Dist. 103 teacher collaborates on book inspired by nature
Laura B. Sprague School's Enrichment Specialist Christie Wylie, of Deerfield, has been enjoying the success of "Seed + Spark: Using Nature as a Model to Reimagine How We Learn and Live," a book she wrote with several colleagues, which they completed shortly before COVID-19 changed our lives.
"We wrote the book prior to the pandemic, yet the lessons of the book seem even more timely now," Wylie said. "'Seed + Spark' is an eclectic, provocative set of interviews, ideas and case studies in which our basic understanding of our place on the planet is changed.
The book, published in October 2020, was developed by a collaborative group of educators, architects and designers.
As an enrichment teacher at Sprague School in Lincolnshire, Wylie's role in developing the book was to provide guidance -- a "North Star" as she calls it -- since she was the only collaborator currently learning and living the book's message each day within a traditional classroom setting.
"My 36 years in education helped keep the group grounded in the lives of children. Our goal was to keep 'Seed + Spark' most useful to all who are already deeply engaged in this work with children," Wylie said.
The origin of the book's story began when life systems were first part of this Earth, Wylie explained. The book is filled with real-life, vivid photography that accompanies scientific understanding of planet changes.
The book centers around seven principles that directly connect to the living systems of nature, some of which include:
• Identity. The question: Who's There? The science: The Human Brain: "The clearer we are about the science of the human brain, the greater the chance we can appreciate the art of individual identity." How can we use this information to help children see their uniqueness?
• Relationships. The question: Who's connected? The science: Honeybees: There may be thousands of honeybees in one colony, but they work, democratically, as a single living entity to survive. What can we help teachers learn from this behavior?
• Emergence. The question: What's ready? The science: Murmuration: Hundreds of starlings billow, dive, spin and dance in unison. Each creature has to keep the correct distance to seven of its closest neighbors. Too close and they crash; too far away and they can't feel the shifts in direction of flocking. "The closer each bird pays attention, the safer and more cohesive the entire flock becomes." What can we help children learn from this phenomenon?
• Structures. The question: What's needed? The science: An Aspen Grove: "In the science of an Aspen Grove, we see, above ground, what appears to be an entire forest of separate trees, yet below the surface, they are all connected through a single extensive root system that comprises the largest single living organism on the planet." How can we sustainably live and work together within our communities like the Aspens?
Although the book was initially written with educators in mind, the book creators believed that the principles could be applied in any workplace or community.
"Seed + Spark" takes its readers in search of a better understanding of learning and, by extension, the future of humanity. The book sets up a framework for remaking schools, places of work, and social structures.
Wylie hopes that the book will help readers see that "together we can build a better world! And that the change we seek will come through critical connections. Unrest and equilibrium is important for change to occur. Now is the perfect time to reflect on lessons we've learned during remote learning and apply the positive changes."