I loved it. 25 degrees--snow-covered trails, steel gray Indiana sky. Usually few people travel the trails of Fort Harrison State Park on such a day. But, as I parked, I saw a couple of yellow school busses. Traveling down the trail I heard talking--young teens--not yelling and laughing--but talking and listening. I approached and saw they huddled, looking, listening to a teacher. As I walked by I heard her say, "If you close you mouth and open your ears, you can hear the water in the stream."
Further down the path I saw another gaggle of middle-schoolers, their teacher telling them about the deer tracks, the clumps of leaves lying on top of the snow where animals were looking for food. The apologized for filling the trail.
But, I loved it!
For here were school rooms learning "out of the box". They were not reading. They were freezing and smelling and feeling that which they were learning. Some even seemed intrigued by what they were hearing and seeing.
I loved it not only because they students were leanring where life was lived, but they were in the wildest part of nature that you can find inside a modern city. They are dealing with what Richard Louv called "nature deficit disorder". In his book "Last Child in the Woods" he warns that children's fear of nature and their lack of exposure to the rural and wilderness parts of their landscape is leading to all kinds of personal and emotional disorders. Whether this is true or not, I know nature to be a wonderful teacher of patience and flexibility. I know it to be a place where, when we slow down and listen and experience, we discover ourselves part of an amazing system of life, energy, tension, death, birth, love and delight.
I loved it--kids out of the bos--learnig and laughing, tasting and seeing.