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Tim Dyke is pursuing his MFA in Fiction at The University of Arizona. He's also an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
As an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, I'd like to think that if a school group wants to schedule a field trip for a particular purpose, the inventive educators here will be albe to create a program that can accomodate them. When teachers from a local Tucson elementary school asked if they could visit the library to see the exhibit on Sharlot hall and Hattie Lockett, I said, "Of course." When I wasa told that the next Thursday morning would bring 25 Kindergartners and first graders to the Poetry Center, I anticipated a fun time. I also wondered what exactly a five-year-old or a six-year-old could appreciate about an exhibit that featured poets from Arizona's historical past. What could we do for their field trip that would be useful, fun and enlightening?
To plan the field trip, I began by consulting the Poetry Center website. According to the information provided, Sharlot Mabridth Hall and Hattie Greene Lockett lived and worked at the turn of the 20th Century. Members of the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame, both Hall and Lockett were "women of thought and action, pioneers in word and deed." On the morning of March 8th, I stood around a library case with an eager group of five and six year olds. We stared at leather journals and photographs of an Arizona that might no longer exist. How did I connect the lives of these pioneer women to the lives of these young visitors? Well, I'd like to think that I began by viewing these students as explorers in their own right. I'd like to think I considered them to be children of thought and action, young pioneers of word and deed.
"These two women wrote more than a hundred years ago," I said to the field trip students. We were sitting on the inviting red couches in the Poetry Center's entryway. "They wrote about the land they lived in because they loved it." I asked the students to think about the places that they themselves knew best. I asked them to picture the rooms they lived in, the yards they played in, the locations that made them feel comfortable and at peace. After talking about places for a little while, we decided to go on a "field trip within the field trip." With pencil and paper in hand, the Kindergarten and first grade students followed me on a short little silent walk. We wove our way through stacks of the Poetry Center library. In the Meditation Garden, we stopped for a minutre and experienced the place with all of our senses. As we left the garden, we circumnavigated the building, looking and listening. All the while students were thinking about how they might describe this place.