During the course, students were ask to complete a plant study. They also took a field trip to the LA Arboretum where they made detailed drawings of some of the plants they saw. Students were then asked to write a final essay of their plant study and summarize the experience in the course. The following is one of the essays from the class.
Plant Study Summary
by Shannon Sperling, 11th grade
To be held in the void and realm of the "not knowing" is truly one of the most beautiful and important parts of our human lives. Within ignorance and naivety there is an extreme quality of purity, beauty, and innocence. Experiencing this beautiful ignorance in the botany block was very important for me, and hopefully for the others in the class, because it taught me that it is okay to be in a state of "not knowing." It was almost as if I was a child again. This experience taught me to go back in time and look at the world through the eyes of an innocent child yet another time in my life. Everything was new, fresh, and exciting as our class explored and discovered everything around us. It was lovely to be able to, once again, come across the wonderful joy of experiencing Mother Nature in this way. Nature, once again, became a magnificent new world that had yet to be explored. Assigning each of us to make detailed observations, form questions, and make hypotheses on specific plants gave us a gateway into the world of botany.
I had an extremely interesting and quite unique time with my plant observations and studies. I met many obstacles and difficulties midway through my studies, but these hardships actually helped me become more interested and connected to the plant I was studying. These difficulties included having my plant harvested midway through the block, resulting in my trying to regrow my plant with the little time I had left. This special plant of mine was the flax plant, also known as Linum usitatissimum. I had actually noticed the flax plant in the garden quite a while before the botany block ever started. Once we were told to choose a plant, I immediately thought about the beautiful swaying flax in the garden. I was originally drawn to the height of the plant as well as the delicacy of its purple flowers. It had me thinking about how much i adore tall fibrous plants I have seen in fields. I admire these plants because I love watching the tall stems sway to and fro in the breeze, but there is so much more to these tall plants than I had originally imagined. My plant had an airy quality that I loved so much. Even the flowers and seed pods held an air of delicacy while the plant still showed healthy, strong, and upright qualities as well. Along with its airy quality, it attracted many insects, for it acted as a safe home (before this home was harvested and knocked down). Although I experienced the home of many insects being torn down, I was also able to experience the cycle of life. I watched three different life forms through the entire process of my plant studies. The insects dwelt within the plant, and then the children harvested their home. The flax will then be used for our own resources, but will continue through many generations onward as I am currently attempting to sprout the plant from the seeds I had gathered.
Although I had to experience many difficulties with my plant study, it taught me to be accepting of obstacles that come across my path. It taught me to learn how to adapt, just as a plant learns how to adapt to its surroundings. As both humans and plants are living beings in this world, we must learn to adapt to the hardships in our lives because that is the only way we can thrive. In this way , we truly are related as we share and adapt to the beautiful ecosystem we call home.