By Lily Rosenberg,
West Bloomfield High School
Every day I do the same thing, ESPECIALLY in school. I go to a class, I do my classwork and then the teacher gives me homework that may or may not match my skill level because school is not personalized to me. I go home to spend hours and hours on it and possibly still won’t understand it. Over and over and over and over again for seven classes. It’s monotonous. It’s dull. And frankly, it’s flat out boring. Finally somebody is doing something DIFFERENT! Finally somebody realizes that we are not made to sit in a four white walled classroom with no windows, hard chairs, and glaring lights while staring at our computer screens all day. The literary garden gives students a chance to think differently about coming to school and the way a classroom is run. It breaks the routine of sitting in a desk so that we can go outside and experience nature. It challenges the norm so we can learn in a way that is not based on points and grades.
Many adults have recognized that the monotonous routine of school is limiting students’ creativity and imagination. Parents do not want their children to go into the fine arts professions such as a singing or photography because it’s unpredictable and might not bring in a steady income. This shows how schools no longer value the creativity and imagination that should naturally accompany certain subjects, including American literature. The literary garden is an example of how we can use creativity and nature to expand our freedom and decrease our stress in school. It provides students with relief from the stress that comes with constant work because when did school become solely about grades and homework? Students don’t prioritize learning and education but instead put grades and points first. The garden defies these standards because you cannot get points or a grade for feeling the connection between nature and literature. All you can gain is the experience. Shouldn’t that be enough? The garden opens up the doors of creativity for those students who feel confined and stuck in the rut of school life.
I have migraines in almost all of my classes every day of the week. Sometimes my eyes glaze over and I cannot see the board because I have been staring at it for too long. I noticed immediately the first time Mrs. McQuillan took us outside that when I am able to breathe the fresh air and see the natural sunlight that my migraine will quickly ease away. When I am outside, I find a new path for my mind to travel because I’m not confined to the strict learning guide that most teachers have set. I learn in my own way. I am not stuck in a rut. When given the opportunity, I can make connections from the real world and plants that I see every day to the literature we read in class. Now, every time I see daylilies, I think of Emily Dickinson. Every time I see daisies, I can make a connection to The Great Gatsby. When I see the sedge in the garden, I picture the rough environment of the house in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Without the garden, I would never be able to make those connections. There is no stress in the literary garden. I’m never wrong in the garden and nobody judges me because there is no limit to the creativity and ideas that can be produced when connecting nature’s big ideas to that of famous and extraordinary writers.