For: Middle/Upper School
Pathmaps Points: Awe and Mystery, Self Knowledge/Self Worth
Summary: This activity gives students an opportunity to reflect and be by themselves in the outdoors. This activity works well with a unit on ecology or transcendentalism. It is most useful if it is done multiple times over the course of a semester rather than a one time occurrence.
Offer time during the school day for students to select and visit their own outdoor space. For some part of that time, they should try to focus more on their surroundings and less on any issues or happenings in their lives.
Develop a set of questions for them to respond to in discussion or in writing each time they visit their space:
What is most noticeable about my outdoor space today?
What is most pressing in my life today?
Is it more or less difficult today than on other days to focus on my surroundings and not on what is going on in my life?
What thoughts continue to bring me back to my life?
For homework, require students to walk outside their homes and search for a place they can sit for at least five minutes with no objective except to be there. Ask them to write down what that was like in a paragraph and bring it back to the group and debrief. What is different about being outside at school and being outside near your home? What is the same?
Continue this exercise throughout the unit or year. Allow time for students to review and reflect on the changes they have observed in their surroundings and in their own ability to sit in nature. At the end of the project ask students to read their journal and write one final reflection to turn in.