Post by Steve Cook, teacher of the rising 2nd grade class, Golden Bridges
Nature has been an important part of my life as far back as I can remember.
I have photographs of me tasting dirt on a camping trip with my family when I was two.
I was raised in a rural neighborhood with chickens, ducks, turkeys, and lambs. My father had a large garden. My mother drew on the harvest of this garden to prepare our meals. Each season, I anticipated traditional fishing and hunting trips. My friends and I went backpacking with our scout troops, exploring the nearby foothills in winter and summer.
My memories in nature touched me on the deepest levels of both fear and joy.
These experiences were the beginning of a deep appreciation and respect for the natural environment that continues for me to this day.
Passing on the ancient wisdom of nature takes time and years of nurturing. One doesn’t become a naturalist through a single hike. To reconnect with nature is a lifelong process, and this reconnection brings us back to our deepest roots.
As I have now reached a mature age, I have more than an appreciation of nature. I also have a feeling for the the deeper significance that nature plays in human development.
Our eyes developed to meet and experience the sunlit outdoors. Our ears developed to take in the natural sounds and voices that surrounded us. We learned to breathe because we were born into a world of oxygen.
We have evolved together with this natural world for millions of years. It may be that our true self-image, will, creativity, and well-being depend on whether we make an authentic connection with it.
However, I fear that as a culture, our ancient connections with nature are deteriorating as we rely increasingly on bureaucratic and technological habitats for our needs.
What will be the toll on human development when humanity’s habitat becomes entirely fabricated?
Of course there are limitations to finding conclusive answers to this question through quantitative data. Nevertheless, scientific studies show strong correlations between overall human health and time spent in nature.
Facing this growing evidence, even mainstream educators and psychologists are now beginning to recognize that their most suitable therapies could spring from the natural world itself.
As a teacher I have finally found a school that takes this part of the child seriously.
Golden Bridges is committed to bringing nature as a priority within its curriculum.
Because of this, the children will have a reservoir of authentic memories to draw from when more abstract scientific concepts are introduced. They are developing all of their senses, from their sense of life to their sense of identity, in ways that would not be possible in a fabricated environment such as an indoor classroom.
Thank you Golden Bridges!
A note re enrollment: While our early childhood programs are full enrolled for the 2017 - 1018 school year, we have some availability in our grades program, serving grades 1, 2 and 3. If you're interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Steve Cook teaches the rising 2nd grade at Golden Bridges School. Steve is an experienced elementary school teacher. He has taught 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades. Steve didn’t discover Rudolph Steiner until after 13 years of teaching in traditional public schools and had a MA in Educational Leadership. During that time he was trained to use both direct and indirect inquiry based instructional strategies based upon Madeline Hunter’s model for instruction and Bloom’s Taxonomy. When he discovered Steiner’s philosophies they rang true to what he felt was the function of modern education: the development of individuals as free human beings. He taught 4th and 5th grade at an Arizona Waldorf School and recently finished teaching a 1st and 2nd grade at a Colorado Waldorf School. He has a passion for story telling, the natural sciences, and ancient cultures. He has also won awards for his clogging, loves to land a fish on a fly rod, sit around campfires telling stories, collecting fossils, and hiking over the mountains. You might also see him riding his motorcycle from time to time.