Briony Davies for: Council for Learning Outside the Classroom 21 Nov. 2017
Are we just beginning to realise the importance of Nature as a teacher? How far have we progressed? So can we use nature as a learning tool to improving health and wellbeing without resorting to drugs?
In 2011 academics were claiming that the “erosion of childhood . . . . has continued apace since 2006” and that Britain has the lowest levels of children’s wellbeing in the developed world”.*
Its 2017 and newspaper reports about children’s mental health are increasing; could more be done to help teachers gain confidence in teaching in the natural world that has proved time and again to be beneficial to all who take advantage of this free asset. Time is running out.
Can we use the instructive study of the lifestyle of bees who,
like us are reliant on plants for survival: for foraging; house building; nest building and everything they do is for the ‘wellbeing’ of the entire hive, they are masters of their universe.
Although they have a comparatively short lifespan they are totally engrossed in communal living in a confined space. They instinctively understand the necessity for managing the temperature in the hive and also the need for additional micro nutrients (which reminds me of the elephants who led their herd to find special herbs in remote, rocky places) from vegetative moisture spots.
Beyond the hive they search far and wide for the ‘nectar of the gods’ and pollen to feed to their young. They are totally vegetarian and the females are the workers looking after the young, while males are completely sex obsessed and entirely reliant on the wider world to supply their needs. Who controls that world? Us – we are the most destructive creatures on earth.
Could helping bees become an integrated way of helping ourselves? We have the same needs and suffer from the same privations; anything that affects them probably affects us too.
Primary schools can keep bees. The children also learn business acumen by selling the honey; bees can inspire gardening and botany, subjects which generally come bottom of the curriculum scale. In war time Britain they were high on the list of activities because we were under threat – not from aliens but from ourselves, human beings no less.
These important lessons can be learned up to the age of nine or ten; after that they will act as a foundation educational tool for teenage studies of many kinds. It does not stop there, it will be knowledge gained for a lifetime – to be an inspiration for ever.
* Daily Telegraph: Graeme Paton, Education Editor, 24 Sept. 2011
Seeds of Green is a basic guide for teachers and others to enable lessons based on ecosystems to be enlivened.
The school grounds should be seen as a huge asset worth of serious investment for future generations.
“What you do [as landscapers] is not about strategies or master plans – it is about paradise lost and won and its about mystery. If you can’t dream in it … or make love in it, you might as well Tarmac it.”
Tim Smit, Eden Project – Horticulture Week 25 Nov 2011