Saturday 7th July 2012 saw the launch of a new national body for those working in UK Forest School settings – the ‘Forest School Association.’ The launch event was seen as a milestone in the growth of Forest School in the UK with almost 200 participants braving the elements to undertake workshops and networking sessions, which all took place outside. The event saw the first Directors elected, a group of whom will function as Officers to the body and aim to represent the variety of those involved with Forest School. The association will be a voice for Forest School, support practice, ensure quality training and push forward on research.
(Information taken from www.lotc.org.uk)
The new association will take time to develop and more information will be available on the IOL website in coming weeks, see: www.outdoor-learning.org/Default.aspx?tabid=104
The ingredients of the curriculum – what goes in and what does not – are being hotly debated at the moment regarding Environmental Education. NAEE is part of this debate, but we need to ensure our advice is ready to roll out, when the Curriculum Reviews are complete.
Here are my thoughts on this debate, I hope it stimulates thought and discussion, and get in touch if you have any comments for us about it.
- What do we mean by ‘environmental education’?
- What should ‘environmental education’ look like?
- How is it similar/different from pure science/geography?
- How do teachers include it in an already-busy timetable?
We aim to produce a series of key ideas and transform these into short pieces, which will then become part of a NAEE Environmental Education Paper policy with exemplars.
NAEE is a key player in promoting Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to be part of/a major theme within school curriculum.
As executive member and former EE advisor Sue Fenoughty points out:
“This definitely seems to be the moment when we must act, as in this article from the Guardian, it says there are going to be major changes to science studies under the reforms for the national curriculum with the Science curriculum expected to ‘emphasise using the natural habitat around schools – learning biology by studying the growth and development of trees, for example’ – so, in other words, much more emphasis on using the local environment. (environmental education). The article mention that the science curriculum in Japan has at its core the love of nature … and, as we know, you can’t develop a love of nature unless you’ve been out in a natural environment.”
The new programmes of study are being published for consultation this week, and are to be introduced in schools in September 2014, so not far away.
Yes, it’s all ‘up in the air’ and no-one knows where it will end up. And yes, it’s confusing and frustrating in the meantime. But also, yes, NAEE will have some key concrete ideas to present – intelligent responses and exemplars to the questions when they come along.
Henricus Peters, NAEE CoChair
Friday 6th July 2012 marks the Empty Classroom Day, a day where pupils will head outside to learn, and we would like you to join us! This exciting initiative seeks to uniquely tackle recent concerns, from both the National Trust and Natural England, that children are suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’ and that there is an ‘extinction of experience’ when engaging with the natural environment.
The Empty Classroom Day is happening right across the UK, but was created by a collection of organisations who met at the London Sustainable Schools Forum (LSSF), all supporting learning outside the classroom, school grounds and growing. The day was developed to help schools benefit from outdoor learning and share their best practice with other schools.
Schools are signing up to support outdoor learning and to show that one class will be learning outside for one lesson on Friday 6th July. Pupils will be:
- Doing their maths lesson in the playground
- Making art on city farms
- Doing bug hunts at nature reserves
- Running races for school sports days
- Bird watching in their playgrounds
- Writing stories in the local park
- Following maps in Zoos
- Weeding in the school vegetable patch.
What are the benefits?
Learning outside the classroom can be fun, memorable and healthy. Everyone benefits from learning outside:
- Young people will get the chance to learn in new, more relevant and exciting ways – in particular these can benefit those who find classroom learning difficult
- Teachers will be able to broaden and deepen their teaching skills and subject knowledge while working with more motivated pupils
- The school can use these new approaches to raise achievement
- The wider community can benefit through involvement in, for example, developing school gardens of all kinds, leading to a wider understanding of issues such as healthy eating, sustainability and caring for the environment.
How does my school join?
Schools can sign up to the event by following this link:
For those schools that have signed up there are special offers for visits, tours, treasure hunts and lots of activity packs with ideas for what your class can do in your school playground.
We hope you and your school can join us on this fantastic initiative and that we can take learning outdoors together!
