To whom it may concern,
Anecdotally at least, it would appear, that the successive waves of Covid lockdowns, especially in the greater Auckland area, has been to awaken and affirm our human need for the natural world and yearning for the wilderness. A local intermediate school for instance, whose students can chose a “club” activity one afternoon a week, prior to Covid, would typically have student numbers, for their compost and gardening club and pest trapping club, circa 12- 20 apiece. This year more than 150 students turned up!
Schools and families find themselves at a loss as to how to respond. Many young parents have not experienced a free-range childhood, where playing in the bush, fields, and creeks, was normal and the only parental instruction was to be home by tea-time. Accordingly, immersion in nature is perceived as being both novel and fraught with risk.
School’s hobbled by pedagogical practise centred indoors, with burgeoning role numbers, perplexed by infrastructural demands, ring-fenced by health and safety fears, are at a loss to respond to this important, vital emerging need.
Unfortunately, the light shed by earlier luminaries in our collective Educational Whakapapa, such as Elwyn Richardson, on how to develop and conduct vibrant learning in and out of doors, have been eclipsed by contemporary developments in teaching practise.
So, what to do? How do we move forward and create educational opportunities which actually prepare our young people for the world they will inherit? Fortunately, there are some who have been quietly developing successful models, tried and true, which are responsive to the natural world, enhance educational outcomes and are future seeking. The Bush Farm School is one vital example. I have had the great fortune to work alongside Katie Earle during some of her weekday school programs and her after-school / holiday programs and have seen first-hand, the enrichment, good health and well-being her work makes possible.
I have been working as an artisan and educator for more than 50 years. My work involves me with learning communities from Early Childhood to Tertiary level, including special (high end) needs students and schools and homeschoolers. As a consultant, I am asked to help and advice how these learning communities can develop learning environments that are responsive to the natural world, enhance educational outcomes and are future seeking.
Where possible I recommend “living” examples and in this regard, The Bush Farm School is one such example I have no hesitation in recommending.
4th March 2021