Ideas for Reports and Papers

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1. What is the status of therapeutic gardening, or horticultural therapy, in America today? How many such gardens, if any, does your state include? What is their history, their size, arid their enrollment? When and how was the first therapeutic garden started in the United States? What services does it give today?

2. How does one become a horticultural therapist? What schools give degrees in this field? What subjects do their degree programs include? How many students do these programs presently enroll? Where or how are their recent graduates employed?

3. What is the history of the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA)? What services does this organization provide?

4. Does your school have a garden? If so, how does it operate and who cares for it?

5. The gardeners in Seedfolks seemed to succeed in growing plants without the use of chemicals. This is known as "organic gardening." What challenges must the organic gardeners meet? What are the advantages and disadvantages of organically grown produce?

6. What demographic changes has your city, suburb, or community seen in the past five or ten years? What social changes has your community's demographic changes caused?

7. Are demographic changes the only causes, or the true causes, of social conflict?

8. What subjects do people in the United States need to learn in order to live constructively despite their diversity?

9. What lesson does Thomas Paine give in Common Sense about how human "society" and "government" relate? What support does one find for that idea in Seedfolks? What support for that idea have you experienced or observed?

10. Does the social life of your school or neighborhood make everyone there seem useful and welcome? If any individuals or groups there are systematically treated as outsiders, what might be done to change that? What might you yourself do to improve it? What might the excluded people do to relieve their isolation?

11. What are the chief advantages and disadvantages of city life? How might city dwellers and suburbanites or rural dwellers exchange advantages?

12. The characters in Seedfolks discuss their gardening in rich analogies. If you have not done so already, start a small gardening project in your yard, neighborhood, or school and describe its activity in metaphors and similes. Then develop these figures of speech into poems and add your poems about this to others', making an album that you might publish for each contributor arid his family and friends to read. Illustrate your album with photographs.

13. What is the usefulness of a high school diploma? How can teens who drop out of middle school or high school obtain a G.E.D.? How many diplomas of this type have local programs awarded to teens within the past five years? What percentage of the teenage recipients dropped out of regular school programs because of pregnancy or unwed parenthood? How long after dropping out did it take the average teen parent, male or female, to pass the G.E.D. test and receive that diploma? What were some of the causes for the delays? How many of the students who dropped out of school within the past three years have yet to earn a diploma? Where are they now? How are they employed? What educational help does the community offer them? How might your school assist this effort?

14. List and describe at least three civic improvements that were started in your community in the past ten years by a single individual and are useful to many people today.

15. Sam, the character in Seedfolks who most resembles author Paul Fleischman himself, made a hobby of studying...

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the etymologies—meaning histories or parentage— of words. He knew to call the garden "paradise," the Persian word for "walled park." Why is it useful to learn the origins of the key words of an activity or story about an activity? Where in its dictionary definition do we find a word's origins? Using the dictionary for a beginning, research the origins of ten words inSeedfolks besides paradise that you would like to know more about so as to understand those parts of the story better. For your report, prepare an "Etymology and Meaning Table" on the words researched. Giving your table three columns, write in the first column the older words in older languages from which each word has come. Write in the second column the sentence, or context, in which the word is used in Seedfolks. Write in the third column what you now understand that sentence to mean.

16. Does your neighborhood include a vacant lot that resembles the Gibb Street lot before the garden was started there? If so, consider making it a class project to find out who owns that property. Daydream individually or brainstorm as a group for ideas about what you would like to see happening on the lot. Illustrate your ideas. If the owner can be located, plan, draft, and polish a letter to the owner that tells about Seedfolks and shares your daydreams or brainstorming ideas about how the improvement of that lot could begin the improvement of the neighborhood.


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