Sunday, 22 September 2013

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

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

Love Sobel.  Full article can be read from the link above. 

A comprehensive report of outdoor activity released this year by the Outdoor Foundation says that only 38 percent of participants ages 6-12, and 26 percent of kids ages 13-17 reported doing things outside like running, hiking, and biking. “Although participation rates were stable for younger participants from 2011 to 2012,” the report states, “the rates are still significantly lower than they were in 2006.”

.....Sobel recommends in his book Beyond Ecophobia that instead of learning about the devastation happening in the rainforest, young children (under fourth grade) should first learn about “even just the meadow outside their classroom door.” ... Sobel has observed that the time to engage kids in social action begins sometime around age 12. Before that, children should be allowed to experience nature for themselves and see the beauty and possibility.

He writes, “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.”

Look, Ma – no laptop: kids click with nature - Environmental News | The Irish Times - Sat, Aug 10, 2013

Look, Ma – no laptop: kids click with nature - Environmental News | The Irish Times - Sat, Aug 10, 2013

A great fresh perspective on children and nature"  Full article can be read from the link above. 

"This mass culture of boredom is a recent development. For millennia, most young humans never had time to be bored. Life was a constant battle for basic survival, often involving child labour and great hardship. Even today, far too many children still inhabit that grim world.....landscapes, the cycles of seasonal vegetation and migrations – remains almost invisible to many of us."

"Put children on a football pitch and they will probably wait to play until someone explains the rules, or at least gives them a ball. But put the same children in a meadow, on a rocky shore or in a wood and they will very soon be inventing games for themselves.....The pleasures of that kind of broad interaction with nature will be more deeply anchored if children develop just a little bioliteracy through field trips with teachers or local nature groups"

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Berkeley Adventure Playground

I was recently reading a great piece in the the American Landscape Architecture magazine about the Berkeley Adventure Playground. It operates in the style of those adventure playgrounds that were quite common in Europe after the war, but now have been dumbed down because of the ever present spectre of potential liability or eradicated completely as inner city real estate prices boomed.

The City of Berkleys' website indicates that, 'The Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina was opened in 1979. It is a wonderfully unique outdoor facility where staff encourage children to play and build creatively. Come climb on the many unusual kid designed and built forts, boats, and towers. Ride the zip line or hammer, saw, and paint. By providing these low risk activities Adventure Playground creates opportunities for children to learn cooperation, meet physical challenges and gain self confidence. Pictures of a fort building project. The concept for Adventure Playgrounds originated in Europe after World War II, where a playground designer studied children playing in the "normal" asphalt and cement playgrounds. He found that they preferred playing in dirt and lumber from the post war rubble. He realized that children had the most fun designing and building their own equipment and manipulating their environment. The formula for Adventure Playgrounds includes Earth, fire, water, and lots of creative materials.'

The playground has strict codes for childrens' participation and play as well readily defining the adults role as play facilitators, something that is more often not the case at other similar playspaces.  The website is a great source of information about other US adventure playgrounds and even contains a link to an American National Public Radio show featuring sound-bites taken from a report.

I'm not even going to discuss the possibility of Australia embracing this type of playspace, way to many naysayers, helicopter government bodies and rabid insurance companies for it to be anything other than an idea.