Math Class Drops the Mic

A blog about teaching, with an emphasis on math.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Making Mastodons Real

For many years, in addition to teaching I ran an outdoor education program at a school in urban southern California. Most of my students lived far-removed from the natural world and outdoor education was literally a breath of fresh air for them. Usually we took students to Joshua Tree National Park, a land of giant granite boulders sculpted by the wind and glowing gold in the setting sun. One evening we drove into the park with a new group of middle schoolers, their faces pressed to the window in awe of the hulking stones looming like mastodons. One kid, who had studied the basics of geology in his science class, nevertheless innocently exclaimed, “Woah, who put these here?”, thinking that the fabricators of Disneyland had been hard at work in Joshua Tree. This climbing trip made those stones real for the students, bridging the gap between the abstraction of nature and the reality of rocks.

Climbing in Joshua Tree