Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mrs. Peoples' Pond

This reminiscence inspired by Doyle.

My second grade year was spent in Mrs. Peoples' third grade class at William Smith Elementary School in Huntingdon, PA.

I had a big crush on Mrs. Peoples. She was young and pretty and did things like make a life-size drawing of the Fonz for the classroom door. I was amazed when she showed us that she did it by blowing up the image on some novelty handkerchief she'd found using one of those massive old opaque projectors.

That's all science, I guess, but in terms of the actual science curriculum, what was most memorable was the pond we created in Mrs. Peoples' classroom. Her husband came in and built a wooden frame with a liner, and then the class went out to a real pond and got real dirt and plants and fish, put it in his pickup, and re-constructed a pond in the classroom.

It was a major undertaking, and a little smelly, but certainly memorable. From a curricular point of view, I also remember very clearly that we went from talking about the "food chain" that year to the more complex model of the "food web," so this was more than just messy fun.

One thing this memory underscores for me is how fundamentally unknowable the true substance and history of teaching and learning this decentralized American system of education is. I know what I experienced, but how many other second or third graders had the same in 1976? 1%? 10%? 40%? Do people still build classroom ponds in 2011? Is it even legal?

Or is that just what you get when your teacher is the daughter of the inventor of the Slinky?

4 comments:

doyle said...

Thanks for the mention.

I know at least one classroom with lots of pond water in it--we got all kinds of critters living in here live in various containers, but none so grand as the one you describe.

But now I have to have a pond!

How much light did it get? (This is going to be great!)

tspraul said...

Fine. I'll build a pond, too.

Sprout said...

Hey, Tom,

Thanks for that memory. Mrs. Peoples was my babysitter when she was a student at Juniata. My dad taught her. I remember new slinky's every time she came over. I don't know if you remember my parent's house but we had a great staircase for slinky's. Fun to read your blog and have a picture into your world today.

jason said...

I didn't know Mrs. Peoples, but I went to Juniata. Always interesting to be reminded that you grew up there.