Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nature-Based Learning and Immersive History

The first sessions of workshops at the Morristown and Vanderveer sites were a success. Chris and his teaching colleagues had a lot of ground to cover, both literally (they did some hiking) and in terms of potential teaching materials. 

This week, Chris shares with us his vision for this TRT collaboration.

As an educator, principal and supervisor for over 18 years, I have always been fascinated not with the content of history, but with the varied and nuanced connections between history and other disciplines. I am drawn to the big picture study of historical events and how geography, economy, local and international politics, culture and  man's relationship and learning from nature all intertwine to form what we know as “history.”  As such, my goals of creating a Teacher Immersion experience at Morristown National Historic Park and the Jacobus Vanderveer House are directed at immersing teachers in the resources themselves while helping them make "big picture" connections between the park resource, their grade level and content area. My goal is to empower every teacher, K-12, realize they can use the cultural, historical and recreational resources of our parks and historic sites to create lessons or guide field trips utilizing these amazing resources. Additionally, as a nature based coach in training, I love the learning that arises when students and/or teachers are in the outdoors. In my workshop, I stress the habit of "sit-spotting" to help teachers reconnect with the history of our past. Sit Spotting is the act of sitting and observing in nature for at least 20 minutes per day every day.  I like to introduce teachers to this practice because so much of what our elders and ancestors of the past were able to do was possible by simply observing nature.  The concept and location of a "winter encampment" were made possible by observation.  The usage of wood for flooring and building, keeping windows on the south facing side, growing herbs for seasoning and medicinal purposes, the weaving of textiles from plants and the utilization of winter ice for summer storage and more were all made possible by the simple act of observation.  If teachers can walk away with the power the simple practice of quiet and mindful natural observation has had on history, then I will be really happy!

Thanks for sharing this insightful perspective, Chris!

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