When exploring outside, a few suggestions for engaging kids in authentic learning:
Important first step: Creating a Space for Trust
As an introduction to this new blog, I want to give you an example of this foundation of learning: Creating a Space for Trust.
Here is an example from my own life of how this concept looks in real time.
I was leading my little troop of preschool Nature Campers for an excursion in Goose Island County Park, Stoddard, WI. I had a walking plan, but the boys (ages 4 and 5) had a better idea – to make a dam in the tiny man-made river in the park. They worked together good naturedly for a ½ hour collecting sticks and rocks, and being their own engineers building a dam. It was so amazing, I even heard them humming, a natural instinct when having fun in a safe, relaxed, focused way! As a parent/camp leader/educator, I was in nirvana witnessing this natural unfolding – which, low and behold - had nothing to do with me!
I know, bite your tongue, educators are supposed to be in charge, right?! We’re supposed to pass on knowledge, have everything under control, follow a plan, and stick to the rules, right? I think this is the greatest irony of educators - that the most powerful learning might actually happen when we’re not looking, when we’re not trying to manipulate the process, and lead students to particular results. I remind myself, what are they actually learning then? That adults have all the answers, so why bother? That adults are looking for particular answers, not critical thinking, not creative thinking, and most likely – not having fun!
Kids are not the only ones learning - I learned: To Create Space, then let go and trust the situation!
Have you had a similar experience? Have you tried letting go of controlling the activity, and just see what unfolds? Leave a comment to share your story!