learning in nature

learning in nature

This school year, together with my naturalist colleague Fabio Nigro, I lead educational trekkings with class 3.c of the Finow Grundschule in Berlin.

Every month we do a trek in the Grunewald forest and a workshop at school.
On the hike we reach our base camp among beech and black pine trees and propose activities for the children to discover, explore, reflect on and adopt the place where our base camp is located.

At school, through the workshops, we deepen and better study phenomena and materials observed in nature.

From the combination of these two moments, the children learn information and skills that are fixed in their brain areas in a profound way, since the learning has been conveyed by the experience and its elaboration and has therefore been reinforced by sensory perceptions, pleasure and the creation or reinforcement of neuronal connections.

From October onwards, we have proposed various themes: the discovery of the forest ecosystem, the study and observation of trees, seasonal changes in the environment, the sustainable anthropisation of a natural place, the nature resource for people’s physical and psychological wellness. We have not explored these concepts, even complex ones for 8/9 year old children, by inculcating them with information and definitions, but we have given them the opportunity to elaborate on them, starting from the experiences they have lived with us or in their own lives. It is always a great pleasure to give children the opportunity to reason, even in complex ways, and to be aware of what was experienced, to attribute meanings to their own experiences and to derive knowledge and skills from them. The fundamental role of the teacher and educator in these processes is to create the conditions for this to happen. Our work is therefore based on programming, planning and modulation of activities, so as to make possible the meaningful experience and the subsequent moment of first elaboration. A more articulated elaboration takes place for the key concepts during the workshops at school. Finally, the creation of a network of activities which over time recall previous experiences and information, makes it possible to reinforce the memory and create connections which help to understand the complexity of the theme, in this case the forest.

Up to this point I have shared some reflections on the area of learning “school knowledge” in the group. In addition to this, however, during the hikes the group also develops other skills and competences: responsibility for one’s own equipment, the ability to work in groups and cooperatively, a spirit of solidarity within the group, problem solving, respect for the rules of the city and natural spaces.

Finally: this is a pilot project, desired and supported by the families and shared by the teachers: a clear case of an educational network that works.


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