Education takes place in many forms other than the classroom, and I am proud to call myself an “educator” more than just a “teacher.” My real life example took place this weekend.
My family and I live out in the country about ten miles from the metropolitan area which I actually claim as home. We have several acres as do my neighbors. My sons, all three under six, and I were outside when my friend from across the road rides over on his ATV. “I’ve got snakes!” he exclaims. My first thought was, “GREAT! Let’s go catch them.” Off we went, my four year old and I, to play Steve Irwin.
I had the hardest time keeping him back until I addressed the situation, determining whether or not the aforementioned snakes, sunbathing on a brush pile, constituted a threat that could mean a trip to the hospital. After careful examination I found he had Blue Racers and Eastern Hog-Nosed snakes. About an hour later I had one in my grip and was still trying to keep my boy from getting too close. What makes me the proudest is that without thought I used the opportunity as a teachable moment, instructing them on safety, NEVER approach a wild snake without Daddy, biology, herpetology and animal husbandry. I told them about how snakes are cold blooded, needing to sunbathe to keep warm. I addressed their diet of mice and rats that also inhabited the brush pile. We talked about their defense mechanisms. We admired their color and markings finally letting them go in the woods where they could not be harmed inadvertently by the ATVs, pets or other humans.
To me, this episode is a more significant educational experience than any number of other days in a classroom and one that my sons will not soon forget, or even stop talking about.
Ed U. Cayshun