The day started at 5:27am at Trimble Park with a May Day celebration. Tiddley Cove Morris and the Vancouver Morris Men were out in full force to dance away to ensure the sun and crops continue to rise in the year ahead. Both groups performed a number of dances and songs that originated mainly in the West and South-West of England.
The event culminated in a public participation of a Maypole Dance resulting in the creation of a gorgeous ribbon on the pole, weaved as dancers moved in opposite rotation around the Maypole. Witnessing the gorgeous sunrise behind the early morning rain clouds was an experience to be had. Hence the early morning traditional English ritual fulfilled its purpose and was therefore a resounding success.
The festivity concluded roughly two hours after its commencement. At approximately mid seven, the entire troupe of both Morris groups moved to the Zen Café for breakfast and then breaking out in song and dance at the café itself to the amusement and delight of the café staff and other patrons there alike.
The next stop was to University Hill Elementary for a teach and participate for students there that also involved the principal herself and teachers in attendance. The experience involved students watching Morris dance demonstrations, listening to and learning to sing a couple of traditional UK English folk songs connected to Morris dancing, and a couple of large group communal activities for the elementary age students to participate to the tune of traditional English numbers courtesy of Susan on the melodeon, including the Maypole dance after some instruction and direction. Teachers, teacher candidates, members of the Vancouver Morris Men and Tiddley Cove Morris all participated to guide the students to the order of the proceedings.
The demonstration was likewise a resounding success as students observably learnt a great deal in the short space of approximately 90 minutes. The Morris dancers disbanded for the day and the teacher candidates led by Susan and Tathali moved on to the UBC Nitobe Garden.
On reflection, Morris dancing is communal in its very foundation and structure. Pedagogically, it makes for sound community establishment in the school let alone in the classroom where students authentically and vigorously learn in an extremely engaging setting as a group. There is simply no space and time for individual isolationists given the total involvement and engagement of Morris dancing and therefore of absolutely everyone in attendance. Inclusive modified learning to involve and suit the learning needs of all students is integral in view of the participatory nature of the Morris activities. Those students who felt uneasy in joining in were literally hand held by their classmates into participating and following along. The fact that not everyone got the moves and directions accurately was not important. The essential piece was that all students participated. Those that understood led those that were trying to understand. Even if they didn’t understand, they followed along by example and learnt, whether it was in the group dances or in the sing-a-long. In the end, it was apparent that all students took away something from the experience, whether it was the songs, the dances, or even the horses that certainly made for long lasting childhood memories.
Morris dancing makes for sound support in the core curricula objectives of oral skills, listening comprehension, working in a group, as well as enquiry and critical thinking competencies (taking initiatives to lead others). The Morris demonstration thus addressed the following “Big Ideas" in the new BC Curriculum:
●People understand text differently depending on their worldviews and perspectives.
●Exploring stories and other texts helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and to the world.
●Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens.
●Texts are socially, culturally, and historically constructed.
●Language and text can be a source of creativity and joy.
These Big Ideas are in the new English Language Arts curriculum.
To start the day, we visited the UBC Botanical Garden. As many of us already know, the garden is a place where everyone can explore and learn the wonders of plants, biodiversity, and garden-based learning.
When we first entered the garden, we encountered the Ginkgo Biloba tree, also known as the "maidenhair tree." Jo briefly educated us about the tree, stating that it is the only living species of an ancient gymnosperm lineage, which dates back to the Jurassic Period about 270 million years ago. She further explains that the Ginkgo can often be found around temples, but is nearly extinct in the wild and is in desperate need of preservation and protection. The Ginkgo's extracts are valued in traditional medicine for reducing memory loss, slow aging, and Parkinson's Disease. We were very fascinated by how old the species of the tree was and its' medicinal purposes.
We then participated in an activity in which we were instructed to look and focus on an object (ex. tree, leaf) at a distance with our 'hard eyes'. We were then told to massage our eyes and look at the same object again with now our 'soft eyes'. It was an interesting experience for myself and my colleagues. We weren't able to discuss about the activity afterwards, but the activity was quite pleasant and different. We then walked into the tunnel and Susan thought we could bring in some aspects of theatre by humming together with our eyes closed. I thought it was a very fun experience and we had a lot of fun doing it as a group.
We then stopped at the Food Garden for a few minutes to look around then quickly to the Physic Garden. We spent most of our morning here, looking at the many different plants and reading each one. A lot of the plants are poisonous and most plants have a history dating back to the medieval times. Susan and Jo printed a medicinal herbs information sheet for us and we were able to understand more about the plants. Jo then provided us some 'tea time' by bringing us hot water, and we chose a herb of our choice to put into the cup. We then chose a herb of our choice and made a haiku poem, and presented it to the rest of the group. It was a lot of fun and the tea tasted great. We then visited the Rainforest Garden for about 15 minutes or so, and each of us talked about what we found interesting and how a plant or a tree etc., could relate to yoga.
