Archive | 5:38 am

Outdoor School SOLSC 17

17 Mar

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day and I’m wearing green, of course. Green happens to be one of my favorite colors.I tend to like dark greens, the earthy tones,  rather than lighter ones. To me,  is Canada in Summer, but Oregon in Winter. And that gets me thinking about Outdoor School .

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 6.24.41 PM

It used to be that all 6th graders in Oregon went to Outdoor School. We’s pack our suitcases & sleeping bags and set off in a school bus for someplace in the woods where our suburban kids had never been. It felt very far away to many of them, even though to was less than 2 hours from home. Psychologically it was another planet for some. Our kids den;t grow up camping or hiking, all the things I’d grown up doing. These were apartment kids. Some of them lived in complexes where their parents didn’t let them play outside.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that some of them were afraid in the woods, but it did. . The kids weren’t allowed to walk anywhere alone,  for that reason, and for general safety purposes. Once, walking an African-American girl to the restrooms, she actually asked me if I was scared. I was surprised and said no.. She told me it freaked her out to be in the woods. She couldn’t see very far and it was unfamiliar. Who know what was lurking around the bend in the path?   To me, forests represent peace and serenity; to her they meant danger and the unknown, like the worst parts of a Grimm fairytale.

Times are tough and that doesn’t happen in my school district anymore. It hasn’t happened since before the recession. And I think it is a shame. It was one of the early victims of school funding.Libraries and music are more recent casualties.

If you haven’t read it, I recommend The Last Child in the Woods  by Richard Louv. It gets criticized for its lack of empirical evidence, and it rambles, but it gets you thinking about kids, like the ones I taught, who are disconnected from the outdoors.


%d bloggers like this: