The Walk to School

November 23rd, 2009 by dontai


The ritual of Walk to School is an important one, long unappreciated.

The ritual of Walk to School is an important one, long unappreciated.

Neither difficult nor excessively long, the walk to school has always been an excellent way to start learning for the day. In a way I am thankful I am able to participate and guide. We neither rush nor dally, allocating sufficient time to allow for the mind to wander at will. The environment, grass, trees, the weather and sky are our teaching aids. There is the important skill of safely crossing the street to learn, one which needs to be learned well. Handling vehicular traffic is also covered. There is the final wave. I then return, thinking of how to plan my day.

My parents never had the luxury of the walk. While seemingly simple and available to everyone, economics dictates this gift. We were rushed off to the sitters early in the morning, and there was never time to dally and to allow the mind to wander. We were on a schedule. Nevertheless, is the walk such an important task? Is there anything to learn from the daily journey, repeated ad nauseum?

I opt to slow down to the pace of the walked. After all, I know much of this content already, so the walk is not as important for me. Everyone progresses at their own pace, and it is best to not push nor retard this pace. Of course one can encourage progression, but to push hard only results in resentment and the loathing of the subject matter. That would be worse than not having the walk at all.

The first lessons concern being prepared for school. Are the bags well packed for the day? Is outerwear and footwear sufficient. Lace tying is a skill to be learned. Is gear in good nick? Timing is also studied: too early and there will be boredom, and too late and there will be detention. As experience increases timing can be shaved closer, but there must always be a buffer of sorts. This buffer is at this time too complex for the walked.

The environment and science is the first lesson of the day. There is the changing of the seasons, when the trees go through their life cycle. Why does the tree bear fruit only to drop it and stain our shoes? Bother! We cover animals and how they eat, raise their young and store food for the winter. Crafty things, how they learn to steal from bird feeders. There is grass and dew. The moon in the morning? Really? What is fog? Cold and warm air mash it up to create noise, which reminds us about rain gear. It’s all so complex, but with time and repetition the learning does happen.

The geriatrics make their rounds and wave. Will we get old some day, and walk around in circles all day? Though they are nice they are a little odd. We should still be nice to them. We don’t stop to talk in the morning but an afternoon chat is Ok. I don’t know why.

Crossing the street is an important skill. One bad cross and the walker can end up in the hospital or worse. Car drivers are careless. Even school bus drivers are not safe. Be wary, watch for a safe opportunity and then be decisive. Hold back, think, then go for it. It’s complex, no doubt, and needs to be learned. Other walkers refuse to learn the skill, opting to rely on the trainer for guidance, but this perpetuates dependence and therefore retards learning. Daily practice of frogger reduces but does not eliminate the risk. After a sufficient training period, you let go and pass responsibility over. It sure is difficult but it will happen sooner or later.

Drivers are not to be trusted if at all possible. Just because people have a role does not mean they will behave safely. No, people are human and will often do what is best for themselves, without thinking of their effects on others. This is a key lesson for the walked. Shouldn’t the trainer heed the sign and teach their walked to look both ways? Yes, but different people learn in different ways. Sometimes the walked get hurt. Sometimes the trainers are not very responsible.

Is it Ok for the trainer to yell at their walkers to hurry up, while the trainers stop to pick other people’s flowers? That does not seem right. Making sense of the world is not easy.

To trust the trainer and to trust yourself is also a skill to learn. Who to trust? It’s all so complex.

The journey does matter after all.

One Response to “The Walk to School”

  1. David Ing Says:

    Coming with an interest in a theory of practice, walking to school is an interesting phenomenon that I’ll have remember. It’s an experience that many children go through, starting at an age when reason has not yet overtaken emotion.

    Describing the journey evokes memories of childhood. If the routine of walking to school isn’t something that has been personally experienced, it’s hard to relay to someone who always got a ride.

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