“I would like to see every school take its pupils, for one afternoon a week, to run wild in the woods.”
– Feral: Rewinding the land, the sea, and human life, George Monbiot
In a ground breaking new piece of scientific literature, George Monbiot explains the value and importance of educating our children outdoors. His writing reminds us that the Voyagers’ Outdoor Program is unique and it is putting into action what so many experts in the field are recommending.
“Missing from children’s lives more than almost anything else is time in the woods. Watching my child and others, it seems to me that deep cover encourages deep play, that big trees, an understorey mazed by fallen trunks and shrubs which conceal dells and banks and holes and overhangs, draw children out of the known world and into others…One difference between indoor entertainment and outdoor play is that the outdoors has an endless capacity to surprise. Its joys are unscripted, its discoveries your own…
Although Monbiot may be writing everything an Outdoor Educator would like to hear, he reminds us of how it is encoded in our DNA, an urge to rewild and spend more time outdoors. He writes, “There are several ways in which I could try to show that we feel the loss of the wilder life we evolved to lead. I could discuss the urge to shop as an expression of the foraging instinct; football as a sublimated hunt; violent films as a remedy for unexorcized conflict; the pursuit of ever more extreme sports as a response to the absence of dangerous wild animals; the cult of the celebrity chef as an attempt to engage once more with the fruits of the land and sea.”For the first time, the program has run fully through the winter and this has added a new dimension to the program by continuing scientific outdoor studies during a winter where it may appear nature shuts down. The truth is that nature, even in the depths of winter, continues to provide wonderful learning experiences.
The true naturalist studies the environment in all seasons. The Voyagers’ Outdoor Program provides this niche for our students, to add the natural world back into their lives. The itch that we experience can be scratched with a little more time spent in the outdoors and in the case of our students, studying the natural patterns of the environment everyday. We have been studying topics that coincide with the natural rhythms of the environment. Topics such as:
- the quality of snow melt as compared to drinking water
- adaptation (http://voyagerskids.com/the-outdoor-school/surviving-the-winter)
- wildlife studies (year round deer populations, chick-a-dee survival techniques, Canadian goose migration)
- energy conservation
Dare I say we are on the verge of Spring and the opportunities for learning will soon be blooming all around us. We couldn’t be more excited.