Learn by Doing in our Chesapeake Communities

By Meg Walburn Viviano

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 

-Benjamin Franklin or Chinese philosophers? The internet isn’t sure who actually said it. 

It’s an oft-misquoted approach to education that rings true no matter its origin. When people feel involved, they’re bound to engage in what they’re learning.  

At my house, employing this tactic is simple. To teach our pre-kindergartener to spell words, we put a big pile of foam letters on the floor, encouraging him to choose a word and find the correct letters in the pile to spell it. Sure, we wind up spelling a lot of truck words and dinosaur names, but our son feels involved. 

It requires a little more creativity to draw in teens and adults through learning, and the payoff is even greater. This issue of Bay Weekly tells the stories of several organizations who are engaging community members to learn in surprising ways. We collected these organizations’ efforts together in one issue quite by accident, but there is a strong common thread. Each one is making Chesapeake country a better place through learning. 

For teens from at-risk communities, the vibrant Annapolis arts center of Maryland Hall offers programs in every kind of artistic expression imaginable, from painting to choreographed TikTok dances. 

Disadvantaged young people will also get a chance this fall to learn maritime history by embarking on sailing adventures aboard historically significant boats, thanks to the Annapolis Waterfront and Sailing Center. Getting a lesson on the War of 1812’s clipper ships while you’re helping to sail one of them is just a little more effective than reading the lesson in a textbook.  

Grownups and kids alike can learn—and discuss—themes of a culturally-rich book that’s been chosen for this year’s One Book One Maryland program. The 2020 selection (https://bayweekly.com/one-maryland-one-book-program-explores-friendship/) is made widely available throughout the state’s schools and libraries (even as an e-book!). It’s like one giant book club, minus the wine and gossip, inviting tens of thousands of readers to get involved.  

The whole family can benefit from a seemingly simple effort to educate visitors at some local parks. Next time you look out at the expansive waterfront vistas and see a lighthouse on the horizon, you might find a sign in front of you, explaining what it is and the key role it played for mariners. The U.S. Lighthouse Society and Anne Arundel County Parks and Rec are working to make sure folks can learn about those offshore landmarks right as they take in the sight. 

Each of these programs are designed to engage us and to teach us. Each of them creates a special experience unique to Maryland and our communities. And each one makes me feel hopeful about the positive work being done here. Bay Weekly is happy to share these programs with you.