“Take students outside and play” was our mantra leading on from the Chatswood Concourse Theatre Power of Play in Nature seminar with Professor Pasi Sahlberg and Professor Tonia Gray. The debate and has never been more topical in the post-covid phase we are in now. It will be a driving force for the remainder of the term to use our incredible surroundings and take students out of the classroom as much as we can after so much isolation and solitary indoor learning at home.
Naturally PE is done outside most of the time at Glenaeon but the PDH classes/content I teach I sometimes try to teach outside too, adjusting my teaching to non-whiteboard and non-online media use as I do not have it available in the bush.
The students love to be taken outside, they love to sit and learn in nature, it helps them get into a new and different mindset as they listen and smell nature around them talking about issues and discussing matters that are relevant to them of which PDH offers many: friendship, conflict resolution, staying safe, making good decisions, risk taking, relationship, road safety, healthy living to name a few.
The schools Yr 9 program The Cove which is part of the Service Curriculum we are developing more concretely across all year levels also uses nature early in the morning each Monday and this has resumed since Monday June 1. We started off with a 5km run to a natural jetty below Castle Cove (see picture), where we stopped for a few minutes to take in the most beautiful morning scenery before doing some fitness exercises including a moment of conscious mindfulness. It was great to see the students all back sitting in a circle to start the class after a long nine-week forced break.
Students were engaged by identifying some of the positive changes that occurred for them personally and also more globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were encouraged to write and reflect on these positive changes and how to best further pursue and preserve them into the future and what it would take for them to do so. The program builds resilience and aims to connect students to nature and place to enhance the notion of belonging. It fosters communication and how to better support each other through cooperative aspects and team work.
The service aspects of The Cove Program become very real for the Year 9 cohort when we go on four excursions in a year to work and connect with Warrah Farm & School in Dural, an educational facility for people living with disabilities and learning needs and a bio-dynamic farm where students get involved with both aspects through active work on the premises and the farm and by learning with and from engaging and interacting with the pupils of that school.
See you outside!