A group discussion is important for setting the foundation of the lesson and establishing trust within the group. Arrange your students into a circle where everyone can see one another. Actively set up and encourage a culture that nurtures respectful discussion. Here are some tips.
The greatest act of resistance to slavery was to run away. Explain to your students that they are at the Frick Environmental Center today to discuss and explore the connections that enslaved people in America had to the environment, and how the knowledge of the outdoors helped them to attain personal sovereignty.
- What does the word slavery mean?
- What does the word freedom mean to you?
- How did freedom seekers survive their journey?
- What knowledge and skills must they have had?
- Why would a Parks Conservancy have a" From Slavery to Freedom Garden"?
- What are the ways that you can gain self-liberation? Do you need liberation from something?
In order to survive their journey, freedom seekers needed knowledge and understanding of the land. This knowledge and skill often goes unacknowledged.
PLANT ID HIKE
Each student receives a plant ID guide. Before starting, it is important to note and explain to students that while they will be looking for and identifying several wild edible plant, it is important not to eat what they find unless with a wild edibles expert.
You'll begin with two plants that can be found right on the lawn of the Environmental Center.
A dandelion is a plant that most students have prior knowledge of. Have students walk the front lawn and try and find a dandelion. Once one is found, have a student look up what dandelions can be used for, and share with the group. Dandelions have many edible and medicinal uses.
Next, challenge students to fan out over the lawn to find a plantain plant. Once found, have the students look up what a plantain plant can be used for. This is a medicinal plant. Plantain can be chewed up into a paste and used to soothe stings and bites.
Students will next follow the instructor on a hike onto a trail to find other plants in their Plant ID Guide. The instructor should scout out the area ahead of time to plan the route and see what is there.
Encourage students to try and find the plants on their own. Allow students to work in pairs or individually. At the instructor's discretion, students may use their phones and internet as resources for plant ID and info. We suggest the app iNaturalist to help identify plants. Students can "collect" plants by taking a photo of them.
This hike is also a time for guided conversation prompts with a walking partner.
Arrange the group back in a circle. The Frick Environmental Center has a stump circle located at the top of Clayton hill that serves as a good space for reflecting.
A creative outlet is helpful for channeling and processing tough emotions during reflection in a group. We suggest, a coloring or drawing activity while discussing. When Frick Environmental Center staff facilitate this lesson, they allow students to decorate their own pair of gardening gloves with permanent markers while reflecting. They can then take the gloves home.
Ask students to reflect on the experience they just had by asking the following reflection questions:
- Did anything surprise you about what we did or what you learned today?
- How do you feel about the knowledge that enslaved people had to have in order to survive?
- Do you think that you could survive on the run for months at a time in the wild?
- What is one way that you can share what you learned today?
- How do you feel about knowing that many of the survival stories that people had were never told or recorded?
- Why are we unaware of these stories today?
- Why is it important to talk about this untold side of enslaved people's experiences?