The Forest School Virus...
Forest School seems to me to be a bit like an infection... but in a good way! (Don't be put off yet, let me explain!) When a person is first exposed to Forest School it can be confusing, almost disorientating, for them. Since it is a form of education so unlike mainstream schooling, its ideas and ethos start to inhabit their mind.
They sometimes take a while to ponder it, like chewing the cud, processing what it truly is and how it works. And then it often begins to change the way they think, altering their perspectives and modifying points of view until sometimes that person is forever changed (once you go Forest School you can't go back!).
As a person discovers the positive impacts Forest School has on those who are involved in it, they often transmit 'The Forest School Bug' onto others, spreading their enthusiasm like a contagion.
It can be easy for some to dismiss Forest School by ascribing it as a fad, to be lumped in with all the other trendy theories of education that go in and out of fashion over the years. Some may feel that Forest School will only be popular until the next 'thing' comes along.
And perhaps this is the case. Maybe someday a new and exciting form of education will follow suit, sweeping Forest School and its six principles to the side. But that's not necessarily a bad thing...
You can't deny that Forest School impacts participants in a variety of positive ways and its influence for encouraging people to just get outside reaps great rewards. But it's not just the skills, the teaching methods, the taking place in the great outdoors and the effect this has on our physical and emotional well being that makes Forest School so important.
The biggest impact it has is that it teaches us how to think. It teaches children how to become independent, assess and manage risk, use creativity and think for themselves.
But it also teaches adults how to re-think – to evaluate the systems that are in place, to recognise we are an evolving society and it's ok to do things differently, not just carry on because “this is how it's always been”, but rather consider the following questions: Does it work? Is it still relevant today? How can we make it better?
It is how Forest School encourages this process of thought that makes it most significant. So if another trend does come along in the future, eventually outcompeting Forest School in popularity, that would be ok with me...
As long as it follows the process of thought that Forest School fosters, which strives to enable us to adapt to our ever-changing world and provides us with the creativity, skills, and motivation to do things better.