Transcript: The Rise of Forest Schools | May 21, 2018

Jeyan Jeganathan stands in the set of "The Agenda."

Jeyan is in his thirties, with short curly brown hair and a stubble. He wears a gray suit and a white and blue gingham shirt.

On a screen behind him, a picture of a forest appears with a caption that reads "Learning in the great outdoors."

Jeyan says FOREST SCHOOLS STARTED IN
DENMARK IN THE 1950'S AND
THEY'VE BECOME POPULAR HERE IN
CANADA.
WITH THE FOREST AS THEIR
BACKDROP, CHILDREN ARE
ENCOURAGED TO TAKE RISKS, ALL
WHILE LEARNING THE SAME THINGS
THEY WOULD IN A TRADITIONAL
CLASSROOM.
I TRAVELLED TO OTTAWA'S FOREST
AND NATURE SCHOOL TO LEARN ABOUT
THE BENEFITS OF BEING OUTDOORS.

A slate appears with the caption "Ontario Hubs."

A woman holds a child and says ARE YOU STUCK?

The little boy says YEAH.
MY LEGS ARE TURNED.

The woman says OKAY, THERE YOU GO.

Jeyan says WELCOME TO OTTAWA
FOREST AND NATURE SCHOOL.
UNLIKE MOST CLASSROOMS IN
ONTARIO, THIS ONE TAKES PLACE
IN-- YOU GUESSED IT-- A FOREST.

A caption reads "Marlene Power. Child and Nature Alliance of Canada."

Marlene is in her thirties, with shoulder length wavy blond hair and wears glasses, a gray and blue T-shirt and a blue hooded sweatshirt.

She says THEY PLAY, THEY EXPLORE, THEY
START SEEING THINGS THAT PIQUE
THEIR INTEREST.
WE HAVE OWLS ONSITE AND DEER AND
TRACKS, AND SO THEY BEGIN TO SEE
THINGS THAT PIQUE THEIR
CURIOSITY AND THAT ENGAGE THEM.

Jeyan says ON A WET SPRING DAY LIKE
TODAY, STUDENTS ARE COVERED IN
WATERPROOF GEAR, RUBBER BOOTS
AND INSULATED CLOTHING, READY
FOR A DAY OF EXPLORATION.
AT FOREST SCHOOLS LIKE THIS,
IT'S STUDENTS, NOT TEACHERS,
THAT MAKE THE LESSON PLANS.

The caption changes to "Petra Eperjesi. Child and Nature Alliance of Canada."

Petra is in her thirties, with straight brown hair in a bob cut and wears glasses, jeans and a black puff jacket.

She says WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE KIDS
LIVES ARE REALLY PROGRAMMED AND
ALSO REALLY HEAVILY SURVEILLED
OR SUPPORTED BY ADULTS.
WHETHER IT'S AT SWIMMING
LESSONS, OR AT SOCCER PRACTICE,
OR AT HOMEWORK TUTORING, AND YOU
KNOW ALL THE BELLS AT SCHOOL, WE
LIVE IN A REALLY REGIMENTED
WORLD.
AND SO, AT FOREST SCHOOL, WE TRY
TO CREATE A TIME AND SPACE WHERE
KIDS CAN KIND OF EXHALE A LITTLE
BIT AND ACTUALLY DISCOVER, LIKE,
"OH, I HAVE INTERESTS."

Jeyan says AND THOSE INTERESTS CAN
CHANGE QUITE QUICKLY.

Petra says BUT SOMETIMES, WE'LL GET
DISTRACTED ON THE WAY THERE BY A
POND OR A TREE THAT'S NEWLY
FALLEN THAT WE NEED TO CLIMB ON.
THIS TIME OF YEAR, THEY'RE
STARTING TO FIND FROGS AND TOADS
AND SALAMANDERS AND ALSO THEIR
EGGS IN THE POND.

Jeyan says THEY GET DIRTY, ASK
QUESTIONS, FIND ANSWERS, AND
SOMETIMES TAKE A TUMBLE.
BUT EACH ADVENTURE LEADS TO A
NEW DISCOVERY.

A little girl grabs a bug and says LOOK AT THIS GUY.

Marlene says LOOK AT THIS GUY.

Marlene says A PEACOCK FEATHER FELL DOWN
FROM THE SKY AND FELL ON HER
HEAD.
AND SHE RAN TO THE EDUCATOR AND
SHE'S LIKE, "A PEACOCK FEATHER
JUST FELL FROM THE SKY ON MY
HEAD."
AND HER AND THE EDUCATOR, YOU
KNOW, WERE LIKE, "HOW IS THAT
POSSIBLE?
LIKE, PEACOCKS DON'T EVEN LIVE
IN CANADA.
LIKE, HOW DID A PEACOCK FEATHER
FALL FROM THE SKY?"
SO, THAT ENDED UP FUELLING,
LIKE, A TWO WEEK INQUIRY ON
PEACOCKS.
LIKE, WHERE DO PEACOCKS LIVE AND
WHAT DO PEACOCKS EAT AND WHERE
DO THEY HAVE NESTS?

