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For spring students, outdoor classes are a special gift | Entertainment/Life

For spring students, outdoor classes are a special gift |  Entertainment/Life

 


My son is a graduate student in Pennsylvania, where the winters are grayer than those he experienced in Louisiana. The arrival of spring was particularly welcome to him this year, so he asked one of his teachers if the class could hold its session outside the other day.

Since outdoor classes are more commonly done in elementary school, my son didn't expect his application to go anywhere. But the professor agreed, and a handful of young adults found themselves outdoors, soaking up the sun while tackling the toughest technical challenges of 21st century robotics.

The news made me think of a column I wrote a few years ago that recalled my own fond memories of outdoor classes. Every spring, feeling the itch of children dreaming of a playground, some of my first teachers found a compromise.

They escorted us outside, where we learned history or grammar in the shade of a tree, I told readers in 2019. The change of scenery seemed to me then a liberating gift. I now understand that my teachers also took care of themselves. As spring blossomed, they didn't really want to be in a classroom either.

I wrote these words a year before a pandemic sparked a revolution in how and where many of us do our jobs. As COVID-19 lockdowns have forced legions of employees to stay home, the concept of work has become more transferable. Armed with little more than laptops and smartphones, millions of workers have learned to accomplish tasks anywhere, on a kitchen counter, in a spare bedroom, or even in a shady spot. a terrace.

Even though the pandemic has eased, many Americans continue to embrace the new possibilities of remote work, which could include working from home while away from home. It's something I notice on my daily walks in my neighborhood park. Often, I see people at keyboards at picnic tables: students busying themselves with homework, executives filling out reports, an accountant mulling over numbers in the afternoon breeze.

Although I love spring as much as the next guy, I've learned that for a writer, working outside isn't always the best choice. I'm still attached to notebooks and scraps of paper as work tools, and one strong gust can send them all across the lawn.

Some of my best outdoor work took place on spring days when I was teaching students writing, a season when, like my son's teacher, I sometimes decided to offer a class outside. outside.

Notepads in hand, we wandered the campus looking for stories, sparking dozens of ideas from the people and places we saw. I wanted my students to remember that learning often happens beyond the classroom, into the warm blood of the larger world. It made me all the happier to think of my son outside this spring, thinking big thoughts as the wind teased his hair.

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