I grew up outside.

My family lived on a small (not working) farm. My parents had a huge vegetable garden, and I wandered the 17 acres of field and forests around our home quite freely. As a teenager I spent my summers paddling in Temagami and northern Québec and Manitoba, and after my receiving my Master's degree I pursued an apprenticeship in organic farming in the Maritimes.

In short, I love to be outside, and so the idea of taking school outside was an intuitive one. 

Extensive reading has since grounded that intuition. In his book, Childhood and Nature, David Sobel suggests that there is a common experience shared by the highly creative adults who study the earth and work to protect it: extensive, unstructured time outside under the wing of a caring adult who models respect for the natural world.

Now, when asked, “Why Forest School?” I am able to say, because those who spend time in the natural world come to feel connected to it, start to wonder about it, want to study it, and ultimately, try to protect it.

When asked what I “do”, I know that my work - my hope - is to be the caring adult about which Sobel writes, cultivating environmental stewardship in my young students through that sense of connection to, delight in, and wonder about the natural world. 

I can think of no lesson more worth teaching, no value more worth instilling, no seed more worth planting.

 

 

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