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 .

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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.

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7 Responses to “Outdoor School SOLSC 17”

  1. shaggerspicchu March 17, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    Oh the nature. I just wish I could teach children in the middle of the forest. It sounds like you would too! What a wonderful experience that would be. I am lucky. I have the most amazing outdoor space in my school, surrounded by trees, birds and butterflies. We get to spend half our day out there and I see the benefit, first hand of how the children change, grow and learn in this environment. I am changing schools next year and I will truly miss the outdoor environment!

  2. arjeha March 17, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    It’s a shame that worthwhile programs suffer in hard economic times. We use to take our 6th grade students on a three day camping trip with all classes geared to an outdoor theme. It got too expensive. However, with liability being what it is today I don’t know if I would feel comfortable doing it anymore.

  3. Latisha March 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    I am really sad to hear that the kids don’t get to experience “Outdoor School” anymore. I wish that teachers could decide budget priorities. School would probably look and feel different for so many children. Thanks for sharing!

  4. elsie March 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    I have to admit, I am not a camping fan. But, I think it’s a great experience for all kids to try once. Too bad budget cuts hit that program.

  5. Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff) March 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Even before I got to the end, I was thinking about Last Child in the Woods. I live and teach in a rural area, so being outdoors is much more normal for most of my students. Being inside all day for school is harder for them. They can sit still and silent for hours in a deer stand, but not for five minutes in class! I know times have been tough, but it’s a shame that such important experiences as Outdoor School have gotten cut.

  6. lromainebrown March 17, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    What a persuasive argument for a book recommendation. Add to our urban/suburban kids growing up indoors, in pre-fab environments apart from nature their early onset use of electronics…this is all likely to bend them in a direction. Good or bad, I cannot say.

  7. LibraryDragon March 18, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    I am very blessed my library looks out onto of the two courtyards at my school. For the last two years we have had a mother duck come and lay eggs. We set up a cam corder so the kids at school could watch. This winter we hung bird feeders in the trees.

    I think kids benefit when they have those connections. Your writing really spoke to me, I feel the loss from a program that made such a difference.

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