In the nature of things

Wolseley School students are leaving their traditional classrooms behind for two weeks to study in the great outdoors


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On June 5, Wolseley School students gathered up their books and school supplies and walked out... with their teachers’ blessings.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/06/2017 (2110 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On June 5, Wolseley School students gathered up their books and school supplies and walked out… with their teachers’ blessings.

It was the start of a two-week project that involved turning the great outdoors into a classroom setting for the nursery to Grade 6 school. Principal Suzanne Mole explains how the idea came together.

Why would an entire school leave the creature comforts of the indoors and move all 171 students out onto the steamy schoolyard?

Because it’s amazing!

The seeds of this adventure have been germinating for a while. Many of us had heard of the term “nature deficit disorder,” which Richard Louv described in his book Last Child in the Woods.

We had listened to David Suzuki and other experts who inspired us to embed a love and respect for the environment into everything we teach. We had been inspired by schools across the globe and in our own city that took on this challenge and spoke with passion about the change they saw in the students as they reconnected to nature.

“We can do this…” we thought.

“We should do this…”

“We are DOING THIS… and it will be amazing!”

And so, on June 5, with tarps, water bottles, sunscreen and library books packed into our classroom wagons, every child in Wolseley School headed outside to school for the day. Each morning, the entire school meets in the centre of the schoolyard for the singing of O Canada and for announcements — including a seven-year-old’s reminder to “wear sunscreen and have fun!”

The days are a mix of academics, such as math and reading in the setting of an outdoor classroom, and discovery centres, such as clay, music making and orienteering. Classes will also take advantage of the school’s proximity to Omand’s Creek and the Assiniboine River for nature walks and bird watching.

The students will also have some historical “treasure hunts” as they take walking tours of the Wolseley community. They’ll learn where the Wolseley Elm once stood and where the Happyland carnival was once located.

There will be so much to learn and see and do in two weeks, it will be hard to go back inside.

Two weeks is just the beginning. It is Wolseley School’s desire to awaken a connection within our students to nature around them, because, as Louv wrote, “we cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. Or hear. Or sense.”

Ruth Bonneville

Ruth Bonneville

As the first female photographer hired by the Winnipeg Free Press, Ruth has been an inspiration and a mentor to other women in the male-dominated field of photojournalism for over two decades.

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