Published 12:45 am Saturday, September 15, 2007

By Staff
Think a child’s education takes place just in schools? Think again.
While schools provide children the basics when it comes to reading, writing and arithmetic, sometimes the basics are not enough. Sometimes the basics are, well, boring. And a boring environment or boring subject, often made boring by the manner in which it is presented, may lead to bored students. It’s not unusual for bored students, although they may be extremely intelligent, to perform poorly in the classroom.
Making learning a fun, challenging experience helps prevent students from becoming bored. In the Washington area, there are places that educate children, not to mention adults, in ways that are anything but boring.
Take the North Carolina Estuarium, for an example. Over the years the Estuarium has educated and thrilled children with programs on snakes, alligators and seashells. There’s a big difference between seeing a picture of a snake on the page of a science book and handling a snake in the Estuarium’s auditorium.
Then there is Goose Creek State Park, where the Environmental Education Center has presented programs on owls, red wolves, bats, hummingbirds, trees, plants and other flora and fauna. There’s a big difference between reading about a turtle and inspecting a live turtle.
Let’s not forget the Beaufort County Arts Council. The performances it brings to places such as the Washington Civic Center not only entertain children, they educate children, too. When children attend a performance by a musical group from another country, they are exposed to more than just a different style of music. By meeting and interacting with performers from different parts of the world, children learn about histories, cultures and languages from those areas.
Education is more than learning what’s taught in a classroom. Education is more than learning what’s learned by reading a book or doing homework. Education is about experiencing life and using those experiences to improve one’s life.
Because they make learning fun, that’s why places like the Estuarium, Beaufort County Arts Council or Goose Creek State Park attract many children to their programs, activities and events.
Even places that are supposed to educate children continue to find ways to make their educational programs appealing. Washington’s Brown Library, by way of its children’s programs, has been educating and entertaining children for many years. It brings in storytellers who weave education and entertainment into their stories. The library once brought a petting zoo to its grounds. Petting a billy goat makes more of an impression than reading about the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
The Pamlico area needs more places where children can be educated and have fun at the same time.
As important as schools are to children when it comes to providing the meat and potatoes of education, it’s just as important for children to have access to places that provide the “desserts” of education. As important as it is for children to study hard so they perform well in school, it’s just as important for them to learn in an atmosphere that brings smiles to their faces.
When a child can learn and have fun at the same time, that child is improving more than his or her mind. He or she is improving his or her spirit, too.
When a child learns about farm animals in school, he or she should have an opportunity to visit a farm and hold a fat piglet. Maybe that’s what is meant by a well-rounded education.