Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Dream: Nature Schools

I've recently (here and here) talked about two touchstones of inspiration for me: Atul Gawande's writings about the notion of checklists for hospital protocol, and Tom Horn's amazing school in Oregon. Here's a third: Cedarsong Nature School and its kin.

Human beings are experiential beings, and children are especially so. And as we increasingly lose touch with our place in the natural world, we are increasingly in danger of destroying ourselves, and everything we're connected with--which is everything. My ideal school would, like Erin Kenny's Cedarsong,  have children outside--rain or shine, snow or heat--exploring, measuring, comparing, reflecting, listening.

Cedarsong right now is a part-time kindergarten, its set-up closer to daycamp than to K-12 schooling. Students spend all of their time at Cedarsong outside, but that means at most three hours, a few times a week. My questions are:
  • Will our nation's obsession with academic development, to the detriment of all other kinds of development, keep these schools to kindergarten only? Or deter their growth all together?
  • Aside from the standards quandary, could this concept extend past the baby grades, into more academic grades, maybe continuing with the three-hours-outside rule?
  • How about all the way up to high school? How about culminating in an outward-bound sort of project-based program that combined academic concepts with experiential wilderness ones?
  • Can this concept work outside of a "quirky" bedroom communities, as Fox calls Vashon Island where Cedarsong is located, and other regions already strongly predisposed toward producing Nature Children? Could acknowledging the existence nature become at all mainstream again?

Here is a blog that has a list of other nature schools near Seattle. All quite will be exciting to watch them grow.

No comments:

Post a Comment