Thrive Outside offered because kids do exactly that

Thrive Outside, a Vegetable Project initiative offering teachers at Myers Middle School an opportunity to test drive outdoor instruction, launched yesterday, Monday, May 4. The idea is to give educators a chance to learn how teaching outdoors would feel, with the hope that we’ll get rave reviews that will build momentum for the outdoor classroom idea we’ve been jabbering about for years. We’ll see.

But understand, we know from our own experience and from the work of many important thinkers, that children, no, make that people, Thrive Outside. Harnessing the power of exposure to nature will yield positive education results and positive life outcomes, and especially for kids with the greatest challenges in their lives.

It feels good to get to this point, where we have installed rented event tents at the school and have recruited a team of volunteers to show classes around our garden, start seeds with kids and otherwise support teachers who may want a hand in whatever they’ll do. We are thrilled that Principal Bill Rivers, who just came to Myers back in September, has arranged to keep the tents that we brought in until graduation in June, thus providing so many more opportunities for teachers to give teaching outdoors a try. But surely we have work ahead in making the case that teaching and learning in fresh air, amid trees and green grass, will make a difference, and especially for the kids who are not thriving in the mainstream school program.

We will suggest that the change of scenery, without even any change in instruction, is reason enough to come outside. That probably provokes some skepticism. We get that not everyone is as willing as we are to put up with a bit of rain or cold or heat. We recognize that the connection between tasting unfamiliar greens in the garden and persisting in difficult school subjects may not be so clear.

We firmly expect, however, the school world to come around to the notion that exposure to nature and time spent outdoors contributes enormously to wellbeing and that wellbeing in turn vastly improves prospects for navigating life’s challenges, including schoolwork, effectively. And that is why we talked up teaching and learning outside long before we ever knew the word coronavirus and why we’ll continue pestering about it long after the last vaccine is administered. But it’s also worth stating that it’s more urgent now than ever.

We’ll talk more about the daily doings of Thrive Outside on social media. Please check in now and then.

–Bill Stoneman

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