Outreach teacher Thabo Sabeko spends most of his time on the road, visiting schools around Cape Town with the Oceans in Motion mobile aquarium. With the support of DHL, Thabo is able to take this mobile classroom to schools in need, free of charge!
But, as fascinating as Thabo's lessons about ocean life are, some of the most valuable lessons are the ones he learns from the kids! Here are teacher Thabo's top 5 lessons from the learners themselves:
1. Stories from the beach
Every child that has ever visited the beach has seen something they found interesting, and they are eager to share these experiences when given the opportunity! Often, the experience of personally finding a strange blob of jelly or a weird bone is a child's strongest link to the ocean - Thabo uses these stories as a way to get children even more fascinated by what is going on beneath the surface.
2. Are the myths and legends real?
"Are mermaids real? Does the Megalodon really exist?" Children's fascination with the ocean is often fuelled by Hollywood fiction and folklore picked up from their families. While there is often very little fact in these legends, the fascination that they instil is a fantastic way of directing children to look deeper into ocean facts. "Megalodon might be long extinct, but did you know that it's because they were outcompeted by smaller predators, like great white sharks and orcas - why do you think that may be?"
3. Many teachers where so grateful to have us back
Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns have taken a terrific social toll on Cape Town, particularly on the children and teachers whose school years have been seriously impacted. Many teachers are grateful to see the return of curriculum-aligned outreach lessons, like Oceans in Motion, both for the added value it gives to the learners, and as a chance to take some of the load of the already busy lesson planning.
4. Children learn to overcome their apprehensions
People tend to fear the unknown, and a sad reality is that, for most Capetonians, the ocean and its inhabitants represent that unknown. Thabo's experience is that most children are apprehensive about touching or being near to sea animals, like starfish and anemones, but with a bit of empathy and opportunity, they quickly learn to turn that fear into respect!
5. Kids what to help animals (even squishy ocean ones)
For teacher Thabo, the most obvious lesson is the smiles on children's faces when they learn that they have the opportunity to help protect ocean animals and ecosystems. Even in children in communities and lifestyles seemingly disconnected from the sea, empathy for underwater life, and an urge to cherish it exists. Thabo notes that the challenge isn't to get children to be ocean protectors - it's to keep that sense of compassion and responsibility alive into adulthood (but we think we're helping in that regard)!