This week during my place bonding I chose to sit on my back deck and look out onto my back yard. During my time sitting there I couldn’t stop noticing about how fast the look of it has changed from just a couple days ago. It was covered with snow with no sign of grass or the cement of the sidewalk but now I can see patches of grass as well as part of the garden being exposed to the sun. I have never thought about how a couple days of nonseasonal weather can change things so drastically. I used to think that if we were going to see changes to this extent that it would take more to a week rather then a day or two. During this place bonding I seemed to lose track of time as I forgot to set a timer and when I finally thought about looking at the clock I was already sitting there for nine minutes by far my longest weekly place bonding.
This week we went to visit the Regina Indian Industrial School that is on Pinkie Road. As soon we got there a feeling of being uncomfortable came over and it wasn’t due to the high cool winds of the morning. That feeling seemed to stay with me until I finished my couple minutes of sitting and thinking about the place that was around me. When I was walking around the grave site it really struck me that the graves were unmarked, it made me feel as if they were trying to make it seem like there death never happened. I know when I go and see my grandfathers grave seeing his headstone helps me connect with him and brings back memories of times I was with him. With these graves being unmarked it takes away that opportunity for someone to feel connected with there loved ones that they have lost. After I did my couple minutes of sitting and thinking about the area that was around me I started to become less uncomfortable as I began to think about this as another way to better my understanding on how residential schools were.
During class this week the elements were in full affect as we started to remember what -25 degrees feels like. I really enjoyed the activity we did in our facilitation groups when we took a part of ‘Coyote and Raven’ and tried to embody that section in how it meant for us. We decided to created a creative dance that involved movements that expressed how the words made us feel. For example when talking about a rock we crawled up making us distance from the environment around us. This activity made me feel connected to our surrounding area as we used how the area made us feel in our creative dance. For Thursday’s class I really enjoyed how we went off campus and experienced a new outdoor classroom while gaining new environmental skills. The three different fire building spots were very interesting to me as I have been in situations where I only had those supplies to build a fire before. One major learning piece I took away from Thursdays class was the importance of teaching your students how to use different tools in order to a simple task. Talking to some classmates after class I found out that it was many of there first time using a flint to start a fire which made teaching this skill very important due to chances of having to use it one day. That can be the beauty of outdoor education as it has an endless amount of teaching opportunists, whether its using it as a outdoor classroom or teaching a useful outdoor survival skill.
This week I did my place bonding on my front step of my house which is on a corner of a four way stop sign. During this time I tried to recognize the difference between the time when there was no movement in sight to the time when there were cars passing by. When I first began my place bonding the only sound that was present was the whipping of tree branches swinging back and forth as the wind started to pick up. I then began to notice my breathing and how it seemed to slow down just as the smooth sound of wind swirling around me took over my hearing. The feeling of being apart of the place around me was becoming real when out of no where the squeak of rusted out breaks come to a flying stop in front of my house. As the old bagged out car left, some of it stayed behind as it filled the air with a smell that the wind swirled around for the rest of my sit. I was never able to hear the wind in the same way as before, the car changed the atmosphere from peaceful to frustrating. “…nature was a place to use all the senses…” (Louv 85).
This week in class my group and I did our Outdoor Learning Experience Facilitation presentation on how to use a compass while learning about treaty education. This experience was very interesting as it was completely different to all my other presentations that I have done in the outdoor’s up to this point. I really enjoyed how this assignment was so open ended in how you could go about picking your topic. This helped me rethink my philosophies towards outdoor education and how I can incorporate it the future to better my students learning opportunities. On Tuesday we had many presentations that all had different important aspects to it that other presentations didn’t have. Parker and Keegan showed how you can use the outdoor’s as a physical education area while learning about different cultures in a welcoming environment. Looking at Karrissa, Emily and Cassidy’s presentation they expressed how you can work as a team to overcome a problem and work together to find a solution. All of these show how an outdoor classroom can be used and how it can benefit your students in opening there minds to new learning experiences.
