The 2020-21 school year has been … ummm … let’s call it memorable. We can throw in exhausting as well. This past year I’ve written a lot about the pandemic — its effects on us, what we’ve learned from it, and how we might grow from it. I’ve written a total of 17 posts since August and 6 of them have specifically referenced the pandemic.
It’s been on my mind. I’ve never blogged so consistently about a topic in one year.
Some of my other blog posts from this year didn’t actually mention COVID or the pandemic, but honestly, the link was there if you wanted to find it — for example, the one on the importance of being kind (We’re All Fighting a Battle – Apr 2021).
The point I’m making is this …
There hasn’t been a day that went by where we were not thinking about the pandemic, worrying about the pandemic, or wondering about what comes next in the pandemic.
It has consumed everyone this year.
And for me, it has been quite cathartic to have my blog where I can crystalize my thoughts and share them with you. But, I also hope that it has been helpful for you to know what I’m thinking and processing during this year of incredible change and opportunity.
I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
It would be a typical day in late spring. I was in my classroom teaching science. The weather was warm, sunny and inviting. A hand would rise and the polite voice would ask, “Can we go outside for class today? Please, Mr. Eberwein.” Most sunny days the question repeated itself. What the students probably didn’t realize is that I wanted to be outside as well. However, my lessons just didn’t fit well with being outdoors so the answer was often a NO.
But, IS there some evidence that supports the idea that learning outside is beneficial — that being immersed in our natural surroundings is actually helpful while learning curriculum?
We have all heard anecdotal support for learning outside — that being in nature is calming and centering — things like going on nature hikes, being in outdoor classrooms, or taking field trips to the beach or old growth forests all are great experiences. But, I haven’t seen the empirical evidence to support that notion.
Now, three researchers have reviewed hundreds of other studies to find an answer to the question of whether being in nature makes a difference to learning.
I started this blog post way back in 2018 but didn’t finish it as I couldn’t seem to get ‘lift off’. I had written about 100 words and then stalled. I kept going back to it — I’d add a little and then delete it. I wasn’t going anywhere with it. I almost deleted the entire thing but decided to keep it in my ‘drafts’ and ignore it for awhile. There it sat for almost 2 1/2 years.
And then I opened it back up in early 2021.
A blog by George Couros had originally piqued my curiosity on the topic of The Adaptable Mind. I watched the video again and this time something clicked — funny how that works — a new context, a new time and you can sometimes find success when it eluded you in the past. An important life lesson in itself for all of us.
The 2021 context of living in a pandemic may have actually helped me personalize the ideas to make the topic my own.
As we work creatively to find new ways of making education in a pandemic more meaningful and relevant, the idea of focusing on flexible thinking makes perfect sense.
ADAPTABILITY will only make our students more successful during this wild time of uncertainty and change.