Last year, after reading Richard Louv’s “Last Child In The Woods”, I was convinced that I had a nature deficit. Again and again I caught myself comparing Louv’s childhood experiences with mine.
What are my experiences? How do they determine my (pedagogical) actions today?
An article about the influential potential of biography
Nature and family
Trust and let go
I almost always played outside in my childhood.
“I’ll be in the street” was not synonymous for
“I’ll be working as a prostitute in the street”
“I’ll go and play in the street. I’ll be back for dinner. “
Back home my mom scolded (“How do your legs look like?”) because my shins were always full of blue bruises, from climbing, falling, bumping and playing.
On the other hand, our mother found the blue, yellow, red flowers beautiful which we brought from the not so nearby flower meadow. She was not comfortable with us being so far away from the house. Nevertheless, she did not forbid us to go there – at least not that I knew of it: D
At any time we could have fallen from the five-meter-high tree, be able to break our necks at the vineyards, or simply be kidnapped because most of the time no adult was present.
But our parents trusted us and that gave us confidence. Confidence to be able to do it. Trust in our environment. This made us feel comfortable in our environment. Nature was part of our life.
There were simple rules (“be at home for dinner”) that did not particularly limited us.
We were able to test our boundaries because there was no adult. No one was standing next to us and saying “that’s too high, come down there” or “do not play on the road, there could be a car coming every moment”.
Nature as source of food
It was also everyday life for me to go to the garden in summer and eat strawberries, currants, cherries, blackberries, rhubarb, and carrots.
Experiencing nature as something that nurtured me was of incredible value to me.
Today, I am still trying to pass this experience on to children. I have put herbs on the tables in the dining room at the daycare I currently work at. The children can pick herbs at any time and put them in their food.
On the shelf, a sweet potato grows leaf and roots.
A zip bag with three growing beans is stuck to the glass door.
In the greenhouse cress, surprise flowers, zucchini and tomatoes grow.
Every day, the children remember to water the growing plants.
Nature and school
You can eat dandelions?
The favorite food of our tortoise Morla was dandelion. But as a child, I would never have thought I could eat it, too.
In third grade we collected dandelion, sorrel, and other wild herbs, to cook a soup with our teacher. Most of us did not like the soup. I think I do remember that the soup was bitter.
I will also always remember the trip to the farm, picking up milk and the subsequent processing to quark (like greek yogurt) and butter.
This will become a frog??
In our classroom we had an aquarium with tadpoles, which we fished from a small pond on a school trip. We observed closely, as frogs grew out of the small slippery booger (for me tadpoles looked like booger).
No organized excursion was necessary, so that we could observe nature every day.
Our primary school teacher brought nature into the classroom so that we could observe and wonder at any time when we were curious or a classmate noticed a change.
Where does wool come from?
Our teacher kept sheep in her garden and once she brought us wool, which we were allowed to process further. I was so excited that the small, cuddly woolen knot dragged ten meters long until we rolled it on the spindle!
I remember exactly how the wool felt.
Greasy, soft, but at the same time slightly strawy.
After so many years I can still recall this tactile learning moment
as if it had been yesterday.
Reflection of your own biography
Perhaps at that time we got worksheets for cows and farm. I do not remember.
Instead, I see the picture of the white containers with the transparent plastic film in my mind, which contained the milk from which we made butter from.
I have already written in the previous post that I am a practical learner. Learning from experience, learning with all senses.
And that is also shown in my pedagogical practice.
Our biographical experiences influence our (pedagogical) actions.
It is important that we are aware of it and ask ourselves the following questions:
- What connection do I have with nature or generally with “being outside”?
- What experiences have I had with nature?
- How do my experiences influence my current connection to nature?
- What boundaries were set in my childhood? What are the boundaries in my pedagogical practice?
- How do I feel in nature?
- If I feel uncomfortable, what can I do to feel good?
- What was I afraid of before? (maybe spiders or other crawling creature?) How do I deal with this fear today and do I transfer this fear to children?
- Do you still remember the astonishment you felt when you first saw a frog?
- How do you make children be aware of something? Do you still have the spark that can light a fire when you see with the eyes of a child?
Experience nature. Feel nature. Acknowledge nature as a part of your biography.
Experiencing nature is a sensual experience that is linked to emotions, which in turn are imprinted in our memory.
Above all, it is important to trust in a child’s abilities. Children need to test boundaries, for example, to know when the risk of injury is too high.
Wonder when you see a frog – even if it is for the 100th time in your life, you have never seen THIS frog before.
Be enthusiastic when the first rain falls – then it does not take long to jump into the puddles (do you still know how much fun that was back in the days?).
Let children be brave and let them climb on the tallest tree to reach for the stars – the glow in their eyes will last a lifetime when they remember this moment.