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Monday, 23 September 2013

Nature Enthusiasm

In the Digital Age, How to Get Students Excited About Going Outdoors

This fantastic article by Holly Korbey (follow the link above for the full article) highlights the need to get students excited and enthusiastic about the outdoors before depressing them with stories of rainforest destruction, pollution and global warming. Why would they care about the environment before they love it.

The problem with modern education is that this excitement can't be cultivated in schools unless there are big changes. My love of the countryside and environment does not come from geography field trips or biology lessons but from recreational activities such as participation in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, taking part in the Exmoor challenge, working as a pest controller shooting rabbits at golf courses and learning bushcraft in my parents back garden.  I was never advised at school that I could pursue a career in the countryside but was more often than not chastised for not focusing in class and not concentrating on my academic work. I eventually went to a college to study game and wildlife management (which I loved) after putting up with school all the way through GCSE's and A levels but I only found out about options to study a vocational subject at college because I was skipping school to buy ammunition from a local gunshop and heard about courses at Sparsholt College from the owner of the shop.

It was studying at Sparsholt that really enthused me about the outdoors and the countryside and I have worked in the countryside industry ever since. Now I enjoy watching my students develop a passion for the outdoors, whether they study agriculture, outdoor education, countryside management or are just taking part in an activity as a bit of fun, getting them excited and enthusiastic is the key. I often teach friction firelighting to students during their freshers week as a team building activity and I once taught an agriculture student who was so determined and enthusiastic to succeed that he refused to stop trying until his arm became so stiff from trying to work his bow drill that he could hardly move it for two days afterwards. This is the kind of enthusiasm that we need to instill in students who will be the next generation of outdoors professionals.

This diagram by the Swedish Friluftsfrämjandet explains the principle marvellously;

this picture explains the objectives of a skogsmulle (equivalent to Forest School in the UK and aimed at young children) programme and points out that you have to be in nature and enjoy it before you can influence society about the environment. 

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