Give Them More
There is a push in modern education for more. More hours. More requirements. More technology. More studying. More subjects to cover. Just more! How about more time outside? This may seem counter to a modern, progressive education but it is a growing trend with established roots.
Time outdoors in all kinds of weather is not anything new. Charlotte Mason, a famous educator from the turn of the twentieth century, advocated long hours outside exploring, playing, and experiencing nature. Her methods presented a gentler approach to education that also build a strong foundation.
In this high paced, cutting edge world, Ms. Mason’s techniques are gaining popularity and a fresh take. Nature based education is nothing new but it is gaining momentum as we realize our children are deprived of the simple pleasures of the great outdoors there is actually a new disorder! Nature Deficit Disorder is a widespread problem with an easy cure, give kids more time outdoors.
Around the World
In Finland, where education is nearly the opposite of the rest of the world, children are given multiple recesses, play breaks outdoors in any weather–even the cold, Nordic winter. Up to four outdoor times are planned each day for unstructured play. This play does not take away from education, it is education for these children.
In an effort to return to nature, there is a new movement in Germany called Waldkingergarten or Forest School. These schools are housed in the great forests of Germany. Students are dropped off in the morning and picked up sometime in the afternoon. They spend their entire days outside, even having meals together on the forest floor.
You may wonder what do these children learn from days of wandering the forest? Well, recent studies have shown that “Forest Kindergarten children come well-prepared for school and that they are often ahead of their school mates physically, mentally and in their social behaviour.”
In the United States, a similar movement is occurring with Tinkergarten. Bringing young children outdoors to experience and create, this program is building an education foundation built on curiosity and teamwork.
What Does All this Mean for Education?
As we forge ahead into the tech-savvy twenty-first century, we must be mindful of not cutting our children off from their roots in nature. The importance of learning the latest innovation must never crowd out children’s need to be children. Children play, wiggle, and wonder – that is their nature. By creating space, time, and opportunity for young people to unplug, stretch their legs, and breath fresh air, we will not be wasting valuable time but investing in the health and well being of future generations.
As One Planet, One People, understanding, appreciating, and conserving the natural world serves everyone around the planet. Providing the latest technology will change the face of education and teach something new. However, some things never change, and children were built to learn and explore, especially outdoors. Play, laughter, and dreams are a language that unite us all.
Where are you exploring? What have you learned from these experiences?
Join us for our Global Learn Day 2017 Voyage!