News & Resources

Making the Most Each Moment - By Matt Ridenour

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Oct 14, 2015

Three weeks into my internship, I am thoroughly glad I chose to come back to Au Sable. Taking classes here was beneficial and enjoyable, but I would say that I have enjoyed my internship experience more. Not only have I had the opportunity to share everything from Michigan history to pond ecology with young and enthusiastic students, I explored some of the most beautiful places in Michigan.

Not having taught before, I was initially apprehensive about my ability to effectively connect and communicate with children. While I am still learning the best ways to maximize an energetic child’s meager attention span, I have found that they generally do not lack enthusiasm about the things we teach here at Au Sable. While this enthusiasm can lead to excessive talking or disruptive behavior, I believe it also makes it infinitely easier for children to learn. This makes my job as a teacher easier as well.

We remember those things that interest us. I still recall science factoids that interested me during my early elementary years. One of my fellow interns told me that a parent of a third-grader remembered the technique for a flint and steel fire from her visit to Au Sable as a child. This is the beauty of environmental education and outdoor education in general. It is a setting where enthusiasm is abundant and long term learning is abundant as a consequence. This does, however, mean that those who teach in an EE setting have a delicate line to tread. We must simultaneously entertain and inform. If we entertain only, we have lost a unique opportunity to teach children things they are much more likely to remember than those things learned on an average class day. These opportunities are not common for children and must be taken advantage of when they present themselves. Conversely, if we only inform and do not entertain or inspire enthusiasm and interest, then we lose the benefit of teaching in our unique setting and our lessons become no more memorable than an average day in the classroom.