Full Fat Forest School, Sir?
Today, I want to share with you a super cool analogy about Forest School that was first put out there by Dr Mel McCree an academic based at Bath Spa University.
Truthfully I’m trying to get on the show.
So if you’re listening Mel give me a call I’d love the chance to speak with you about your work and all things forest school.
It would be a big honour.
Now what Dr McCree refers to in a few pieces of here work are the versions of Forest School that are present in the UK.
You would have thought there was only one, right?
The sad fact is that because the movement has developed from the ground up type of approach, people have interpreted it in any way they wish.
Which is great to have creativity, diversity and uniqueness.
But when you’re trying to communicate ONE vision with the public, so they can see the phenomenal benefit of Forest School it becomes as much use as a chocolate teapot.
People may have pre-conceived notions of what Forest School is that may not entirely be what Forest School is, based on there last experience by a Leader that was really, in the nicest possible way, ripping off the Forest School ethos.
As I’ve mentioned a number of times the formation of the Forest School Association has done much to solidify the forest school ethos in peoples minds but it was only formed in 2012 which led it to have somewhat of an up hill struggle.
Combine this with the commoditized world we live in and how some have cut and diced Forest School to fit their vision, has really stuffed it like a Christmas turkey.
That’s why I’m here , I suppose, trying to break down the Forest School movement to the smallest decimal and build the right picture in your minds in a really simple an accessible way, so that Forest School gets the recognition it truly deserves.
So what is this analogy Dr Mccree speaks of.
Full Fat, Diet and Forest School Lite.
How cool right! I know what you’re thinking!
Yes Mark, but what does that get at?
Let’s take a look at each to understand what is meant by each term.
I’d encourage you to think of the forest school you attend or are thinking about and which do they fit into?
Remember Forest School isn’t weight watchers. Full fat is the future!
Full Fat Forest School
Here the Forest School principles and ethos I mentioned in another episode are followed to the letter by the Forest School leader.
By this I mean It takes place in a natural wooded environment, there is a relationship with the natural world, holistic development is promoted throughout, supported risks to and all learning is done through learner-centred play processes.
In this manner, Forest School over long term repeated exposure, has the very real prospect of being a transformative tool for the development of a child as they are able to harness all the immense benefits Forest School offers.
Diet Forest School
Here practice is compromised, somewhat tokenistic and isolated.
simply a one off session. This is perhaps most like outdoor learning.
In a diet forest school the length of the programme, choice, biodiversity, risk and play is also compromised for other more structured activities or ‘we have to get through everyone’ type approach.
Forest School Lite
Here is possibly the version so far removed from what Forest School is about as it is rinsed of original meaning and potency with the Forest School benefits being impossible to reach.
‘Leaders’ hold little or no training and consider Forest School as a buzzword to drive marketing or popularity.
This form of Forest School is severely limited in length, choice, biodiversity, risk, and opportunities for play.. actually what play?
Overiding preferences for structured, managed activities are common place here.
Really, nobody should be on a diet where Forest School is concerned!
I’d encourage you to think carefully before committing to a Forest School diet if you want the full host of benefits.
You’re Just One Session Away.