“We are not made to sit at a desk…”

Continuing our series of essays by Vermont children, the following will be of interest to educators!

Edge Academy student Seamus Sullivan, 13, writes about learning outdoors versus indoors.

“The thing about learning from a book is that you never experience what you’re learning, you are only reading. If you are outside then you see, hear, smell, touch, and hopefully not taste everything around you. Being outside uses multiple senses, causing you to learn more and remember it. We are not made to sit at a desk and stare at a book all day, we were made to learn by experience, not programming, that is why you learn so much more out side.

I think being mother nature’s child means that you learn from nature then when you grow up you help preserve her. By learning about nature you realize just how precious it is and how much we need it. You also notice just how advanced nature is, from the homes to the animals that build them there are so many marvels of construction. Being Mother Nature’s child means learning about nature and appreciating its wonders.

In nature there are so many opportunities to learn. You can witness an ecosystem and see it live right in front of you, or see symbiosis in action, or even part of the food chain. In nature you don’t have to ask to see it, or turn to page 40 to read about fungi, or even a textbook, its all right in front of you, happening even as we speak and that is why learning in nature is so much better.”

Classmate Brittany Gratton,14, writes: The outdoors is more interesting than the indoors. There’s more that you can learn like about trees, birds, water…. And it’s much more fun than just reading it in books and being inside. I like going to a tree to sit at and read. It really helps with my concentration. The outdoors is also a good way to get energy out.”

Anna Tracey from The Promfret School is also interested in learning outdoors. Here is her essay in its entirety:

“The hot sun beats down upon a girl’s back[as] she is hunched over her journal writing what she’s observed about what is around her. She has filled the page with notes, pictures, and poem\s. Not far just a couple miles away is a different school. In the class rooms the drapes are drawn and all the children are reading from text books. Most of the students are scanning the pages not taking in any information just trying to finish the chapter.

Many kids go to school without setting foot outdoors. Being outdoors is very important for a kid’s education because in order to learn you can’t just read and write papers, you need to find things out yourself. Without experience kids soon lose interest in the subject without experiencing it properly. If all you do is read textbooks you will get bored and start and stop paying attention, then you will learn nothing.

If you spend all your time indoors you will observe but you won’t make a connection and understand what you are observing. Like if you see a bird eating a berry you won’t make the connection that the bird is doing a favor for the seeds by spreading the seeds. Just because being outdoors is important doesn’t mean that we should spend our entire school time outdoors.

In order to learn properly you must have the perfect balance of indoors and outdoors.”

Morgan Hartman of The Pomfret School continues this theme:

“Being outdoors is different than being indoors because of your learning experience. In nature you have hands on learning compared to learning indoors.

Your head, stuck in a text book, sitting at your desk. No windows to look out of. “Lunchtime!” After eating you go back to your plain old worksheets and books as your teacher sits at his desk reading a magazine. “RINGGG!” The bell goes off and school is over. Your parents pick you up to go back to video games and TV and more homework. Is this how you want to live? Will the world lose a connection with mother nature itself? We should not!

Other than learning from books and worksheets about the outdoors, go outside! In books you cannot experience nature, They also can’t each you the importance of nature. In books you can’t feel the warm summer breeze, you can’t see the glistening flow of the rivers or the beautiful blue sky and the blazing sun. Although books can teach you math, history or social studies they cannot teach you the importance of nature.

Nature can teach you things that books cannot. A few month ago my class went outside to our own “Power Spots”. “Power Spots” are spots along the river in the back of our school. Every kid has one and they are separated apart from each other. We go there usually about 3 times a week at the least. One day we ventured to our power spots and we took our journals with us. We wrote down some things that nature has to teach us. I remember writing: Leaves teach me to go my own way. I took this from when the leaves swerve violently through the water. If rocks come up they will turn away with the rapid, away.

Being outside is much different from being inside because of your learning experience. Outside you have more hands-on work. It also opens your senses.”

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