Feedback on our Nature Kindergarten Orientation Days in June

Those of you who participated in our Nature Kindergarten Orientation in June will recall that we were keen to receive your feedback to guide us as we develop future learning opportunities.  enid wrote the post that follows, and together we determined that this blog was a better forum, than email, to invite you to participate in a discussion question.

Dear Building Our Compass folks–

We had a great orientation and it was wonderful to meet you all and hear what you are doing…very inspiring! We are a community of learners and thinkers. Thank you for all your attention, thought and willingness to engage. There are lots of interesting projects going on.

I am going to bring up a discussion question…if you have time it might be nice to hear from you to carry the discussion further.

One person noted and others may have thought that our Friday with the naturalists and their pre-planned activities presented a challenge to the previous two days that focused on a play-based, emergent curriculum. How do pre-planned curriculum ideas/activities connect to an emergent curriculum?

There were lovely ideas from “growing up wild” and the activities may well connect with ideas that children find of interest. It seems to me that it is still a model that presumes to know what children want to know/should know….activities can certainly stimulate children’s thinking and questions. Children’s responses to the activities can be a guide to future ideas. Some children like to name and classify but others may want to experience the joy and wonder of being outside…and these are not
mutually exclusive…and one is not better than the other. We need artists, scientists, lover of the outdoors and community members who enjoy their place in the world….there are many skills needed outdoors and we bring many gifts to our relationships outside.
I am interested in your feedback to this idea. I hope to share with the Project Wild folks some different ideas that move away from child development and linear learning and suggest another model that embraces a more holistic way. They might be interested in ideas of listening to children and promoting ways to think together with children and how they might encourage teachers to do this. Who we think the child is influences how we perceive them and how we feel they should learn.

Would love to hear your thoughts….  enid

4 Responses

  1. I see value in exposing/guiding the children through lessons like Wild Bc provided. I also know that effective educators take cues from the children they work with and allow the children to guide their teaching. There is definitely a place for all forms of exposure – explicit teaching, guided exploration, free exploration and interactions with others and the world around them, I will definitely be using a varied approach with my students this coming year as we strive to be outside at least an
    hour a day.

  2. This is an interesting debate, thanks for getting it started. One thing that sounded hopeful to me when Carolyn, Nancie and Sue presented the Growing Up Wild material was how they suggested the program applied a focus on celebrating the wonder and awe-inspiring capacity of the natural world in contrast to many displaced and dissected science-ed curricular add-on pieces which promote more of a mechanical approach to teaching and learning.
    I recently re-discovered a book which had some interesting points on this that I thought I’d share. The book is by Davis, Sumara and Luce-Kapler (2008) and is called: Engaging Minds: Changing Teaching in Complex Times.
    – The authors feel that responses to our current eco-crisis must necessarily involve “knowing differently, rather then merely to know more”. How does Growing Up Wild promote chances to know differently? What does it mean to simply ‘know more’ in terms of ecoliteracy?
    – The authors also question an approach to ecoliteracy in schools that values “objective data, easily quantifiable and repeatable measures of success, fragmentation, reductionism, separation, digestible nuggets of knowledge, memorisable and reproducible” and suggests an approach that emphasizes a “seeking, or journey towards knowing yourself through knowing your place in the world. A different type of knowledge, embodied, embedded, self affirming, messy, not easily measurable or repeatable, highly individual, yet collective and connected as common as can be, valuing multiple ways of knowing”. What role can Aboriginal ways of knowing play here?
    – Instead of teaching being about telling and directing, it’s about “triggering and disturbing…teaching cannot be only about zeroing in on predetermined conclusions. It must be something beyond the replication and perpetuation of the existing possible. Rather, teaching seems to be more about expanding the space of the possible and creating conditions for the emergence of the as-yet-unimagined” – I love that concept – a pedagogical focus on things ‘as-yet-unimagined”…!
    Food for thought…

  3. dear chris, such good thoughts and i share many of your points here. i wonder if we can disrupt some of the expectations that come with a classroom when we wander outside and create more possibilities for learning and for children seeing themselves as active learners??

    i think it is most important that children see themselves as learners, as people who can learn, inquire, problem solve, understand and use it in their lives. sometimes i think that we forget that reading, writing and adding, etc are skills that are learned so we can think more deeply or investigate more broadly.

    when we see ourselves as a teacher/learner (can we separate them?) we see ourselves as effective in the world–we have a voice, we have capabilities.

    i presented to the wild bc folks this summer and they are so receptive to these ideas. they bring such passion and joy to their work outside interacting with the local natural environment. i was charmed and caught up in their enthusiasm. i think that they can bring a different understanding to this work of teaching outside when these ideas are shared with them.

    i hope others will add their thoughts here. enid

  4. Oh my goodness! I love this program! I wish I lived in Sooke and had a small child!
    I am a teacher of 20 years and some of my best learning moments have been outside at the shore of a lake or in the bush!
    I will be watching…just for the pure jealous notions of your beautiful classroom!