I’m on a boat. Well, not yet, but soon.
For the next 10 days, I will be on a cruise in the Galapagos Islands, where I will be tracing the thought process that led Charles Darwin to his theory of evolution. The islands have risen slowly, over time, out of the volcanic hot spot that lies miles beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Although 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the islands are drifting closer to land, as the oceanic plate beneath it slowly shifts in a southeasterly direction. What bring about the uncanny diversity of life that makes the archipelago so special are the four major ocean currents that—like the United States’ Four Corners—converge 90 degrees west of the Prime Meridian and 1 degree south of the equator.
As you can see, I’ve done some prep work. In fact, I’ve already parsed my way through the first two chapters of my recently-purchased copy of The Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin’s account of his almost 5-year-long expedition. I still have 15 chapters—and approximately 3 years of the voyage—before Darwin sets foot on the isles of Galapagos, but I already feel prepared to do my best to mimic, and apply, Darwin’s keen sense of observation when I disembark upon the lava rocks and the dusty beaches of these islands.
I also look forward to being forced into a state of disconnectedness from the “outside” world; there will be no internet on board and the only available telephone is a pay-by-minute satellite phone on the ship’s deck. In other words, beyond the opportunity to explore Mother Nature’s most precious archipelago (well, Hawaii is a solid competitor), I’ll have the chance to test my dependence on the manmade social interaction devices that so define our lives these days.
Summer, then, is gladly here. For teachers, it is mostly a time of “re’s”: rejuvenation, reinvigoration, reflection, redesign and—this one kind of breaks the pronunciation pattern—rest. That is all fine and good. But a teacher must always leave time for exploration. Teachers, you see, are like the students whom they teach: they are inquisitive.
I may be an English teacher, but my curiosity runs far and wide, over and across many disciplines, under any unturned stone on the path from Here to Imagination. Seriously though—there is nothing finer for a teacher’s professional development than an opportunity to read the field notes of the man who almost killed God while investigating the very lava fields where he collected such observations!
Indeed, I’d like to argue that I’m participating in the ultimate professional development session out there.