Links for Learning
Connections for High School Teachers and Students
Links for Learners will support high school curriculum
Finding Links for
Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
prayer; shared reflection
War II battle site
- Social Sciencesthe
ocean; the environment
Look for connections
for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:
- Parish sacramental
preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion
programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
- Parents will
also find this material useful in initiating discussion around
the dinner table, in home study, at family activities or as
preparation for parent/teacher meetings.
Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key
words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations
can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource
materials cited throughout the Links for Learners.
The Beach Teaches
Us So Much
As our authors say,
the beach can teach us about God.Appreciating the lessons of the
beach requires reflection on our part.Whether as families or discussion
groups, we need to reflect, to listen for God's presence, to look
for his footprint in the sand.
After reading this
month's article, jot down a few thoughts on what you already know
or feel about the beach's ability to enhance your understanding
of God. If you're not a beachgoer, or don't live anywhere near an
ocean beach, substitute an element of nature you are familiar with,
such as a lake, a river, the forest, a flower garden, perhaps a
snow-covered mountain trail. Nature's ability to teach us about
God is certainly not limited to the beach.
Individually, or as
a group or family, visit the beach.Open your eyes and hearts to
what lies before you; listen for the whispers
of God's presence; smell the rich aromas of ocean and shore.As parents,
encourage your children to write down several experiences while
they are fresh in their minds and hearts. On a longer trip, some
young people and adults may enjoy keeping a journal. Let the children
experience and then talk about their sensory experiences at the
beach: walking barefoot in the wet sand; fingering shells,
pebbles and driftwood; looking for sea glass (broken pieces of glass
tumbled smooth in the surf); hearing the pulse of the surf; smelling
the ocean on a foggy evening; feeling the wind on their faces.
If you're fortunate
enough to spend an extended time at the shore, use the changes in
weather conditions to teach your children about references to the
sea in the gospels. Observe the beach on a windy or stormy day.
14: 22-33, the story of Jesus walking on water. Jesus' first
followers were fishermen who made their living on the water. Imagine
a small boat struggling on a wind-driven, angry sea. Picture the
amazement of the disciples when Jesus came toward their boat walking
across the stormy waves. And experience Peter's initial courage
in asking to do the same, only to sink when he moved from trust
to fear. Jesus' ability to calm the stormy sea is a sign of God's
power over all of nature.
The storm on the lake
8: 22-27 is another story of Jesus' power over the wind and
the sea. Take photos of the beach and its different weather conditions
to aid your memory after the trip is over. Little children might
want to put together a scrapbook or treasure box with photos, souvenirs,
When your trip is
finished, assemble as a family or group to talk about your experiences.
Review the article again. Talk about how your experiences may have
matched, or been different from, those of the author. You can use
a recording of nature sounds as background to help bring the experiences
back. Such audio and video recordings can often be found at your
local public library.
For younger children,
listening to a parent read a bedtime book set by the sea can bring
back the good memories. See The
Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, by Joanna Cole, as
Share some of your
collected mementos with your group. In school settings, your experiences
and souvenirs may become the foundation for shared classroom prayer
or even support a retreat day. Whether as an individual or a group,
the physical and visual memories of the beach can be incorporated
into your prayer life. Simply holding a shell or stone may help
you recall God's presence in meditation. Keeping a souvenir of the
beach in your car can introduce an element of peace into an otherwise
troublesome commute to work or school. A beach shell on your desk
may help get you through a difficult work day. Hanging a favorite
beach picture near the kitchen table may inspire a family prayer,
especially when everyone is tired and tense.
For students, the
beach trip might trigger an interest in learning more about the
sea. Robert Ballard, the underwater explorer who discovered the
wreck of the Titanic, has written a number of books on his
life's work, notably Finding the Titanic and The Discovery
of the Titanic. Older teens and adults may enjoy his own story,
The Eternal Darkness: A Personal History of Deep-Sea Exploration.
Learning more about
our ocean environment can be fun for young people. Perusing navigational
charts of the area in which you recreate can inform about the
presence of shipwrecks and underwater obstacles, changes in water
depth, lighthouses and landmarks,
and boating/shipping channels. Charts done by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cover United States
coastal waters and the Great Lakes. The NOAA offers additional information
on satellite imagery, oceans and weather, and tide tables.
A Different Experience
of the Beach
For some, the beach
may be the start of a whole new life. Witness the hundreds who have
fled Cuba in boats and makeshift rafts for a fresh start in America.
A Florida beach is indeed a treasured goal. Their well-documented
stories can be found by searching CNN
or the Miami Herald.
For the survivors
of D-Day, June 4, 1944, the beaches
of Normandy, France, will no doubt bring haunted memories of terror,
pain, lost friends. For the people of France, Operation Overlord
marked the beginning of their liberation
from Nazi occupation. The drama of that invasion was captured in
the film, Saving Private Ryan. In fact, Normandy was the
largest of scores of beach invasions conducted in World War II by
the Allied Forces on the European and Pacific fronts.
The awesome power
of the sea has often cast ships up on the beaches and rocky shores,
usually with tragic consequences for their crews and passengers.
Other ships have disappeared at sea without a chance of reaching
shore. See Willard Bascom's Waves and Beaches, Doubleday,
New York, 1980, for stories of lost ships, tide and wave facts,
and ocean statistics. The United States
Coast Guard, renowned for its sea rescues, teaches boating safety
at hundreds of locations to help pleasure boaters avoid similar
The Sea Around
Us, Rachel Carson, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1961
Gift From the Sea,
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Pantheon Books, New York, 1955