Introducing young teachers to the outdoor classroom

by Nancy Sableski, Manager of Children’s Education

November 22, 2016

Students explore North Woods

Introducing young teachers to the outdoor classroom

Students explore North Woods

BU students examine life in the leaf litter of the North Woods

Each spring and fall, the Field Study Experiences utilizes the Arnold Arboretum’s North Woods as the ideal classroom for kids to experience the natural world. With volunteer guides, students venture into a small forest, overturn rotting logs, and observe soil-dwelling organisms with bug boxes and probes. The North Woods functions as an equally effective classroom for the next generation of classroom teachers. Each fall and spring, the Arboretum hosts Early Education majors from the Boston University School of Education. Experiencing the Arboretum with their professor, Dr. Nermeen Dashoush, these students often find the woods as novel and exciting to explore as our elementary school visitors.

Dr. Dashoush believes that teachers need these outdoor experiences as much as young children. Many soon-to-be teachers have never explored nature comfortably or in detail, and do not know how to plan for teaching in the outdoors. However, once exposed to a setting like the North Woods, they quickly perceive the multiple benefits of bringing children into nature to learn.

This fall Dr. Dashoush brought her class to the Arboretum in September and again in November. The evolution of attitudes and behaviors in the intervening weeks was immediately apparent. Students who expressed reservations on their first visit in September now eagerly investigated their surroundings. They quickly began their search for organisms, and just as readily engaged in taking field notes. This dramatic change illustrates the potential of young adults, as well as young children, to embrace new experiences as they become acquainted with nature.

If you are interested in bringing your pre-service teachers to the Arboretum for a similar experience, please contact Nancy Sableski at 617.384.5239 or email nancy_sableski@harvard.edu

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