Quantum Learning Comes to La Paz

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By Carol Dyer

Earlier this year, Casa Tuscany Inn was privileged to host a group of truly dynamic women affiliated with the San Diego Natural History Museum (SDNHM).  They were here to conduct a special training program for teachers using an amazing technique called Quantum Learning.  The subject was teaching/learning strategies and classroom management, using the La Paz watershed as the topic.  Eighty-two teachers from La Paz and surrounding areas attended this 4-day workshop.  And, it wasn’t free.  Each teacher paid a fee to attend, but, from what I observed, it was money well spent.
Quantum Learning Network, www.qln.com, teaches teachers how to get their students excited about learning.  The emphasis is hands-on learning and action oriented activities, utilizing all the senses in the learning process.  Whoever heard of playing loud, up-beat music while taking an exam?  Oh no.  When we went to school the room was deathly quiet.  For some, like me, taking exams was a kind of death.  The music is just a small example of how engaging the senses promotes learning and gets kids excited about it.
Why, you may ask, would the San Diego Natural History Museum be interested in educating people in the Baja on environmental concerns?  It isn’t hard to figure out.  After all, a border does nothing more than delineate where one county, state, or country ends and another begins.  Environmentally, things are not much different on one side of the border to the other.  The Museum’s natural history region encompasses the area between Point Conception, just north of Santa Barbara in California, to Cabo San Lucas, all of the Sea of Cortez, and out to the deep ocean.  The US and Mexican border share the same bio-region, the Tijuana River Watershed.  Thus, there is a keen interest in preserving this important resource for everyone.  What happens environmentally on a local level can have serious consequences globally.  Poor watershed management in particular impacts the Baja as well as its northern neighbors.
An organization known as PROBEA (Bio-regional Environmental Education Project), founded in 1991, worked for several years with groups on both sides of the US/Mexico border to educate people on environmental issues before merging with the SDNHM in 1997.  Part of the Museum’s binational education program, is this educational arm that now assists educators in La Paz and other communities of the Baja to develop and commit to projects that benefit the environment.  Teachers that participate in the training learn not only about the watershed, which they in turn teach to their students, they also learn some important teaching techniques that can be employed for all school subjects. Since the year 2000, when PROBEA was first invited to La Paz to introduce their programs to the area, training for educators have been facilitated in “Ocean Oasis”, “Schoolyard Habitats”, “Know Your Watershed”, and “Our Natural Heritage, Baja California Sur’s Pride”. All the programs are focused on the environment, are correlated to the Mexican Education Standards and require an action component within the schools and communities to reinforce the classroom learning.
The curriculum for the January watershed workshop, and others to come, is designed to educate the students on how to take responsibility for their local environment.  Students work together to learn about the history and ecology of their watershed.  They gain an appreciation of what an aquifer is and how the scarcity of water in La Paz impacts them.  The kids work on projects to conserve water in their homes and school.
We all know about the scarcity of water in La Paz, and in spite of the heavy rains, we are reminded that we live in a desert region.  Although the city turns off the water in various neighborhoods during the day, it isn’t enough.  The city water infrastructure is in serious need of repair and many homes do not have water meters but tap into the water supply nonetheless.  There is no revenue generated from these taps and thus no revenue to effect repairs.  We must all do our part and find ways to conserve water as much as possible.
I know you join me in applauding the efforts of SDNHM and PROBEA for the work they are doing.  We thank them and welcome them to the La Paz community.  Since inception, over 4,600 educators received training on environmental themes and those educators in turn teach 150,000 students each year.  More than 21,000 Baja California peninsula residents have participated in community events and 31,000 have been involved in the action projects of the program.
For more information, visit the Museum’s website, www.sdnhm.org and follow the links to Education/Education-Mexico.
Carol Dyer is the owner of Casa Tuscany Inn and a regular contributor to the Baja Citizen.

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