One of the highlights of every fall is field season with my Field Biology class.
I had the luxury of growing up in an area surrounded by open fields and meadows, minimal adult supervision and expectation, three TV channels, and a world where stranger danger wasn’t a daily societal concern.
My students, on the other hand, are growing up in a busier, noisier world. From the time they take their first steps, they are pushed, prodded and encouraged through music, dance and swim lessons, sport team involvement, structured language and culture enrichment, standardized test preparation again and again and again, math tutoring, SSAT, ACT prep, SAT prep, required “volunteer” work, and the continual expectation that the kids have the strongest resumes possible prior to the end of their junior year.
Almost every Sunday throughout September and October we put the brakes on our noisy, frenetic world for five hours of community centered around exploring arthropod diversity in a number of different habitats throughout east central IL.
I really enjoy seeing the students’ excitement when they find a new species or have opportunity to witness mating, predation and the myriad of other behaviors we discuss during the week in class. My students’ unbridled enthusiasm makes me look more closely and better appreciate the activities and roles of various common species.
I’m certainly fortunate to teach in a school that allows me to step out of the traditional Monday through Friday scheduling rut, and to have a wife that is supportive and willing to shoulder more than her fair share of responsibilities during the weekends.