After putting up the bird feeders that the students built last year in wood shop class, we’ve all had lots of opportunities at RiverHawk to enjoy the variety of birds who visit our feeders. We’ve seen different species of birds show up as the weather moved into winter, and noticed that others have moved on to warmer places. It’s playing nicely into our environmental science class this year, as each student researched a non-migrating bird that we see each week, and then used the Book Creator app to make an ebook, which was then shared with the other students on our TV screen.
And, sure enough, just watching the birds visiting the feeders has provided several life lessons that we can apply to ourselves, as happens often at STLC….lessons we’ve discussed with the students over a variety of contexts.
The first “teachable moment” came when the first few birds discovered the new feeders. As they lit on the perches with all that seed in front of them being held in reserve behind glass, they initially pecked at what they saw right in front of them, which, obviously, didn’t work out too well for them. But they quickly learned that right at their feet was more seed than they could possibly eat. Since those first few days, we have never seen another bird peck at the glass. How quickly and efficiently they learned what serves them, what benefits and nourishes them, and what doesn’t. The theme of choosing to do what serves you and others around you, and not choosing behaviors that don’t benefit you, is one we revisit often at Scholars. It’s a constant learning opportunity for us all.
Then, after an extended weekend off from being at RiverHawk, we returned to find our feeders had been completely drained. And not a single bird was showing up. We quickly realized that if we don’t meet our commitments to this symbiotic “agreement” with the birds, we can’t expect them to come and just hang out. If the trust that seed is going to be available is broken, then the relationship suffers. The birds don’t get to eat, and we don’t get to watch them in their natural environment. We learned a valuable lesson that week. After we refilled the feeders, it took more than a week for us to get our regular bird population back. The obvious lesson: trust is quickly broken, and very slowly repaired.
The most current in the string of “lessons from the birds” came as the weather started to change. November and December brought several cold, very windy, rainy days. Those days then turned to snow days, and yet the birds were there every day. It was easy to see how difficult it was for them to even fly and be able to land on the feeding perches in wind and snow, but they did it anyway, with nearly the same frequency as they had on those sunny September days. What a great lesson for us all! No matter what our obstacles, no matter how monumental our challenges may be, we simply MUST deal with them in a way that will allow us to achieve our overall goals.
As we continue watching and enjoying the birds (and squirrels and chipmunks) right outside our window, just like as with most other activities in our lives, if we really pay attention in that present moment, there are always valuable life lessons to be gleaned, learned and applied.
Written by Jay Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community, Inc.