Class the First

My first class was yesterday morning.

I got lost trying to find the Extension Office, so I was a few minutes late and got to do the lovely “Late Walk” that is so embarrassing to introverts like myself.

Aside from that, I had a great time!

The first class established expectations and course requirements.  We talked about what gardening is, the learning process and our internal assumptions (“mind filters”), and went through the schedule and the syllabus.  The learning theory information was excellent; it broke adult learning theory down into simple language and illustrated how we block our education using mind filters, which edit the information we gather into different forms that we can assimilate or ignore, depending on which filter we apply.  It was well-done, and I plan to adapt these ideas for my own students.  A deeper understanding of the learning process is helpful for students in any learning setting, but particularly in a career setting when they take classes they might not agree are useful in the future.

Did I mention I teach history?  Many of my students don’t get why it’s important.

But back to the gardening.

Often times the best learning is that which opens your eyes to what you already know, but hadn’t put together.  I had two instances of that yesterday.

First, did you know that geraniums can’t be grown in Florida year-round?  They are considered a cold-weather flower, and can only be grown outside from January through March.  In California, they are a year-round perennial, and of course, here in Idaho, we grow them outside during the summer time.  We all know that different climates affect how and when plants grow, but sometimes it takes an illustration like this to piece the information together.

The second was about tree roots.  I don’t recall exactly how we got off on the subject, but when it came up, the general consensus was that tree roots went deep into the earth.  Wrong.  Tree roots stay near the top of the soil; below 24 inches, there is no oxygen in the soil, and the roots are looking for oxygen.  For some unknown reason, I believed roots were quite deep, depending on the particular tree in question, and that was the answer I was prepared to give.  When the instructor told us this was wrong, I didn’t believe him until I remembered all the picture I’ve seen of uprooted trees after wind-storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.  All of their roots are no more than about two feet below the surface.  The root span was quite wide, 6-20 feet depending on the tree; but the roots themselves only went down to about the two-foot mark.

I sat and giggled the rest of class thinking about it.

I have a feeling I am going to get more than I bargained for out of this little venture.  Aside from the volunteer work (which I was expecting), there is the promise of identifying bugs for people at the plant clinic (which I was NOT expecting).  That’s creepy, and to a entomophobe such as myself, not a comforting prospect.

Our instructor also assured us we would not be discussing the Krebs Cycle; disappointing, since I understand that from Biochemistry a few years ago, and need the review.   I expect the composting and propagating classes will make up for this lack.

Next up, homework!