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12/02/2010

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I was both a Montessori kid and very inclined to do this sort of romping when I was free, especially tree climbing and pretending to be a survivalist. I certainly remember the things I learned from romping better than I do the things I learned 'explicitly'(insofar as that is the point) from Montessori materials. Including such important lessons as 'knives are sharp' and 'hey look I made a thing!' and 'wow there are bugs everywhere!' But I feel like its not such a big jump to apply Montessori thinking to structuring outdoor experiences. Sensorial particularly springs to mind.

The problem of creating a 'forest' in an urban environment is an interesting one, and exactly the kind of thing I'm interested in doing for a living. I for instance, I have been fantasizing lately about planting an educational multilayered orchard with fruit cultivars and their native relatives, and shade-tolerant native understorey plants below. The possibilities are endless.

This reminds me more than anything else of a summer camp I attended for many years. I spent a lot of time digging the organic garden and taking care of llamas. (http://www.hiddenvalleycamp.com/)

The community of people running summer camps (in particular hippies running sleepaway camps off in the wood) seems much more in line with this than anything else I've run into in the US. But of course those camps really aren't something that many people have access to.

I think there's a lot be gained by integrating this with traditional school more, and to acknowledge the explicitly educational value of time spent outside. I don't know how to do the day-in, day-out aspect though. When you've been outside for a while, it's hard to switch to a much more sedentary indoor routine. Perhaps month-long units or something that doesn't require as many transitions?

I was a Montessori kid all the way up until age 14, and my school had a program with a local naturalist in which we'd go on camping trips 2-3 times a year in the North Georgia forest and he taught us woods and Native American lore. Those camping trips remain some of my fondest memories. And there were never enough.

If there were a way to integrate the two, I think it could only be good. And I don't think it's necessary to do daily work cycles in the classroom--I think every other day might be sufficient. Or you could do alternate weeks, so that the alternation is over the weekend rather than midweek.

I think it's an excellent idea, regardless, and I'm looking forward to watching the video.

Flowers portray love, happiness, joy and all the other positive emotions

Reading and watching things about "forest kindergartens" (as they are often called) is the only time I've felt my devotion to Montessori education challenged at all. But before I go into that, I need to have a bit of a squee in bullet point form about how many things I LOVE in this video. (If you don't have the time or inclination to watch the video, you can read on for the highlights.)

-The factoid that there used to be "only" a dozen of these schools in Norway, and now there are hundreds. Norway, for your reference, has a population of 4.9 million people. The greater Bay Area has a population of 7 million people. I wish there was "only" a dozen forest kindergartens here, to say nothing of hundreds!

-The children spend more time indoors when they're younger, but when they are older they spend the day outside at least three days a week. "Older" is defined as "three."

-The rest time in sleeping bags in the tipi! That was just charming.

Reading and watching things about "forest kindergartens" (as they are often called) is the only time I've felt my devotion to Montessori education challenged at all. But before I go into that, I need to have a bit of a squee in bullet point form about how many things I LOVE in this video. (If you don't have the time or inclination to watch the video, you can read on for the highlights.)

-The factoid that there used to be "only" a dozen of these schools in Norway, and now there are hundreds. Norway, for your reference, has a population of 4.9 million people. The greater Bay Area has a population of 7 million people. I wish there was "only" a dozen forest kindergartens here, to say nothing of hundreds!

-The children spend more time indoors when they're younger, but when they are older they spend the day outside at least three days a week. "Older" is defined as "three."

-The rest time in sleeping bags in the tipi! That was just charming.

I feel like its not such a big jump to apply Montessori thinking to structuring outdoor experiences.

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