Stories from my personal journey learning about and delivering Nature-rooted programs across three different countries
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So far my journal entries have been focused on my mini-triumphs – the moments where I've felt I've been able to recognise or apply, somewhat successfully, what I have been learning with the PRU. Today I didn't have any of those moments....Today I tried to use what I've been learning, but each time I seemed to fall flat on my face. Let me explain:
Situation one: Henry wanted to build a base camp and wanted to harvest some material. He was struggling to break a branch he wanted to use, so he asked me for help. I said, “Instead of breaking it, do you think there's a tool we could use?” Henry agreed he'd be better off using a tool, so he said, “I'll stay here, you go get the loppers”. (Henry doesn't like doing things for himself, he'd much prefer to order someone else around to do things for him). I decided to challenge him on this, so I said, “I don't feel comfortable just going to get the loppers for you because it feels like I'm being bossed around and I don't like that feeling. I'd be happy to work on it together though. Why don't we both go get the loppers?”. Henry responded with, “But you said you would help me and you can help me by going to get the loppers”..... So I tried a different method, “How would you feel if I wanted to do something and ordered you to go get something for me?” That would make him understand, right? But Henry said, “Good”. So I said, “That's interesting, it makes me feel bad”. Henry was getting impatient with me so he stamped his foot and said again, “I need to stay here, so you need to go get the loppers!”. So I responded, “I've told you how I feel about it, so how can we resolve this?” And at that very moment, Oliver walked past with a pair of loppers heading off to cut some saplings for arrows. Henry seized the opportunity and told Oliver to cut his branch, which Oliver did immediately. Henry was happy, the job was done, he didn't need me anymore and walked away...
Situation two: Jake found a gall and came over to show me. We talked about gall wasps and how galls form, which he seemed to find interesting. I thought to myself, “Is there anyway I can extend this?” So I asked, “Is there anything we can do with the gall? Could we make something out of it?” We decided it was a decent ball and started to play catch, but this got boring pretty quickly. I suggested the idea of using sticks like bats to try to hit the gall when it was thrown to us, an idea which Jake liked. So I was batter first and he threw the gall, which I hit with the stick. Jake asked to have a go, so I threw the gall to him, he swung and he missed. We found the gall and I threw it a second time, he swung and missed again. Then he gave up, deciding he was rubbish and walked away...
Situation three: Jake was sitting in the hammock and Connor came over because he wanted a turn. They argued about it for a while and asked me to decide who could use it. I said, “We haven't discussed any rules for the hammock, can we think of any ideas for how we could share the hammock so we all feel it is fair?” They scoffed at that and continued to argue, then arguing turned into insults and then Connor began to try to swing the hammock wildly so Jake would fall out. So Jake told Connor he was annoying and should go away. I decided to intervene here and asked Connor, “How did you feel, Connor, when Jake said that to you?” Connor didn't really respond. So I continued, “I can imagine it must not feel very nice when someone calls you a name like that, Connor, and I can see the you're not enjoying being swung around on the hammock like that, Jake. So neither of you are very happy with this situation. Can we think of a better way to resolve this?” Then Connor picked up Jake's bow that had been left on the ground and Jake demanded it back. But Connor ran away with it instead. Jake got angry that Connor wouldn't give it back, ran after him swearing and threw a log at him...
So no mini-victories today, but the interactions have still provided me with opportunity for reflection and learning:
Situation one: I think this one was just bad luck with timing. I'm ok with how I interacted with Henry and the way I tried to communicate with him. You've got to pick your battles, and I'm writing this one off as a lost one.
Situation two: I knew Jake had low self-esteem and was afraid to try new things for fear of failure. I didn't know much about his motor skills and coordination or whether he would be able to hit a ball with a stick. Turns out his motor skills and coordination aren't very developed. I therefore set him up to fail. Next time I will be more observant of a child's current skill and development level before suggesting an activity. In the future I will attempt to set up activities that Jake and other children find challenging but also achievable. I also missed the opportunity to let the activity be more child led instead of trying to direct it. I will be more careful about this in the future. These are both good lessons and I'm grateful for them.
Situation three: These boys were already in a heightened emotional state and I was trying to reason with them. We know from studying the brain that trying to apply logic and reasoning when a person is emotional is futile. So, we could have tried to come to an agreement about hammock use before putting it up. This foresight could have helped settle the dispute between Jake and Connor more effectively. Another good lesson learned here too.
And the most important lesson for me today was accepting I made mistakes, feeling ok about that, and taking the opportunity to reflect about what I could learn from them. It makes me feel more grounded, more self-tolerant, trusting and also gives me a sense of delight in embracing my mistakes and imperfections.