I was reading an article in Time magazine recently the subject of which was creativity. The article mentioned some statistics that were sort of staggering to me. The main data point of concern was that public school students will take 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and high school graduation. The article argued education is so focused on standardization, it’s prohibiting creativity to flourish. The sad part is that curiosity, creativity and movement are critical for brain development in children. The sensory system needs lots of input including climbing, pulling, pushing, jumping, spinning, balancing...just to name a few.
Kids intuitively know what they need. This is why you’ll see a 4 year old spinning around a tree or a 6 year old jumping over tires at the playground. They are navigating their natural brain wiring through sensory input. Giving kids time outdoors in nature affords them myriad opportunities to gain the sensory input their nervous systems are begging for. And when they get this input, their focus and attention improves. As an added bonus, they become connected to our earth and with each other. When you take away the walls, the devices, and the desks we can connect, collaborate and learn together. An outdoor and/or nature setting allows for an enhanced sensory experience, improved social/emotional development, and an appreciation of nature.
We want to empower our students and children to ask questions, knock down barriers and create a peaceful, better world. They can only learn this by being out in the world, working together and growing together. I envision a world with children outside 50% of their day. How can we expect kids to build a better world from behind a desk or learn how to solve for the earth’s problems from a test? The answers for the world’s toughest challenges lie inside the minds and hearts of our children. But we must unlock it by giving them the freedom to wonder, an environment to explore, and the permission to fail and try again.