During class this week we spent a lot of time learning knots and trying to build a wind barrier for the class. This brought back memories to my time in the out door school program at Greenall as we got stuck in a wind storm one evening. One of the things I remember from the last couple class is the blanket exercise we did as it made understanding what the First Nations people were forced to do. I found being involved in the exercise brought new information in that I didn’t know before. As well as being able to see how the Europeans came in and changed the whole landscape that the First nations had in place. During the exercise we were told to fold up our blankets into smaller pieces yet there was still the same amount of people but half our land was taken away. This helped me notice the feeling of being uncomfortable and the lose of trust the First Nations people must of felt. The visual aspect was the biggest part for my better understanding in how the First Nations must of felt when there land and children were being taken away. This experience made me feel ashamed in how we treated the people who were here before we came in and changed there whole way of life.
This place will always have a special meaning to myself as it was the place where I found peace. It’s a place where you create bonds with people that you can’t make anywhere else as you rely on them to do their part; meaning making supper,making the fire,carrying the food and tent. It was mid spring when we went on a canoe trip on the Churchill river and the beauty of every square inch made me fall in love with it. After being there for a bit you gain a relationship with the environment you’re in as you try to keep the natural beauty in tech. Since that trip I’ve never came across such clean refreshing air that can instantly change your mood. “I take a deep breath in a try to fill my lungs with as much of this beautiful fresh air as I possibly can.” There’s nothing motorized wrecking the environment making taking a breath that much sweeter. “It’s so peaceful out there and the air smells so good.” (Louv, page 13).
Being so far away from home and my normal life was extremely important in my understanding how you can learn so much by leaving your normal surroundings. I know from experience that going out to different places and learning about that certain ecosystem or ecoregion changes the learning experience as you see,feel and touch it first hand. Many students find it hard to pay attention to their work when surrounded by distracting things such as there phones, friends and everyday stresses but taking them away from all of those can open them up to a new form of learning making it more interesting and exciting.”Being so far away from home, coming here feels like an escape from reality.” I really like this quote from Matthew’s blog as he says a change of location can help distress from our busy lives.
The cool breeze slaps my face as it flies off the cold blue water and welcomes me to the day. I take a deep breath in a try to fill my lungs with as much of this beautiful fresh air as I possible can. I stand along the shore wishing I could watch the sun rise against the water all morning as it brings off a natural beauty that you can’t find anywhere else. Nature has its own way of saying good morning as it attacks all your senses in a matter of seconds. I start to look around at the area around me and notice how far the water seem to stretch out and how calm it is throughout. The trees that surround the lake are tall and strong making me feel safe and comfortable.
Looking back over my shoulder I see my buddy as he emerges out of the tall pines with a smile from ear to ear as he gets the same welcome I received. He joins me down by the water as we fill our water bags to start the day. The birds singing occupy the silence as I fill up my water bag. I walk over to a tree that I can hang it on and I realize my buddy is still by the water. He looks over at me then looks back at our canoe sitting along the shore. A little canoe ride before the rest of the class wakes up seems like a great idea to both of us. As soon as we get on the water we are both blown away by the calmness of the morning as there isn’t any movement in sight. We paddle down the river with smooth quiet strokes to keep the beauty of the moment in tech, we continue down the river taking as many deep breaths as we can. Most of us take for granted how beautiful Saskatchewan really is, these lakes I am surrounded by make me feel as if I was in British Columbia which some say is the prettiest place in Canada. I place my hand in the cold water and drag it along as we go along the river and notice the ripples coming off my one one after another as we paddle along. At this moment I start to hear my buddy start to sing and he starts to get louder and louder. I turn around to look at him and I notice that he has the biggest smile on his face as he must feel how welcoming this environment is.
When I think about nature the first thing that comes to mind is how peaceful and relaxing something so simple can be. When I was in high school I was lucky enough to be a part of the out door school program, there where we practiced stillness all the time without even knowing it. When we were on our trips every night our teacher would have us grab our journals and find a place all alone to write about our day as well as the place around us. I can remember this one place in particular where we jumped into our canoes and paddled to our on island in the middle of the church hill river just me and my canoeing partner. I remember feeling so energized from the fresh air and the cool breeze coming off the water. On page 7 Louv says “Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it.” I agree with this statement as I remember feeling like I was on this island for hours when in realness the teacher said we were only on it for half a hour. Nature has its own way of slowing down time making you take in every second and truly notice the beauty that you are surrounded in.
Being outside has always been a place were I’ve felt comfortable and seek in a time of stress for my release from the busy schedules we put on ourselves. Taking time to practice stillness has been a huge part of my life without me knowing what I was doing as it makes me forget about the stress and just enjoy those minutes of peace and relaxation.