As part of the Holistic Teaching and Learning course I am taking we visited the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest in Maple Ridge. This week our focus was Place-Based Learning so we met with our former classmate, Randy, who works at the Maple Ridge Environmental School. The Research Forest is one of the learning environments the school uses.
We began our visit with about 10 minutes to find a spot in the forest alone. I spent the time looking at my surroundings and trying to bring my thoughts back to the nature around me when my mind started to drift. I also paid attention to the sounds that I could hear nearby and in the distance. I took a few pictures from the spot I chose.
We then gathered as a group and Randy asked us if there were any questions we had about what we noticed. From there we headed off on a short walk to a pond. We saw two deer on the way! I wish I had been able to get a picture. When we arrived at the pond Randy gave us an opportunity to be learners with a couple activities students at the school have done. We looked at a living organism from the pond and tried to identify it. We were also encouraged to collect our own samples of water and to see what living organisms we could see. It was neat to experience this as an adult. I enjoyed seeing how groups of us worked together and what questions were sparked.
We chatted in small groups about the idea of Environmental Education. We considered possibilities in our own classrooms and any challenges we thought would arise and any questions we had. Afterwards we had an opportunity to ask Randy any questions. My question was related to writing – “What if a student wants to write a story about a princess in a castle for example? Would she be allowed to do this?” Basically it sounded like the student would be encouraged to somehow make the environment, in this case the forest, part of the story somehow.
Before we walked back to the parking lot I snapped a few pictures of the pond area.