Earth Education UK

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Where are they now?

Does anyone still  have contact with people who attended earth education programmes when youngsters? We like to think that an earth education programme has a lasting effect on participants. Research has shown that there is a lasting impact on understandings of ecological processes and on attitudes to helping the environment but such studies usually only follow up for 6 months up to two years after participating in a programme. Children move up through the education system and it is difficult to keep track of participants.

We know from running Wyre Forest Sunship Earth that a number of participants come back as young leaders on the programme and we can see that they love Sunship Earth and are keen to help other young people to have these experiences. Many go on to study environmental related subjects at University and/or train to be teachers. I sometimes  hear from friends whose children have attended the programme and they often report that their children have followed similar career pathways.

We also hear that many youngsters on returning home, pester their parents to adopt more environmentally responsible habits in the home. However this is often short lived! , Once they become teenagers they sometimes rebel against their family environmental good habits (parents who send their children to SSE are often pretty committed to living lightly in the first place). I suspect though that once teenage rebellion has passed, many reclaim their environmental commitments.

Do you know anyone who attended an earth education programme in the past? What are they doing now? Are they working in an environmentally related career? Volunteering? Demonstrate environmental good habits in their lives?  Please post your responses.

John Rhymer

1 comment:

  1. After the heart warming Saturday meeting I am pleased to respond to John’s challenge or request to add something to the blog. My research (2001-2010) turned out to be less about the impact of Magic Spots on children as the significance of them for their lives and connectedness with the whole of the more than human community of the planet.

    Since I got back from Ringsfield I feel that when I’m here [Holloway, a district of inner city London] with all the noise and pollution I feel that my thoughts are in prison, they are all a blur, but when I was there, sitting in all that silence with all the space, all my thoughts came flowing out of my brain, like I couldn’t stop them. (Girl, 10 years old)

    As I breathed the morning air I could smell the newly cut grass out in the field. It felt like the whole world was as still as I felt. In my head I felt as though I was about to float up in the air. As my mind wandered off in another world. I could hear the whole world waking up. (Unnamed, 9 year old)

    It was peaceful. I really liked being on my own for once thinking about all the silence around me the smell of the breeze

    As I listening to the birds singing, I could see birds flying to one tree to another. I was wondering things such as how do birds sing? However I could smell the air blowing through my hair…I could small the oxygen coming from the trees.

    As Earth Education teaches us we need to spend time, energy and care facilitating these precious times of solitude in the natural world. My research clearly showed that Magic Spots are rich for the children as long as they occur within a atmosphere of gentle empathy and shared expectancy. They are a space of mystery, ‘a spatiality of orientation towards a possible world’ (Ponty 1996, 285). For the children in their Magic Spots this is likely to be a new world.

    In my magic spot I have noticed some really amazing things. I noticed a colourful ladybird and bugs. My favourite is hearing the wonderful trees going ‘Wisha wisha wisha’, it sounds as if they were really enjoying their selfs. And the fresh air makes me think of a new world.

    ‘The opportunity for children to be able to enter other spaces in which they can be what they are has been shown to be frequently sought after, for example in retreating to a favourite place to be alone and to contemplate (Erricker et al 1997, and Hyde 2005, 38).

    A large old oak tree cort my eye, i decided to draw it. as i drawed I wondered about that bird and why it made that noise maybe it was angry, sad? Who knows! I’m not sure what came into my thoughts next it was a mixture of anger, sadness and lonliness, i understand the anger, sadness but not the loneliness perhaps its to do with the amount of space there is around here. (Boy, aged 8, 2004)

    You can hear the wind breezing in all different directions. You can sit there peacefully and think of your own intentions or just day dream. If you look all around you, you can see rocks, sheep and nothing but greenery. My secret spot makes me think sad and happy memories and all about my secret stuff. I love my secret spot!

    I like how the sun shines and the buds are all singing and the flowers are blooming and all nature is out. (unnamed, 8 year old, 2002)

    What a privilege to be given the opportunity to offer the children in our care this experience, as John Chryssavgis puts it:
    A way of waiting, a way of watching, and a way of is a way of interiority, of stopping and then of exploring the cellars of the heart and the centre of life...silence is never merely a cessation of words...rather it is the pause that holds together all the words both spoken and unspoken. Silence is the glue that connects our attitudes and actions. It is fullness not emptiness, it is not an absence but the awareness of a presence. (Chryssavgis 2008, 46)
    There’s plenty more, but I guess a blog is not the time to write even this much. Maybe it’s a book! I have the references, but I deleted them because of available space.
    Chris Walton


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