When is the last time you discovered something new and wonderful about the world? Do you remember how it made you feel?
The best part about outdoor education is that it makes room in the school day for discovery, and for the pride and excitement that come along with it.
Yes, we lead many structured academic exercises out in the garden, but sometimes the best learning takes place when we give students unstructured time to explore and discover. What have we discovered this week? At Clay’s garden, we’re digging a pretty deep hole in the lawn. So far we have only discovered worms, but there are some hopes that treasure is down there. We discovered the centipedes and mycelium that live under the stumps in our stump circle. The first ladybug of the season landed on a 4th grader’s hand, to delighted screams. A 1st grade class, chasing robins across the field, developed a fierce desire to help the birds build their nests. After a class full of discovery, one student desperately wanted to share something with the class, and I initially didn’t let him because I assumed it would be something off-topic. When I finally did let him talk, he said, “Excuse me everybody, did you know that worms and plants have a symbiotic relationship! That means they help each other grow!”
I am putting together some lessons for next week on bird nests, centipedes, and symbiotic relationships as we speak. If you give children the space to make discoveries on their own, I think you’ll be delighted with the direction in which they take their education.