David W. Orr is a professor and chair of the Environmental Studies Program at
Oberlin College and author of Ecological Literacy and Earth in Mind.
A curriculum that enables young people to discover their own homes as described here is not an add-on to the conventional curriculum. It is rather the core of a transformed education that enables young minds to perceive the extraordinary in what we mostly mistake for the ordinary. There has never been a time when we needed the kind of transformation described here more than at the end of a century of unprecedented violence and at the dawn of the new millennium. We need it, first, to help open young minds to the awareness of the forgotten connections between people, places, and nature.
But we need a transformed curriculum and schools as the start of a larger process of change that might eventually transform our communities and the culture beyond. If this occurs, and I believe that it will, it will begin with small everyday things: freshwater shrimp, the trees along the banks of streams, the lives of ordinary people, the stories we tell, and the excitement of children.
D.H. Lawrence once said that "Water is H 2 O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third things that makes it water and nobody knows what it is." It is magic, the kind that can only be found in nature, life, and human possibilities once we are open to them. What is captured in the images that follow is the kind of education that takes young people out of the classroom to encounter the mystery of the third thing. In that encounter they discover what Rachel Carson once called the "sense of wonder." And that is the start of a real education.»