Connecting with nature for equity and rigor

“When we address privilege and inequity, access to nature should be high on our list,” says Kate Ehrenfeld Gardoqui in The Irrefutable Case for Taking Class Outside in the current issue of Education Week. Gardoqui, a senior associate with the Great Schools Partnership and the cofounder of White Pine Programs, a nature-connection organization in southern Maine, goes on to say, “Research suggests that regular contact with nature—even in the context of a small schoolyard or garden—can improve students’ physical fitness, mental health, academic achievement, and cognitive, social-emotional and motor functions.”

Working in a school district that has rightly identified equity as an important priority, it is heartening to see another thinker hold up access to nature as a big element of that. Moreover, Gardoqui makes an essential point, that taking teaching and learning outdoors is about rigorous academic work and social, emotional and physical health, not about having fun.

That’s our thinking, too, at the Vegetable Project, and why we talk up getting classes outside whenever we get the chance and why we work to develop an outdoor classroom at Myers Middle School.

Thanks to one great friend, Darryl McGrath, for catching this piece and sending it to another friend, Jane Gottlieb, who forwarded to us.

–Bill Stoneman

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