Force of Nature

28/01/2012 11:11

Outside the box, my favourite place. Whether that box be a screen, a building, a life style or an idea, that’s where I believe creativity exists. Anyone who is of the belief that play and learning cannot coexist….. read on MacDuff! 

I’m somewhat jealous reading this article as I was brought up in a strict factory type preschool that locked you in a cupboard if you drew outside the lines of the stencil …. products for Mummy and Daddy.  Ahh…those were the days.

Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above
‘A boy, just 4, leaps into a puddle. Mud splatters high across his boots and pants. The boy races from puddle to puddle, leaping, splashing and laughing. He is exultant as he discovers his own power in the mud-puddle universe. He’s also gleaning an early physics lesson: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. At a lot of nursery schools, that reaction might include chiding the child for making a mess. 

“We like to get dirty,” the boy’s teacher, Lorrie Clendenin, says, smiling. “We like to explore. The parents know that we are all coming home messy. We dig. We take hikes when it rains and snows. We’re always out.”
In the 79 years since the Outdoor Nursery School was founded, the nation has changed in ways that make the school profoundly countercultural. American children today spend dramatically less time outdoors than they did in 1933 for a host of reasons…..Television has redefined Americans of all ages as consumers of both hawked goods and time spent sitting transfixed in front of the electronic screen.

The suburbs—once marketed as bucolic and expansive escapes from the confines, ills and dangers of the city—are now developed in ways that sharply limit open land where children can play and explore.

Parents who grew up roaming freely in the neighbourhoods of their youth are often afraid to let their children do the same. Schools pressured to reduce budgets and raise test scores cut recess and physical education. Teachers assign ever more homework, effectively tethering children indoors after school.

Jane Clark, a University of Maryland professor of kinesiology, coined a phrase to describe today’s physically constricted youths: She calls them “containerized kids.”

There is a nascent movement to free containerized kids to spend more time exploring the natural world….. although nursery schools designed around teaching children outdoors are relatively rare nationwide.

Teachers at both nursery schools remark how calm their charges are after time outdoors. On the coldest, bleakest days of winter “even the 2-year-olds love to go outside,”……By the time we get back in, everybody is pretty wet. But now they happily settle down and do whatever they are going to do next. It’s calming being outside.”

Watching these preschoolers, it’s easy to believe that even in modern-day suburbia, an evolutionary memory of roaming the land is hardwired into our brains—and we deny it at our peril.’

Tess Michaels