Kids swap desks for dirt in their quest for learning
By JAMIE BROWN
AS HARD as it is to believe, the small but proud Teven-Tintenbar Public School is leading the world in outdoor environmental education, according to Canadian academic Dr Janet McVittie.
The visiting educator was encouraged to pay the leading public school a visit, after it was praised by Southern Cross University's Professor Keith Scamp.
Australia is a leader in the arena of outdoor education and environment education,? she said. And Teven-Tintenbar Public School has been a leader in this area for years.
Dr McVittie said teachers who took their students out of the classroom found a different set of challenges. Students who struggled to concentrate indoors often flourished outside, able to concentrate, while sometimes those who flourished indoors struggled under the trees.
One school she studied in her native Saskatchewan actively promoted education outside the classroom, with amazing results when you break down the barriers.
School stalwart and teacher, Bert Berghuis, who planted most of the trees in the schoolyard after it was opened in 1988, said the school's miniature rice paddy was a good example of how outdoor learning gave students a window into other cultures.
The growing of rice is like a keyhole into Asian culture, he said.
As well, his students learn maths and plant biology and surveying techniques along with the practical aspects of growing their own food.
When we are holding classrooms outdoors, the children don?t even know they are learning, he said.
It's like Confucius once said: Tell me and I?ll forget, involve me and I?ll remember.
I find that the best classroom is outside and here even the most distracted child will find things to do, whether that is counting tadpoles in the rice paddy or preparing ground for planting.