So, I have a confession to make. It’s a pretty big one, and may change the way the world sees me. While I don’t hide this fact from others, I don’t often throw it into regular conversation either, and so, I totally understand if you choose to unfollow me after the big reveal. Here goes nothing…
I like listening to the John Tesh Radio show on a local radio station in my area.
Crazy and strange, I know. You’re probably asking yourself, how can you listen to a Top 40 easy listening radio station when you like Coheed and Cambria, Slipknot, and City and Colour? The truth is, I do change the channel during the music portion of the show and generally only listen to the John Tesh parts. I mean, he gives great advice on intelligence for your life. I’ve learned a lot of really cool, and sometimes, gross facts from Mr. Tesh. For example, remember those fun bath toys we used to play with as kids while we bathed in our own filth? They are full of nasty germs and stuff including viruses, bacteria, and things that can get you really, really sick. Perhaps that’s why I was often sick as a child? Think about it? Did you play with those squirty bath toys or rubber duckies as a child while bathing? Did you get sick? The two are clearly connected. Anyway, that’s just one of the numerous fun facts that I’ve learned from listening to his show over the years, I mean months. While this Earth shattering news on Earth Day of all days is quite disturbing, I hope that you can find it in your hearts to understand why I do what I do when I’m not teaching, spending time with my family, or writing this amazing blog, because, I have another wonderful fact to share with you that I learned from listening to Mr. Tesh on the radio.
John Tesh said that looking at pleasant scenes of nature or the outside world for just 40 seconds, can make people more productive and happy than those who do not have the luxury of “seeing” the outside world. That makes sense, I thought, but what if they look out a window and see the same thing? Would they be even more productive and happy? John Tesh really gets me thinking. I love it. Thank you, Mr. Tesh. While his music is really just a rip off of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and other such bands, his advice is original and thought provoking. Perhaps he should devote more time to finding fun facts to share on the radio instead of recording more unoriginal music. Just an idea. Before I digress too far off track… I started thinking about this idea of nature and how it can promote productivity and happiness within people. While the study that he shared pertained to adults at work, I wondered if the same would be true in schools. So, thanks to John’s inspiration, I did a little test in my classroom yesterday to see if John and I were right.
During my Humanities class yesterday, we read and discussed the wonderfully engaging play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose. Prior to starting the class, I opened the curtains covering two very large windows that looked out onto Mount Cardigan, the Canaan Street Lake, trees, the brilliantly blue sky, and the natural world. It was like looking at a Bob Ross painting, magnificent. So, after looking out the windows for a few moments while I shared a mildly boring story about why we still have the curtains in the classroom, we got right to work. The students read their lines with emotion, focus, and gusto. They acted out their lines as if they were performing on Broadway. The reading of the play flowed like the mighty Mascoma River, quick and dirty. Well, there are a few curse words in the play that the students get to read. Don’t worry though, we spent several class periods discussing the power of words and when it’s appropriate to use some words. I’m not teaching them to talk like crazy pirates of old. The students performed the play yesterday in class better than they had since we started reading it a few weeks ago. Even the discussions that we would have, periodically, throughout the period, were deep and fruitful. The students shared great insight and were really analyzing literature. It was amazing. This was, by far, the best period of reading and discussing the play we’ve had. The boys were on-task, engaged, and super excited during the period. What’s strange, is that having the curtains open was the only difference between yesterday’s class and previous classes. I provided the students with the same reminders about reading their lines with emotion and acting them out.
So, is my hypothesis accurate? Does looking out of a window to see beautiful scenes of nature, promote even more focus, productivity, and happiness amongst people? While I should gather a bit more data so as to be all scientific and such, I feel as though the answer is, Yes. I have posters of nature on the walls of my classroom, and they haven’t made much of a difference on a day-to-day basis. Clearly, allowing the students to look outside before beginning yesterday’s lesson made all the difference. They were relaxed, focused, productive, and happy. I had one student come to me and say, “This is the best activity I’ve ever done in school,” referring to the reading and discussing of the play. Although I love the play and know how great it is, I do often wonder how much my students enjoy reading and discussing it. However, yesterday, they seemed super into it. Was it the rays of sunshine that penetrated the double-paned glass? Did that help to promote more focus? Was it the rolling hills? Did looking at those for a few moments fill them with glee? Maybe, or maybe it was something else. But for now, I’m going to go with, I’m right.
So, there you have it. Listening to the John Tesh Radio Show inspired me to try something new in the classroom, and it paid huge dividends for my students. They got more out of Saturday’s class than they have in a while, and it was all because of John, sunshine, and my brilliant creativity.