My main beef with schools is that they are an utter waste
of young life because they don't educate.
Education is preparing someone for life and schools fail to do that" Terry Deary
........and I am in a school!!
A school unlike the ones described by Terry Deary
|A space where you are trusted, a place for freedom, creativity and natural exploration.|
|Feeling the natural environment - really being part of it|
There are of course many differences between Scotland and Australia; in climate, in fauna and in flora, in risks as well as in culture that I need to be aware of but these I can research to develop an understanding.
I believe that children the world over develop, play and learn in a similar manner and that the curricular outcomes adults design and teach to, do not change that ..... children themselves are not dictated to by a changing curriculum. Deep level, long term real, contextual learning and understanding is achieved when children are motivated by the learning opportunity and this happens when children are allowed to influence the program and are also allowed to explore their interests in depth. Children do not learn in set 45 minute periods ......... that is not enough time to really explore and complete an investigation....... no wonder many children or young people struggle to complete tasks as they mature!
As a group we created a 3D mindmap about saws to find out what knowledge the children had, then looked at the possible risks of using various different tools. We discussed and I demonstrated how to use the tools safely with children making the suggestions and rules.
I demonstrated the new Treewrap™, the children helped to decide what should go into it for our adventure into the bush. ALL the tools, wire, twine, tarpaulin, shadow sheet!
Gathering at the garden gate the children counted how many children were present that day, they then each picked up a special stone, placed it on a log and counted the stones. Each stone represents a child; on their return from the bush, children would take one of the stones off the log; if any stones are left they will know that somebody is missing – in this way children are part of taking care of the group's welfare.
Children helped to wrap the Treewrap™ around a large tree rather than suspending it between two smaller trees; now they could select and have free access to the tools and resources displayed in the pockets or hung from the Velcro straps. A storage system allows adults to have an overview of what tools are in use; children are encouraged to bring tools and resources back and not to leave them lying on the ground.
|Sticks used to mark make and to construct,|
Everybody very quickly settled down – each child free to choose what they wanted to engage in and adults there to offer support if needed or requested but otherwise to record children’s comments and actions as well as observing and assessing the interaction and learning. Adults are or should be very much part of any high quality environment, observations and assessments are continuous and not intrusive to the children's play or concentration. It should not be necessary to set up activities to do this.
|Signing the first page of the Project Book|
|Sharing our reflections|
|Splitting reeds and removing the soft centre|
|The baby fairy bed|
Many children enjoyed exploring what the hand-drill can do and took turns with the one we had, negotiating as well as sometimes compromising! This little boy was fascinated by the mechanism and technology of the hand-drill, he carefully watched the cogs move as he turned the handle. He experimented drilling into different branches and logs - some were soft and decomposing while others were very hard or still green. He drilled through a stick and tried to simultaneously drill through a gum-nut - concentrating to position the objects so that they lined up. He did not get frustrated but quietly persevered at the tasks he had set himself.
|Drill through the stick and the Gum-nut|
|Helping to change the drill bit|
Another little boy used the hand borer to make holes in a seedpod he had found and then pushed a piece of wire into the hole.
The files were also very popular with children experimenting on different sticks and branches and using different angles of the file as they were easy to use and results were immediate. Some created patterns on sticks, while others worked on getting the wood as smooth as possible, I was impressed by the descriptive language these young children used.
One child spent all his time in the bush creating a caterpillar world with a cocoon, a place for them to sleep or hide in as well as making a caterpillar using two sticks balanced at right angles to each other creating a triangle - very tricky until he tied them together with wire. Others joined him, contributing and then moving away again.
A great deal of time was spent on a very detailed mini shelter. One of the older boys initiated this activity and very soon some of the younger ones contributed as well by finding an assortment of natural materials and making suggestions as to how they could be used. The children treated each other with respect and kindness at all times.
As they compared holes, they noticed that all the soil layers were of different depths in the sand holes so fetching the tape measure they then set about measuring the depths of the layers in the holes and then comparing the differences between the holes.
When it was time to go back to the school the children all tidied up making sure all the tools were packed and that no wire or twine had been left behind that could injure any bush creatures. They ran back along the track, some of them so confident in that terrain that they walked backwards, took an exciting short cut through a dry ditch to then enjoy their lunch outdoors - they all ate very well! A new rope web was very popular and the hammock was used to lie in as well as to turn themselves into a cocoon.
I KNOW they increase mine too!
- David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia