Showing posts from April, 2018

Supporting Nature in Schools, Part 2

When I first signed up to visit Villa Elba Youth Center and Nature School, I was under the impression that this was a school that incorporated outdoor education as a part of their theme. However, the nature school network operates outside of the traditional school system but in support of it. Nature education is expressly addressed in the National Core Curriculum.
For example, at age 7-16 the goal is “…to raise environmentally conscious citizens who are committed to a sustainable way of life. The schools must teach future-oriented thinking and building the future on ecologically, economically, socially, and culturally sustainable premises.” (NCC, 2004, 39)
For older students, the theme is Sustainable Development. Students are encouraged to pursue a sustainable lifestyle, to take action for sustainable development, and to examine the challenges of SD (NCC, 2003, 28–29).
There are several major nature schools in Finland and it is customary for many students, to attend Camp School, whic…

Supporting Nature in Schools, Part 1

One of the goals of my Fulbright project was not only to examine how Finnish schools incorporate break time into their schedules, but how much of that time is spent outdoors.

How do kids know what to do outdoors?

Do the teachers follow them around?

Do kids have to be strictly supervised?

Is there a difference between the activities of boys vs. girls?

To that end, my goal here in Finland has been not only to observe schools, but also nature organizations that might support outdoor learning and experiences.

I hit the lottery with the help of nature school teacher Maria Svens, who I reached out to before I even arrived in the country. Her article about the Finnish Outdoor Classroom gave me an overview of how organizations can support schools in teaching students about nature. Maria then connected me with Sara Kall from the Villa Elba Youth Center in Kokkola, Finland where I was fortunate to be able to spend two days shadowing this incredible nature school teacher.

The enthusiasm with wh…