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MANN: What would an outdoor school look like?

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November 30, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


I’m reminded daily that the choices I make for my children WILL affect the rest of their lives

That can be a heavy burden to bear.

As a parent (a fairly new parent), I am always interested in exploring unique initiatives in the field of education.

After all, my children will spend 13 plus years in the school system, which is an interesting and terrifying thought.

There is an intriguing movement happening now — a push for ‘outdoor education.’

And it’s not just one community heading the movement — there are several communities in the Thompson-Okanagan involved, and members are starting conversations.

I have to admit I was excited to hear about such a movement, even though I have absolutely no idea how it would work and who would be able to partake.

But the idea of my children learning outdoors, soaking in the vitamin D and learning valuable life-saving skills is a pretty appealing thought.

On the other hand, my children may completely hate the idea.  

But…and it’s a big but…there are a number of hurdles I assume would need to be overcome before anything happens.

From what it sounds like (and this is generalizing), an outdoor school would be exactly as it sounds — a school in the outdoors.

There appears to be one running currently in Maple Ridge, B.C.

With a focus on environmental studies (I’m sure that can be interpreted a variety of ways), students would spend most of their school time outdoors, learning about identifying plants and animals, resilience and problem solving.

I assume any skills learned in a ‘standard’ school would also be included— math, spelling, etc. They would be rolled into the lessons — that is the impression I get based off the information I can find on the school in Maple Ridge.

The weather is clearly my first concern. The winters in the Thompson-Okanagan can be numbing and unpredictable. Yes, you can dress for the weather, but what happens when you are caught in a chance flurry or a student is inappropriately dressed. Will someone be trained in recognizing the signs of hypothermia, and what happens when missed days become numerous? What happens when the weather stops children from attending class?

A second concern is the incorporation of technology. Like it or not, we are a pretty technology-based society, and from what I can tell, the current education system is doing its best to keep up with new innovations, bringing those ideas and equipment into the classroom. Will students still learn how to navigate the latest and greatest? Or is the point to unplug the majority of the time?

Thirdly, who will be eligible? Will an outdoor school be a school of choice? Will it be privately run with outside fees or will it simply be an extension of the current public school system?

These are a number of questions to be answered.

Luckily I have a lot of time to research these outdoor schools, as my children are nowhere near entry age just yet. But when the time comes to make decisions about the beginnings of the rest of their lives, I want to be sure I make an informed choice.

I want to be sure I make the right choice.

— Becky Mann is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking. She knows there is so much more to come and is looking forward to the continued adventure.


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