In a recent Edutopia column, Mark Phillips writes about schools, happiness, and nature.
Sounds about right.
Phillips on Nature as a Teacher and at-risk students:
While most adolescents aren’t identified as “at-risk,” there is considerable evidence that an increasing and significant number are stressed, depressed, and/or emotionally detached. Adolescent suicide levels are much higher than they should be. Sleep deprivation is a significant problem. And more and more kids are more connected to their computers than they are to the world outside. Schools and parents would do well to consider that educational programs with a wilderness component could provide both compensation and amelioration of some of the negative effects of contemporary culture.
And on the Need for Connection:
Too often our schools have nothing to do with character or place and are part of that anonymous monotonous landscape. Too many of our children are more familiar with the mall or town square than they are with the woods that may lie only a few miles away. In my own San Francisco Bay Area, I never cease to be surprised by how many inner city kids have never been in the wilderness, though there are wilderness areas less than a half hour away. And in the heavily wooded county in which I live, few schools integrate those areas into the educational experience.
Mark Phillips is a columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and the The Answer Sheet. He volunteers with the California Film Institute’s Educational Outreach Program and serves on the Board of the Buck Institute for Education. You can find him @MarkPSF on Twitter or on Facebook