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Day 28: Julie Lymburner, Teacher (South Delta Secondary School)

October 16, 2012

Autumn on the west coast… It can often be a mixed bag of weather and wind as the leaves turn, the air grows crisp, and rains begin. This year, however, we have all been blessed with a stretch of fall days that have been consistently warm, sunny and inviting. Our autumn weather has presented me with opportunities to drop the technology, move outside the concrete school walls, and test some of my ruminations on teaching and learning out in the “real world”.


There is a growing body of research that strongly suggests that, while our technologically savvy students are able to stay in touch with people, places, and events around the world, they are less able to communicate with the people in the same room.

”It’s time to take a step back and reassess… it’s important to connect with people in person. (Experts) worry that kids won’t know what it’s like to share a story or actually look someone in the eyes. And that’s sad.” Jack Cafferky, CNN

As we move through our world each day, buried in ipads and Blackberries, many wonder… are we still staying in touch with the real world around us? Apart from tossing our recyclables in the appropriate bin, reusing papers and turning out the lights, are our students truly connecting with the environment?

University of Washington psychologist Peter Kahn states, “With so much of life based on electronic representations of reality, humans risk losing touch with nature. From web cams that offer views of wildlife to virtual tours of the Grand Canyon and robotic pets, modern technology is increasingly encroaching into human connections with the natural world.” Kahn and his colleagues believe this intrusion may emerge as one of the central psychological problems of our times.

And so…

This past month my Multimedia 9 class worked through an introductory study of printmaking in which they worked in both both individual and collaborative manners. Over the course of several weeks, students learned about typography and relief printing. They planned, carved, and ultimately printed a series of linoleum blocks that were reconfigured and re-printed in a number of different ways. Then on October 2nd, armed with a personal collection of linoleum plates, students travelled into the great outdoors to an artist’s studio on Galiano Island to connect with the natural world, expand their understanding of the printmaking process, and participate in a full day of collaborative art making.


What unfolded last Tuesday was nothing short of magical. Students were buzzing with excitement as we boarded the ferry to Galiano, but the windy ferry ride became a distant memory as we experienced so many rich lessons over the course of the day. Hosted by retired teachers Peter Scurr and Kit Grauer and supported by a former teacher-candidate (now Delta TOC) Allison Hardy, students shared a potluck lunch and then cycled through three art stations: printmaking at a beachside studio, trekking and sketching in the wild, and nature-inspired sculpting with clay. We experienced beautiful British Columbia at its best and collaboration at it’s finest.

Perhaps most compelling were the students’ voices as they reflected on the day… Marie, an exchange student from France offered, “The best thing was printing and learning how to use a printing press” while Damara enjoyed “exploring in Kit and Peter’s forest” and Kelsey was amazed at “realizing how close you can get to a deer without scaring it off”.

And as autumn deepens and the chill of Thanksgiving grows in the air, Samantha O. wrote, “I give thanks to the beautiful butterflies that landed on my arm” and Maya shared, “I’m thankful for the beautiful surroundings of Mother Nature as well as all the adorable animals.”

Enough said.


 Julie Lymburner is the Fine Arts Department Head and Coordinator of Inquiry at South Delta Secondary School

Galiano Island picture from Yai&JR’s Photostream (CC)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2012 7:39 pm

    Beautiful! Here’s a related Zen Pencils post that just came out:

  2. tedjohn3 permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:09 pm

    Great blog Julie. What a super activity- taking the kids out into nature, feeling nature and “doing” their art in nature. Lucky kids! Thank you for your continued energy and passion. I gotta get over to see Peter and Kit

    • Peter Scurr permalink
      October 29, 2012 1:53 pm

      HI ted, keep finding loverboy at the thrift store! sea you on the island. Peter

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