- By Sarah Simmons, NAEE Member
I celebrated Earth Hour for the first time at the RIBI assembly dinner on 31st March: the lights were switched off and hundreds of candles illuminated the area. This was my first experience to a beautifully simple idea that has become a massive global phenomenon, which has successfully united an extraordinary number of people across the globe. This simple symbiotic act carries a huge environmental message.
Hundreds of millions take time to switch off their lights for an hour on the last Saturday in March as they are driven by the thought of positive action to help tackle climate change and protect the natural world from the impacts of our ever consuming lifestyles. This is fantastic and inspiring and NAEE encourages people to go beyond just the hour and extend energy saving that can make such a difference into their daily lives.
The way we live has impacts that we can not always determine or haven’t yet experienced: these can range from weather changes such as droughts and flooding to food shortages, loss of species and deforestation. So, Earth Hour is not just about saving electricity, it is much greater than that. It is about realising that the actions we take; to the energy we use; the food we eat and the water we drink – all have an effect on our planet.
We all depend on our amazing world and need to care and look after it, not just for an hour, but for every single day of the year.
The analysis after tracking the total electricity demand during the day and comparing it with the corresponding profile of previous Saturdays in the UK showed that there was indeed a significant reduction in the mid evening peak when people often switch lights on. Overall, this translated to a massive saving of around 2,850 tonnes of CO2, an impressive figure
WWF reported that hundreds of millions of people in a record 150 countries and 6,434 towns and cities across the world took part to show they care about our brilliant planet. In the UK, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Clifton Suspension Bridge, HMS Victory, Edinburgh Castle, Parliament Building in Northern Ireland and the Welsh Assembly were just a few of the landmarks that took part.
Communities across the country also ran local events and thousands took part making this year’s Earth Hour the biggest yet, with an estimated 20,000 visitors per minute on its youtube channel and by the time the switch off had reached South Asia, Earth Hour was trending on twitter.
Gabrielle Back, CoChair, NAEE.
There’s new evidence that our minds thrive away from it all. This report via Children and Nature Network
Read about this at Environmental Education blog by co-chair Henricus Peters
From Children and Nature
Want to make a decent living and a better life? Here’s one way. Get a job – a nature-smart job. Or better yet, be a nature-smart entrepreneur. By that, I don’t mean a career devotedonly to energy efficiency. That’s important, but there’s a whole new category of green jobs coming. These careers and avocations will help children and adults become happier, healthier and smarter, by truly greening where people live, work, learn and play.
Nature-smart workplace architect or designer. Studies of workplaces that have been created or retrofitted through biophilic (love of nature) design show improved product quality, customer satisfaction and innovation. Successful models include the Herman Miller headquarters building, designed for abundant natural light, indoor plants, and outdoor views, including views of a restored wetlands and prairie on company grounds. After moving into the building, 75 percent of day-shift office workers said they considered the building healthier and 38 percent said their job satisfaction had improved.
• Nature-smart residential builder. They’ll specialize in window-appeal (the view of nature from inside the home) — not just curb appeal. They’ll know how to place a new house in sync with the sun’s movements, use local materials to reflect the nature and history of the region, install a super-insulated green roof that can last 80 years, design for natural air-conditioning, and weave nature in homes and offices in even the most crowded urban neighborhoods.
• Nature-smart yard and garden specialist, who will help homeowners and businesses reduce traditional lawns, and replace them with bird-attracting native vegetation, butterfly gardens, chlorine-free natural swimming ponds, organic vegetable gardens, beehives, places to raise chickens and ducks and gather eggs. As local governments continue to loosen regulations on yard farming, and as nearby production of food becomes more important, this specialty will become more popular.
• Urban wildscaper. Urban designers, landscape architects, and other professionals who develop or redevelop neighborhoods that connect people to nature through the creation of biophilically-designed buildings and preservation of natural land will be increasingly in demand. They will design and establish biodiverse parks, urban forests and community gardens, wildlife corridors and other wild lands. Seattle recently announced plans for a massive urban forest that will produce free food. Wildscapers will also manage wildlife populations.
