One sultry afternoon while the boys were playing with their flabby basketball (they had no air pump) they started giggling and looking at something on the ground. Two bees were mating and the boys were making lewd remarks about the event.
I went to investigate and told them how rare that was and told them about the life cycle of bees. They were fascinated. “What about dragonflies?” Edmund asked. We made a short trip to the swampy stream that crossed the enclosure and sure enough, there was a dragonfly and I told them about their life cycle (I used to teach horticulture.)
“Hey! How about you take us on a science walk every day? I just learned more science than a whole year in class,” Edmund said. I got permission to do so and we walked around the razor wire fence and found lots of insects, a snake and some bullfrogs. They became amateur entomologists and called me excitedly when they found a pale green luna moth on the pale green cement block wall of the school building.
They even talked me into giving them my precious insect identification book and made drawings and extra credit reports for science. It always amazed me that urban boys got so excited about nature; I suspect it’s just a spark in all human beings that doesn’t take much to ignite.
For some reason that was never explained to me, the nature walks were cancelled and we had to resume the Regular Schedule. Security issues or some such.
I always hoped that someone would notice that my guys behaved better than all the others. I always hoped someone would ask me why, so I could tell them my theory about treating people with respect, treating them like human beings.
But no one ever did. Because as a for-profit jail, the goal was not to have them learn to behave, but to misbehave and get longer sentences! But that’s the next story.