We went back to the Orchard Garden around 12pm and started transplanting the tomatoes into the soil beds. It was a lot quicker than we expected, and thanks to everyone's help, we were able to finish it with perfection!
Today our group headed over to Windermere Secondary School, and it was so nice to see garden based education fully integrated in a school setting. I was so impressed by the courtyard garden the school had, as well as the orchard on it’s field. Brendan was a phenomenal tour guide. His return to the school will serve incredibly well for the garden. He is a passionate information who truly believes in the power of garden based learning. He showed us the original beds, the student built greenhouse, the aquaponics system, the orchard and told us what he would have done differently had he started the garden on his own. Originally the idea of starting a garden from scratch sounded incredibly daunting but he advises joe starting simply and small can go a long way. He truly proved the importance of having a teacher who is passionate about ideas at hand in order to have students buy into newer modes of education. He said he encourages students to use the garden as a playground and as a place of free experimentation. He wants them to move away from thinking of all the things they can’t do and start focusing on all the things they can do!
The second portion of our day was spent at a hidden gem in Vancouver, the ravine situated down the road from Windermere. We were all fascinated by the students efforts of preserving and cleaning the space and the heart warming story of how their efforts brought salmon back to the stream. A little passion and care can go a long way.
Our group finished off with a walk through a labyrinth, made out of stones, next to the ravine. It was a great metaphorical idea of a journey that has one point of entrance, and how perseverance gets you to the end.
got to see an actual school garden at Windermere Secondary School. It was
fascinating to see a garden at a high school level in comparison to the ones we
have seen around UBC. It was a great trip I think because Branden was very
realistic and logical about the concept of school gardens. He was candid on
what works and what does not work in school gardens through his own
experiences, which I appreciated. I appreciated that he was not just trying to
sell the idea of a garden through the pros and I honestly realized how
shockingly overwhelming it is to run a garden (especially a large scale one
What I was REALLY interested was
with was the fact that they grow asparagus at the gardens! I was thoroughly
impressed because I didn’t know it could really be done in Vancouver! I just
learned so much about running a garden, and seeing the harsh reality that there
needs to be management and interest in the garden, or else it will die off
Namaste! The visit to UBC Japanese garden i.e. Nitobe garden was very refreshing as always. I have been here many times but with a little twist today. The sound of construction around the garden was creating unwelcome noise and causing so much disturbance to the garden neighborhood was aesthetically not pleasing at all during the visit. In spite of all that odd, there was a great learning experience. As you enter the garden, you will get a feeling being in the different dimensions of life as if everything just slowed down. This is something very special as does not mean that you are being slow for your future actions rather it gives more time to reflect on your past actions. You know it seems philosophical and but to some extent its true.
Every aspect of Nitobe garden such as its design, ambiance or its components eg. Trees, moss, water, fish sculptures to name a few have the definite meaning and carry a history to tell you about their existence. We learned that this garden was founded and donated by Dr. Inazao Nitobe to UBC who was famously known for his philanthropic approach and agribusiness background. One of the most distinguished elements of this garden was its canvas like design rather a symmetrical design. The statue of the Dr. Nitobe is provided in the image below. The presence of Lanterns/pillar all around the garden seems to play an important role not only as guardians to the landscape but also involves details on the use of directions, specific mention of animals (12 in particular combination). The story of moss in the garden tells us the history of the garden and anything that is in relation with moss which depicts the measure of change over the time for various species of trees and moss around it. These are just a few glimpses of what I could capture during our short visit to the garden. There is so much to learn and appreciate how a garden can provide and be used to bring sensory and experiential learning tool in a variety of ways..
I would not hesitate to attest this personally that the Nitobe garden and its atmosphere was the perfect site for any teachable area and for a great learning experience. To me, this site was full of Science! As you all know I am being biased here due to my teachable area. I could find connections instantly for all different areas of science and physics in particular. The biological connections can draw using the symbiotic relationship of moss and tree species and presence of other flora and fauna (visible and invisible to our eyes), physics connections by looking at the hydraulic gradient to supply the water throughout the landscape, merging of noise to just the sound of running water. The chemistry connects the quality and quantity of water in this small ecosystem keeps species self-sustainable. Of course, we did not forget the mathematical connections as we still need to find the number of species thrive in such microscopic terrain. Without a doubt, whenever I say I visited this place number of times, but end up leaving the place with a unique experience each time. Thank you, Ashok