing, it's the students' questions and wonderings that are the most compelling. (How I wish we could have had a sleepover at school this week so that we all could have watched the lunar eclipse together!) They are grappling (and rightly so) with the sheer vastness of our galaxy...and the universe, and with the ways scientists can know distances between or temperatures on the sun and the planets. We watched this video of a hexagonal hurricane on Saturn and they were fascinated by the way the scientists replicated the storm in the lab. The idea that scientists build models to explain and understand the world is new to them.
I need to write about our Genius Hour at some point. What I'm aiming for, but not achieving (YET) is for the work they do each Friday afternoon to come from their own curiosity and desire to explore. I'm beginning to understand, at the ground level, the data that shows that school dampens a child's natural curiosity. What I'm hoping to see, over the course of this year, is that it can be reignited, with time and scaffolding.
I'm hoping for students who would rather slip out of my classroom and look up "in perfect silence at the stars."
In a change of venues, Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at The Miss Rumphius Effect.