I try really very hard to never indoctrinate my students. Last year, I refused to tell my students who I voted for until graduation day. I try hard to do a lot of things at work, but like anything, sometimes I slip up.
The other day, I had misprinted a weekly assignment I gave the kids on Monday. On Tuesday, I made the necessary corrections, and distributed the corrected assignment to my kids. When I gave the corrected version to them, I instructed them to crumple up the old one and recycle it. I didn’t want them using the old version by accident all week.
And then I watched in horror as my students crumpled their papers and threw them toward the trash. You read that right. Now the recycling bin. The trash. And I let them have it. Because even if I hadn’t explicitly instructed them on this matter (and I did), we recycle in our classroom (read: I paper in our classroom). While I don’t think I crossed any lines, I was altogether too emotional to be an effective educator at that moment.
Because to me, recycling is such a “duh” thing to do. It’s not something where I’m willing to agree to disagree because I really feel like if people are educated enough, they will have to agree with me on this issue. And I know that I should be more generous with 10 and 11 year olds who have never been educated on said issue. I should be, but I wasn’t.
And I’m pretty certain the kids wrote it off as “Ms. Jones just being crazy”. But I was lucky enough to get another opportunity Tuesday afternoon. During science class, we were discussing cells, living and nonliving things, and decomposition. So we discussed how composting works, and I mentioned that I do compost at my house. And then one of my kids raised his hand and asked why. I wasn’t mad at my students this time around. I wasn’t frustrated at their lack of understanding. But instead, I very calmly gave them the best explanation I have:
I compost because it’s good for my garden, but also for the same reason I recycle. Because land fills stank. [There was a snicker in the room.] Yes, I said “stank“, because they more than stink. And I’d like to do my best so that there are as few of them as possible.
Then one of my kids added that his dad works at the dump, and he doesn’t know how he handles it all day because it’s just so smelly. And then we got back to science.
Now, I’m not saying I transformed lives with that explanation. But I will say that since then, several students have come up to me with certain items and asked if they could recycle them. And absolutely no students have pouted about recycling like they used to.
If fifth graders can start to understand that the environment is important, surely all of us can do our share. This summer, Joel and I are getting rid of the chemicals. In the meantime, I’m trying to make small choices that have a bigger impact, starting with my bottled flavored water.
Enter: infused water. I’m such a fan. Anything that blends into my garden this well is obviously something I want.
Infused water has always sort of scared me. It seems like a real hassle, but it’s easier than I thought. Oranges are sliced and thrown into a pitcher and/or a water bottle. The pitcher is filled with water and put in the fridge. Now it’s just a waiting game. Overnight is ideal, but a couple hours will do if you can’t wait.
The strawberry infused water was essentially the same process. I might get more creative, but for now, this works for me.