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Posted by CJ on November 24, 2000 at 08:24:26:
This week I presented a workshop to teachers of children ages preschool through 3rd grade. Although I also covered furry, feathered and swimming classroom animals, there was a great deal presented on reptiles.
Whenever I take my snakes and lizards into this arena, I expect some anxiety from the participants. Two women walked in, looked at the tanks, and bolted, only to return and take up residence in the back of the room. Others were not exactly overjoyed, but were fascinated all the same. From the desciption on the registration form, it was very clear that there would be reptiles present, so no surprises.
However, one woman who's husband wants a snake to her constant "NO!" ended up staying after to hold and coo over one of my corn snakes, and several others asked many detailed questions about the husbandry of leopard geckos. I could definately see the wheels turning in their heads!
Although most of the 50 persons present will probably buy a hamster or fish for their children, for a handful a whole new world of possibilities opened up. I also brought my 5 ft. boa along as an example of a reptile who is not a good choice for a classroom animal for young children, and talked about size and lifespan as criterion for choice. By giving them some recommendations, articles and a page of web links, they at least have a basis for their reptile exploration.
Having worked in a children's science museum as well as a classroom teacher during my career, I am a firm believer that awareness and respect for creatures and the natural world must begin before the age of five. This was a major point in the presentation. If 10 out of 50 attending change their teaching perspective even a small bit, then workshops of this type are successful. By giving adults an understanding that they themselves did not receive as children, the natural world will be a better place if they take this understanding to the children they teach.