Bringing education outdoors

We’re not alone in our desire to bring education outdoors.  Nature based experiential learning is cropping up all over the United States, and abroad.  We’ve recognized the need to reconnect young learners with the wonders of the natural world, we’re talking about it on a national scale, but there are some dedicated educators who are doing more that just talking about it, they’re literally bringing education outdoors.

“I told my students here I want [the Prodigy students] to walk away from this experience thinking, ‘You know, that was really cool and I can’t wait to do that again.’ They don’t have to know the difference between a red oak and a white oak, a deer track and a raccoon track. And if [teachers] use that as part of the curriculum to get them to embrace nature and kind of hook them, then that’s great. But if they don’t, I just want them to get out into nature and taste it,” said Holman, who is in his third semester of teaching Nature Literacy.

College students in Tom Holman’s Nature Literacy class in Southeast Missouri State University are not only reconnecting with nature themselves they’re taking it one step further and leading classes with local grade school students from the Prodigy Leadership Academy.

I love this for a number of reasons!  First being that these college students are forced out of their comfort zone, they’re required to have a “nature experience” themselves that could include kayaking, camping, hiking, etc., and write about it.  All too often, especially in the hectic college years, time spent outdoors is nonexistent-walking to class being the only exception.  Time spent away from computers, books, and smart phones can strengthen the bonds between friends, decrease stress, and improve overall health and happiness.  But beyond that they’re becoming nature teachers to the next generation.  Small groups of college students work together to design a lesson plan, communicate with the Prodigy Leadership Academy teachers, and them implement the class.  This sounds like an excellent way to reinforce the ideas they’re studying in class.  To learn more about the Nature Literacy program at Southeast Missouri State click here.

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