Our surroundings in Kibuye lend themselves to wonderment at God’s creation and an inclination toward engaging one’s natural curiosity. Fortunately for the large number of kids on our team, learning is not isolated to the classroom at Kibuye Hope Academy. Only a week and a half ago, the school year began, but already the students are extending their learning beyond the schoolhouse. Friday was our first Learning Experience day at KHA, one of the new elements added to the school curriculum this year.
This summer, a family of owls moved onto the compound. One young owlet was soon visible in the groove of a nearby tree with the parents in constant watch over the nest. This family of owls was the focus of the Learning Experience. The day began with a reading of Owl Moon to learn about owling, or how to find owls in the wild. On the nature walk that followed, the students found evidence of the owls: feathers, owl pellets, the empty nest. It was not until everyone was walking back to the school that we sighted the owls high up in a tree. Everyone had a chance to watch the owl as he watched us and flew from tree to tree. Ella (7th grade) remarked, “everyone was super excited to see the owl.”
After the nature walk, each class dissected owl pellets that were carefully collected over the summer for this purpose. The children were able to identify bones from shrews, rodents, and at least one small bird from the different owl pellets. “I liked dissecting the pellets and finding all the bones,” commented Matéa and Anna (8th and 7th grade). Later in the day the students transitioned from empirical investigation of owls to exploring owls in art and literature. “Studying the owls and learning about owls in literature,” was the best part of the day according to Micah (6th grade).
In the afternoon, the students had more hands-on activity as they learned about composting and garden maintenance. Discovering how "trash" can be used to cultivate the land and provide delicious vegetables or beautiful flowers gives feet to the command to "subdue the earth" as we become a part of God's overall plan to restore what is broken. It is a privilege to be a part of this kind of learning here with our team and our children.
Not only do all of these situations serve to engage the kids and make for an enjoyable day, it makes education a worshipful experience and opens eyes to the greatness of our God. As we watch owls soar and wonder at the soft down feathers of the over-stuffed looking baby owl, we see God's handy work and the beauty of our Creator. It connects us to this amazing place to which He has called our team and our kids.