Charlotte's Senior Project has taken her to teach at Harlem Academy
in Harlem, New York. She volunteered to provide a student perspective to senior project through the following post. Read all of Charlotte's Senior Project posts here
In my Environmental Social Science class we learned about the industrial food system, and how all aspects of it affect our world. An underlying theme in the class is the importance of a healthy meal.
We watched a Jamie Oliver video about the importance of food education in a school, and I decided to integrate my ‘action project’ for Adam’s class into my senior project teaching at Harlem Academy in Harlem, NY. My project goals are to teach students about fruit they eat for their lunch each day, where it comes from, and what fruit they could grow in the city park for themselves.
The teacher that Lacey and I are working with for our senior project told me that the students know a lot about food, and the importance of being healthy, but that they do not yet understand the comprehensive process that brings the fruit to their table, so I decided this would be the focus of my lesson plan for Tuesday May 8th.
We decided to pick some fruit, and then make a presentation about where it comes from, what climate they can grow in, and the characteristics such as color, texture, and taste. At the beginning of the lesson, we asked the students if they knew where fruit comes from, some of the kids raised their hands and said, grocery stores, meadows, or fields.
After they learned all about the fruits we brought with us and were quizzed about each one, we pushed all the tables together and created a fruit salad. While eating the fruit salad we talked about which fruits they liked and which ones they didn’t and were asked where each fruit originated.
The kids really enjoyed the lesson, but at the same time I found myself learning as much as they were. I have had past experiences teaching art and crafts, skiing, games, and reading and writing. However, through this experience I have learned the importance of taking a familiar action, such as eating fruit, and teaching students to be discerning about the ‘behind the scenes’ of that action. Solely by teaching them this relevant knowledge, they have become more aware of what they are consuming.
Even children have the right to know where their food comes from, and its importance as a lesson is overlooked in many schools today. Comparing students' knowledge of food origins in Harlem to those students I taught in the Andover Elementary/Middle School reveals a considerable difference between the two. Students in rural New Hampshire were far more aware of where their food was grown, reinforcing the significant need to include this type of lesson in all school curriculums.
I feel as though I am incredibly fortunate that my action project for Environmental Social Science could coincide as nicely as it did with my senior project. The goal for each of us in our action project was to create a project that demonstrated our competency as literate citizens on whatever subject we decide to pursue.
Having the opportunity to teach this lesson and complete this senior project serves as a representative culminating experience for my Proctor academic career. It is a the perfect example of what Proctor has taught me: self guided leadership, experiential and hands on learning, and giving back to the community. After Proctor I would like to pursue a degree in education and take that to the developing world and work in the schools there; this experience is giving me a glimpse of what teaching will be like!
**To read other student experiences from Senior Project, click here