page title icon the long game

Does Learning Last?

Research is telling us that time in nature is not leisure; it is an essential component for human growth.

As part of the resident team at Camas Outdoor Activity Centre, I’m soon to begin a weeks tour tof the various home bases of the different youth groups that we have hosted over the season.

My primary intention is to deepen relationships and to check out the Plan de Vida with Galgael. We’re gonna visit a bike pizza delivery scheme baked from a wood-fired urban oven, stay up till 4am on an ‘midnight & beyond’ initiative, hopefully guest a community radio station run by youth on their housing scheme; as well as lots of other connective routines; like drinking tea and reminiscing about shared experiences this summer past.

There is also a part of me that is really attentive to whether the learning experiences they have had on mull; can be integrated back to their home environments. My ‘long game’ is about how, if at all, can we measure ‘growth’?I mentioned in a previous article about the 8 indicators of awareness and the seven sacred attributes. My question is, what are the quantifiable metrics that we can establish to both measure their emergence following access to outdoor programs?

Surely there must be some tangible expressions that we could measure across time to show the efficacy of nature based free play and the core routines of nature connection to establish whole human beings? Ideas; anyone?

Ultimately, if we are ensure outdoor education gets the scaling it needs to reach the whole population then i feel that establishing some unity around metrics is a central task.

For example, could the amount of time spent in nature in an unstructured before and after outdoor programmes be a metric? By which I mean away from the computer, from organized sports, school or societies; with or without peers & family?

Tear down the wall.

There is also the fact that the built environment is increasingly putting up physical as well as cultural barriers to free play. I feel it is important that not to solely associate ‘nature connection’ to our national parks; themselves stuck in an 18th century sheep obsessed, subsidy fest, cultural aspic; that lends itself to land rovers driving no further than the gore-tex shops.Gentrification should be resisted and green spaces defended on behalf of our kids, as Richard Mabey notes:

It is often our industrial ‘edgelands’ that have a larger array of biodiversity.

Richard Louv notes in his book that, after a nine year study of wilderness programs, James Kaplan conceived his idea of the ‘restorative environment’; he outlines that in unstructured, spontaneous experience in the outdoors lies the optimal way to train coordination and concentration. He went on to prove that:

“Directed attention fatigue,” (is) marked by impulsive behavior, agitation, irritation, and inability to concentrate… If you can find an environment where attention is automatic, you allow directed attention to rest. And that means an environment that’s strong on fascination”. 1

In his summary of Kaplans research, Richard Louv goes as far as to say that:

“the fascination factor is restorative, and it helps relieve people from direction-attention fatigue. “ 2

This is believe, is why it is so fundamental for people to develop core routines of connecting to Nature; wherever they are.

‘Attention automatic, in flow; this routine helps protect your dome….’

Research is telling us that time in nature is not leisure; it is an essential component for human growth.


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