• Outside-In decorator, who will bring the outside in, creating or improving our homes to nurture health and well-being through nature: “living walls” of vegetation that purify air; indoor vertical vegetable gardens with automatic drip-irrigation systems; biophilic decorations such as twig furniture; fluorescent lights that adjust throughout the day via light sensors at the windows; bird-warning elements for windows; indoor water gardens and other living features. So will individual homeowners decorating their own homes. This goes way beyond Feng Shui.
• New Agrarian. Who’s that? Urban farmers who design and operate community gardens. Designers and operators of vertical farms in high-rise buildings. Organic farmers and innovative vanguard ranchers who use sophisticated organic practices to produce food. The focus is on local, family-scale sustainable food, fiber, and fuel production in, near, and beyond cities.
• Health care provider who prescribes nature. Ecopsychologists, wilderness therapy professionals, are going mainstream. Some pediatricians are now prescribing or recommending “green exercise” in parks and other natural settings to their young patients and their families. Hospitals, mental health centers, and nursing home are creating healing gardens. The Portland, Oregon parks department partners with physicians who send families to local parks, where park rangers serve as health para-profesionals. In the U.K., a growing “green care” movement encourages therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy, and green care farming.
• Green exercise trainer. Exercising indoors and outdoors seems to produce different results. Even when the same number of calories are burned. Outside exercise appears to have better results, especially for psychological well-being. Green exercise trainers can help individuals and families individually or by organizing “green gyms” and family nature clubs. “People walkers” can help the elderly take a hike.
• Natural teacher. As parents and educators learn more about the brain-stimulating power of learning in natural settings, demand will increase for nature-based schools and nature-based experiential learning, providing new opportunities for natural teachers and natural playscape and school garden designers. Librarians can be natural teachers, too, creating bioregional “naturebraries.”
• Bioregional guide. We’ll see the emergence of the citizen naturalist who, as professionals or volunteers, help people get to know where they live. One organization, Exploring a Sense of Place in the San Francisco Bay Area, guides groups that want to have a deeper understanding of the life surrounding them. Think of these guides as nature-smart Welcome Wagons who help us develop a deeper sense of personal and local identity.
The list of possible careers can go on. Stream restorers, law-enforcement officials who use nature for crime prevention and improved prison recidivism, specialists in nature-based geriatric services. Once the entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, it’s easy to start thinking of products and services. And when people begin to consider the career possibilities of human restoration through nature, their eyes light up: here is a positive, hopeful view of the human relationship with the Earth, a way to make a living and a life.
Richard Louv is chairman emeritus of The Children and Nature Network and the author of “THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age,” from which this piece is adapted, and “LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” On April 16, he gave the keynote address at the first White House Summit on Environmental Education.
