What makes Forest school different to any other outdoor practice?
When I tell people I work with schools in woodland they usually instantly reply, "Oh, do you mean bushcraft? (or survival skills? or green woodwork?)" This is a response that comes from an automatic assumption. Forest School will offer all these learning opportunities, as well as environmental art, music, all the national curriculum subjects, and much more.
But what makes it so different is that it focuses on the child - where the child is coming from and where he/she is trying to go. It focuses on finding out about the childs innate way of interacting with the world and meeting it, rather than the usual "one size fits all" approach. All other practices have the capacity to do this but the difference is that Forest School does it so consciously.
Practitioners are trained to understand the most recent research and development in the method and practice of teaching so that they obtain the tools to see the learning process and the patterns of their charges, in this way enhancing the childs opportunities to learn more effectively, both in the woods and, with good communication skills, in the schools too.
Why does Forest School do this job so effectively? It is all about the woodland environment, combined with the understanding and vision of a good practitioner and immersion in that environment over a long term programme.
Why is the woodland locality as effective as it is? It comes down to the enormous diversity of natural materials (different shapes and sizes easily to hand), the nurturing ambience found beneath a canopy of trees, and a context which requires solutions that work rather than theories that have no grounding in actual experience. It is that actual experience that is the key to learning which sticks and stays, rather than that lost with time.
There are so many factors that contribute to learning here in the woods, from the communication and social skills developed through working together on real projects, to the sense of individual pride, and self esteem, experienced after making a shelter that keeps its occupants warm and dry in the pouring rain.
But these examples are a scratch on the surface of what is a huge leafy world of discovery. One that can enhance the all round development and well being of those lucky enough to participate.
For a more comprehensive exchange about the Forest school ethos and the potential it can offer please feel free to call Patrick on 07939004971 to find out much more.