Monday, September 18, 2000

Course work: Read, write, enjoy nature

Mason High class aims to join interests, encourage values

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        “Words from the Wild” is not the type of elective course your mother took in high school.

        The Mason High School class combines writing, reading literature, ecology, humanitarianism and nature appreciation.

        On Sunday, about 40 teens from the class took a canoe trip along the Little Miami River to pick up trash, do some fishing, learn about nature and write in their nature journals. They also collected old tires to be recycled.

        Tim King, a Mason English teacher and “Words from the Wild” instructor, said he hopes the course exposes kids to nature, involves them in community service and introduces them to literature and philosophical writings about the outdoors.

        “I think learning can be fun,” Mr. King said.

        The students were all set to have fun Sunday afternoon as they packed their canoes with fishing gear, coolers, trash bags and backpacks containing journals.

        The final task of the day was to write about their experiences. During the school week, they sometimes write in the journals their thoughts on famous nature quotes that they discuss in class.

        Though students have to read a nature novel and other literature and do some writing, they don't get an English credit. As a bonus, there are no tests or quizzes.

        The class is an elective, or one that isn't required to graduate. Mason High School students have to achieve a certain number of elective courses for graduation, but they choose which classes to take.

        Senior Daniel Rovekamp, 17, didn't need the elective credit, but took the class anyway — despite the requirement to read a novel.

        “It's a really different class,” Daniel said. “It's a breach from the normal school day. I think it's going to be a great time.

        “And I haven't done anything like this in a long time that benefits the community.”

        Sophomore Amy Lynch thought the course would be a good break from her heavy schedule that includes classes such as Environmental Applications of Biology. However, she planned to collect some leaves for a project in the biology class.

        “It's just a fun thing to do,” she said. “I like nature and I like to write.”

        And that's the balance Mr. King hoped to achieve.

        “Maybe they'll learn without really knowing it,” he said.

        “And I hope they'll feel like contributing. Instead of being depressed about the future of the world, they'll have hope.”

        By taking the course and reading and writing about the outdoors, Mr. King said he also hopes the students become in tune with nature and feel responsible for the environment.

        Or as Shakespeare wrote: “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”


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