That has been the experience I have had over the last four months with my English 12 classes and the Out of Eden Walk program [An initiative of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education]. Sixty-eight high school seniors and I learned to slow down, walk and really take notice of things in a way that you can only do on foot.
Participating in the Out of Eden Learn walking party and curriculum on migration we walked, noticed, reflected, wrote and learned.
We participated with students in Indonesia, Canada, Texas, and Massachusetts. The experience was personal and different for every student, yet all agree that it gave them a profoundly different worldview.
One of my own slow walks took place along the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s Lake Superior coast. I marveled at the incredible beauty of the hundreds of smoothed stones along the beach. Before I knew it I was collecting the stones that attracted me the most. Each had it’s own beauty to marvel at, each sparkled or shined in its own special way. They reminded me of my students. Each senior that I have this year is special, beautiful, unique, in their own way. When my arms were too full to carry any more stones, I found a bag. When my bag was full, I found a larger bag. By the time I finished my walk, I could hardly carry the bag from the weight of all the stones I had collected.
I took the rocks home and painted the phrase, “Take a slow walk” on each one. I held onto the rocks until today, which happens to be my birthday. Instead of getting birthday presents, I gave each senior a present to remind them not to lose what they have gain by our Out of Eden Walk experience.