Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Motivation Behind Outdoor Education

The best part of growing up in Texas was how my father would take any opportunity to get us kids outside. Any given weekend and often during the week, he'd take us for a drive into the countryside. With him at our side, we would run our energy off exploring creeks, and live oak forests, and prairies. It was through him and his quiet and calm way, that I learned to love nature.

Even though my dad was no scientist, I learned the difference between a tadpole and minnow, between an oak tree and a pecan tree, and the difference between a creek and a river, by joining him in our outdoor adventures. Just think how these experiences built up my word bank, filled me with memories, and enriched me in ways no book or movie ever could!

Being outside in nature creates a sense of exploration and discovery in children. As they cultivate this love of nature, children will develop a respect for it and see its value. Without these informal and sometimes formal learning experiences, students will miss the opportunity to see how we fit into our environment. Someday they will be making decisions between preservation or building another mall or highway. Without a love and understanding of nature, it will be all too easy to tear down a forest, dam a river, or plow over a prairie in the name of progress. It doesn't take that much to help a kid connect to nature-- just go outside and see what happens.

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