Thursday, June 19, 2008

Teaching in the Outdoors (summary of learning)

I walked into this class with almost no experience teaching children or teaching in the outdoors, which also happened to be my motivators for taking the class. I was excited to be exposed to teaching in the outdoors because it boils down truly to what I'd like to do as a career. If I can inspire a love of nature and a true connection to it, I can really make some kind of difference in the next generations of children that are coming into the world.

I am extremely happy with the way the course went, and I think that have fulfilled my goals (to learn some of the logisitics with dealing with groups of people in the outdoors, and different ways to keep people focused and engaged in the out of doors). I think I gained a lot of insight from thinking about the roadblocks and talking to the class about their experiences in helping others overcome the roadblocks that we face when getting people to be involved in nature. I also feel that being asked to sit and journal, sit and take in what is going on around me really did help me to clarify my brain after a long day of learning as well. I didn't write as much in my journaling as I actually thought about (it's actually been a long time since I've done so much writing with a pen so I couldn't really keep up with my thoughts.) I think that by having us all share activities with each other I was able to see how they would be related to different ages and different learning styles, and it is fantastic to now have a set of activities which I can use in my practica if necessary.

Centering on the design motifs, I also think that there are some in that list I wouldn't normally have thought to use, such as fantasy and small worlds, but are just as helpful as the hunter-gatherer and adventure themes that I am used to. I really think that place-based education is the future of our education, and the map making along with all the other motifs could be used with any age level outside to help to bring the environment to them and get them reconnected with the world around them. I appreciated the discussion of the motifs and I was also delighted to see that the motifs were all touched on in our final activities. (Like the fantasy of finding "baby dragons" and making maps of an unfamiliar territory, hunting and seeking certain things in nature, the adventure of being blindfolded in the woods, pretending to be monkeys with great enthusiasm...) It is always easy for me to see the hunter/gatherer opportunity for learning but it is great to add the other motifs to my bag of tricks as well.

Additionally, the references that were available will be useful to me in my practica, and we have some of the same resources available at the Wells Reserve where I will be teaching. Overall I feel like the course has given me familiarity with what types of learning goes on in the outdoors and by doing so increased my confidence upon starting my practicum in July.

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