(Late post! School has in fact started, I’ve met my munchkins and I am excited to begin sharing our journey outdoors)
School opens up for students next week. Back-to-school jitters are intensified due to returning to the classroom during a global pandemic. Like many educators, I’m excited to meet my students and am looking forward to some semblance of normalcy in my life. We will all be required to be masked and while attempts have been made to limit the number of students in each cohort, I have 20 students on my class list. 20 students can’t be socially-distanced in our classroom. A small window is our source of fresh air. As such, at this juncture in my teaching career I’ve decided to venture into the world of outdoor education.
In the past, I’ve tried to incorporate outdoor learning into my regular programming but due to ‘inclement Canadian weather’, I haven’t always maintained consistency. To help me along this journey I’ve decided to use Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: A Resource for Educators: Considering Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry.
Thus far, I’ve only read the preface but the questions posed (from on an Indigenous perspective) speak to all parts of my being. Questions that speak to our current state of existence:
- How do we effectively set the broadest possible parameters for our children’s learning?
- How can the process become more holistic, seamless, meaningful, and less institutionalized?
- How can we involve families and communities; connect outside of school with parents or play, in the land, as part of it; link with our food and our future; think and feel deeply about our ancestors and our great, great, great grandchildren?
- How are the solutions for survival in the 21st and 22nd centuries social and spiritual and not merely technocratic?
- Are we raising nations of people who can work together and define how technology and resources are applied for common and deeply ethical purposes?
- Are we preparing our children to become increasingly atomistic, isolated, and defined by technology, anxiety, and money?
(Natural Curiosity 2nd edition)
During a time when thousands of students’ classrooms are computer screens, creative arts programs are being slashed, when disregard for the environment and all its living things is the norm. During a time when profit matters more than human life and dignity, it seems now, (not only because it’s the safest place to be), more than ever that we need to be outside.
We need to learn outdoors. We need to breathe in fresh air and leave the confinement of walls. We need to feel our connection with the earth that sustains us in spite of ourselves and we need to begin to think about what type of world we want to live in.