“Three things are needed for education: nature, learning and exercise”
Nature schools incorporate green learning into their philosophy and essentially advocate the following : It is in nature that the clearest and most vivid thinking is born, it is in nature that the child thinks figuratively, experiencing the joy and pleasure of acquiring knowledge.
Today, more than ever, children’s lives are different. Their physical boundaries have shrunk as their experiences come from the media, the written word and digital images. So today, more than ever, children need nature!
Appearance of schools of nature
Fortunately, in recent years in Europe something seems to be changing in the education of children. In Germany in particular, the new trend in pre-school education is forest kindergartens. Of course, the first ‘Forest Kindergarten’ is recorded in 1951 in Denmark.
What they are and what their philosophy is ?
Its background is the theories of great educational theorists and reformers, such as John Dewey, Maxine Greene, Paulo Freire, and Nel Noddings, who, directly and indirectly, discussed the concepts of experience and autonomy through their theories of pedagogy and democratic practices. Also inspiring is the work of Alexander Neil, Celestin Freinet, Maria Montessori and Loris Malaguzzi, among others, who created learning environments based on experiential learning, learning in the natural environment and in outdoor spaces, and made possible the connections between the concept of autonomy and the experiences that individuals must have in order to develop it.
What a school of nature means ?
The name is not only a geographical designation but also indicates the content of education. It means to get closer to nature but also to our nature, the nature of man. The aim is to create an environment where the child is allowed to be himself. To be able to test his potential, to discover his aptitudes and to develop the parts of himself that in his life so far he has not been given the opportunity to do so. The child also learns to develop an ecological awareness, which is important and significant for his or her entire later life.
All this especially in big cities where the pace of life and the urban lifestyle leaves no room for children to experiment and get in touch with the natural environment.
What does the child learn at the Nature School?
They learn to trust themselves through action and through situations that are imaginative and adventurous. He learns to move safely in and out of the school, to observe nature around him, to interpret his observations and to relate them to himself and to life. He experiences himself as part of nature, where everything around him has meaning and value. Children participate in projects that have to do with school animals, the kitchen, building (natural building) or natural farming, etc. They turn the classroom into space or a crater, and the whole floor into a forest or a pirate ship. They look for messages from the fairies in the woodland below the school and make plans to help them.
Learning at Nature School is based on play, which is our primary medium, and on the many different experiences that give the child choices. It is holistic and connects the subjects to each other and to everyday life.
By combining nature with learning and learning with nature, the only certainty is that children develop into thinking adolescents and in the process into healthy adults!