Jeyan says THE CHILD AND NATURE ALLIANCE
OF CANADA IS AN OTTAWA-BASED
NOT-FOR-PROFIT THAT PROMOTES
FOREST EDUCATION IN CANADA.
THERE ARE ROUGHLY 45 FULL-TIME
AND PART-TIME NATURE SCHOOLS
ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WITH
BRITISH COLUMBIA AND ONTARIO
HAVING THE HIGHEST
CONCENTRATIONS.

Marlene says THIS IS NOT A NEW MODEL OF
EDUCATION, AND ARGUABLY
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN CANADA HAVE
BEEN LEARNING AND LIVING OFF THE
LAND FOR MILLENNIA.
SO, WE WANT TO, EVEN THOUGH
FOREST SCHOOL, AS A TERM, IS
ATTRIBUTED TO SCANDINAVIAN
COUNTRIES AND PARTS OF EUROPE,
THIS IS NOT NEW TO CANADA.

Jeyan says THE CHILD AND NATURE ALLIANCE
OF CANADA HAS SEEN THE INTEREST
GROW SIGNIFICANTLY OVER THE
LAST FIVE YEARS.
WHAT STARTED OFF WITH ONLY A
HANDFUL OF STUDENTS HAS NOW
BLOSSOMED INTO OVER 1000.
STUDENTS SPEND THE MAJORITY OF
THEIR DAYS OUTDOORS, EXPLORING
AND PLAYING, RAIN OR SHINE AND
EVEN THROUGH THE WINTER MONTHS.

A woman holds a child’s hand as he walks on a log and says HERE, SHALL I LET GO?

Marlene says CHILDREN HAVE NOT CHANGED,
BUT EVERYTHING AROUND THEM HAS.
WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY BECOME MORE
OF AN INDOOR BASED CULTURE.
AND SOME PEOPLE ATTRIBUTE THAT
TO TECHNOLOGY, SOME PEOPLE
ATTRIBUTE THAT TO, YOU KNOW,
MORE PRESSURE WITHIN EDUCATION
TO, LIKE, ASSESSMENT AND
STANDARDIZED TESTING.

Jeyan says STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THE
BENEFITS OF NATURE-BASED
LEARNING, THE OBVIOUS ONE BEING
THE PHYSICAL HEALTH, BUT ALSO
IMPROVEMENTS IN SOCIAL SKILLS,
CREATIVITY, COGNITIVE
ABILITIES AND EVEN IMPROVED
EYESIGHT.
THE TEACHER TO STUDENT RATIO IS
ALSO LOWER THAN A REGULAR
CLASSROOM, WHICH MEANS STUDENTS
ARE GETTING MORE ONE-ON-ONE
ATTENTION.

Petra says THE INDOOR CLASSROOM CAN BE A
SPACE THAT CAUSES MORE STRESS
FOR ALL OF US.
AND WHEN WE TAKE CHILDREN OUT
INTO THE FOREST, IT'S AGAIN THAT
IDEA OF SPACE.

A teacher says WHY DON'T WE DO IT TOGETHER?

A kid says OKAY.

The teacher says ALL RIGHT.

Jeyan says THE EDUCATORS ENCOURAGE
STUDENTS TO TAKE RISKS, A MAJOR
THEME IN NATURE SCHOOL.

Marlene says HOLDING A STICK OR BEING ABLE
TO JUMP OFF A ROCK OR JUMP FROM
LOG TO LOG OR STUMP TO STUMP,
THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF ORDINARY,
EVERY DAY RISKS THAT CHILDREN
ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE AND THEY
OFTEN DON'T HAVE OPPORTUNITIES
TO TAKE WHEN THEY'RE IN A
ENVIRONMENT, A BUILDING.

Jeyan says MANY OF THE STUDENTS HERE AT
THE OTTAWA FOREST SCHOOL ARE
EITHER HOME-SCHOOLED OR ATTEND
PUBLIC SCHOOL.

A teacher says BECAUSE ED...

Jeyan says AND IT'S NOT JUST STUDENTS
THAT ARE LEARNING.
THE ALLIANCE HAS TRAINED OVER
400 EDUCATORS.

Marlene says WE'RE NOW WORKING WITH TONS
OF EDUCATORS WHO HAVE A
CLASSROOM AND TEACH WITHIN A
PUBLIC EDUCATION SETTINGS, AND
THEY'RE STARTING TO DO FOREST
SCHOOL AND DELIVER FOREST
SCHOOL.
OFTEN IT'S ONE DAY A WEEK
BECAUSE THE IDEA IS IT HAS TO BE
REGULAR REPEATED EXPERIENCES IN
THE SAME NATURAL SPACE.
WHAT I SEE IN FOREST SCHOOL IS
CHILDREN COME TO LIFE BECAUSE
THAT'S WHAT I SEE-- HAPPINESS,
SOCIAL OUTCOMES, PROBLEM SOLVING
SKILLS, JUST OVERALL JOY.

A teacher says YOU GOT IT.

(music plays)

The end credits roll.

Ontario Hubs Field Producer, Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO.

Editor, David Erwin.

A slate appears with the caption "Ontario Hubs are made possible by: The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

Watch: The Rise of Forest Schools