Related: It’s Time to Redefine Green Jobs
- How do YOU connect with nature? (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Green Jobs Help The Planet And Communities Of Color (thinkprogress.org)
- Planting some green this Earth Day (google-latlong.blogspot.com)
- More Garden, More Herbs (popcornonthestove.com)
- When was the last time you hugged a tree? (prakritiatpeace.wordpress.com)
- 10 Ideas for Sexy Urban Gardens (ecosalon.com)
- Urban gardening as a future project (followmyself.wordpress.com)
- Naturalness (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)
- Getting your Hands Dirty and your Toes Covered in Mud: Gardening with Kids (schoolmarmohio.com)
- Mary Mary Quite Contrary… (catseyesk.wordpress.com)
- Planting some green this Earth Day (googleblog.blogspot.com)
- Green Jobs Help the Planet And Communities Of Color (earthtechling.com)
- Scottish Renewable Sector To Create More ‘Green’ Jobs (train4tradeskills.wordpress.com)
- New Report Says the UK Renewable Sector Could Create Millions of New Jobs (train4tradeskills.wordpress.com)
The early childhood years are crucial for learning and development. That should involve a great deal of outdoor physical activity and playtime, but that’s not always the case. Nearly half of 3 to 5 year olds are not taken outdoors by a parent or caregiver every day, according to research presented in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine this week. “There’s a big room for improvement in how parents prioritize their time and what they’re doing in the time they’re spending with their pre-school children,” said lead study author Dr. Pooja Tandon of Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
Read the full post at : http://www.childrenandnature.org/news/detail/no_outdoor_play_for_many_kids/
Posted by : Henricus Peters
- Nearly half of preschool children not taken outside to play by parents on a daily basis: Study (eurekalert.org)
- Nearly half of preschoolers lack 1 parent-supervised playtime per day (eurekalert.org)
- Nearly half of preschoolers lack one parent-supervised playtime per day (sciencedaily.com)
- Less Outdoor Playtime for Preschool Girls (parenting.blogs.nytimes.com)
- You’re probably not taking your kids to the park enough, new study says (theglobeandmail.com)
- No Outdoor Play for Many Kids – MedPage Today (drugstoresource.wordpress.com)
From Children and Nature
The good news about diversity in the outdoors is that there already a number of outstanding groups and organizations doing a lot of great work to get everyone outside whether they be African American, Hispanic, Asian, underserved, military youth, veterans, etc. All of us though, need to do a better job telling the story and more people need to get involved… outside of course.
Many of these organizations, including the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) program that I mentioned in the last blog have an opportunity for you to get involved as a volunteer, a donor, a leader, or just to help spread the word. Some of these organizations are listed below:
- Through the Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors, you have your choice of getting involved in Outings, Inner City Outings, Building Bridges to the Outdoors, the Military Family and Veterans Initiative, or National Outings. One of many great story about the impact of outings in general is the story of one of the Sierra Club’s many great volunteers, Liz Wheelan.
- Outdoor Outreach, discussed in our first blog is doing great work in San Diego and will be piloting a program in 2012 focused on developing outdoor leadership skills amongst a targeted audience of military youth.
- Big City Mountaineers, who train mentors on outdoor skills and partner them with youth on week long outings into the mountains. You can also get involved through their Summit for Someone program and are launching a pilot project this year bringing the military community in to the fold through training veterans to lead youth, as well as a 9/11/12 Summit for Someone focused on youth who may have lost a parent at war.
- The Children and Nature Network’s Natural Leader’s Network, headed up by National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Juan Martinez, from Los Angeles. Juan often reminds people that the rain and nature don’t care what color your skin is.
- The Nation’s largest skiing community is the National Brotherhood of Skiers.
- One of the coolest websites on the internet, and from what I’ve heard and experienced, one of the most genuine organizations out there: http://www.outdoorafro.com
- The name here says it all: http://www.africanamericanoutdoors.com/index.html
- And for a great novel that tells a compelling story about the military and African American experience in the outdoors from the last century, Shelton Johnson‘s Gloryland, is one of the best.
This list is far from complete and I know there are many other fantastic athletes that I have not had time to discuss. We have also not discussed issues of accessibility in the outdoors, but that will be coming. I hope in the comments section we can continue to identify other athletes and organizations and strategies who are making a difference every day in getting America, all of America, outside.
Finally, we must remember to be intentional in our efforts. In many conversations with partners and potential partners for my work with military families and veterans, I often here people say, “But our programs are not exclusive, veterans are welcome.” And so they are, and so are men and women of other races and colors, but unless the invitation is deliberate, the message may not get across.
The trick is making sure the invitation is not condescending and speaks to the community you, we, are hoping to welcome and that we are willing to meet the new group half way. We cannot continue to expect new participants in the outdoors to only do it our way. It has to be a two way street (or path or portage) where both groups have something to learn from one another.
I hope to see you out on the trail!
- “21 Jump Street” Is Right: Environmentalists Are Now the Cool Kids in High School! (naeeuk.wordpress.com)
- Getting Veterans and Their Families Outdoors (treehugger.com)