Day 60 / 61 – Student’s thoughts…


Students at Oxford School

Between 2 visits to schools today, I squeezed in a massage for my legs which was generously paid for by some parents of the school we’re visiting Monday – Armbrae Academy.  Nathan, my massage therapist, began talking about energy in the body and the energy surrounding our bodies.  And as the conversation progressed, I realized that after each visit to a school this week, I walked out the front door feeling energized.  As Nathan put it, “Those students were transferring all their energy to you to keep you going”!  And it’s hard to disagree… it’s been an amazing week of chatting and interacting with students.

On Wednesday, Sarah and I had the chance to chat with students at Eastern College who were taking the Health, Wellness and Recreation program.  It was an opportunity to engage in a little more dialogue and hear their perspective on some of the issue surrounding this issue.  One student was frustrated that so much focus is put on research and statistics surrounding this issue, not because it’s not relevant, but frustrated because we shouldn’t have to prove that being outside and active is a good thing.  It’s just common sense!

We visited Westmount Elementary yesterday morning and Oxford School in the afternoon as well as Brookhouse Elementary and Southdale grade 5/6’s this afternoon.  There are so many stories we could share and so many insightful thoughts from students that make us smile, but I’ll just share one last one for today.

We try to convey the number of hours teenagers spend in front of screen, which is roughly 6 hours a day.  But today when there was question time, a grade 6 student remarked, “Well, we’re in school for 6 hours a day.  Why can’t our teachers take us outside to learn?”  And it was an earnest question on his part – he wasn’t trying to be cheeky.  The same question was posed yesterday when I did an interview on CBC Radio and it’s tough to answer without feeling like I’m going to offend someone, particularly the teachers that are sitting and listening at the back of the classroom.  Teachers are inundated with demands.  Aside from having to meet curriculum standards, they are bombarded with having to do this, or needing to do that.  You ask any classroom teacher and you’ll likely get an earful as to the demands they have placed on them.  Now this isn’t to let them off the hook completely.  Could teachers be taking their students outside a bit more to learn?  Sure.  But pointing the finger at teachers isn’t the answer to having students learn outside.  The problem lies with an education system that sees a desk and four walls as an effective learning environment.  Add to the issue perceived risks that have forced school boards to implement so much red tape that it’s difficult for a teacher to take their students to a wooded area 100 metres down the road from the school.  “It’s not on school property!”


Brookhouse Elementary uses pedometres to measure activity and track how far across Canada they’re going!

Hopefully in time, the decision-makers within the education system can be more open to change.  And yes, this includes parents!  Change is tough… but when you see all the benefits of students being outside, including increased academic performance, improved language skills, more creativity, improved self-confidence… how can you not see an outdoor learning environment as an effective way to teach students?

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