Our Programme Foci
Wisdom of Nature
Where We Work: Yunnan

Break out of the framework of conventional curricula: let the children cheer for nature

By Li Jinlian (Researcher, Teaching and Research Office, Education Bureau of Shuangjiang County, Yunnan)

In March 2011 the Education Bureau of Shuangjiang County in Yunnan and PCD ratified a "Collaboration Agreement on the Programme on Holistic Education in Qianfu Primary School with Nature Education and Community Culture as its Basis." The purpose of the programme is to enhance participants' love and sense of responsibility for the community and for nature, and to nurture these sentiments inside the participants. Activities in the programme focus on nature, culture and environmental protection and include nature-experience activities, garbage sorting, recycling old stuff, eco-agriculture and surveys of community culture.

Connecting one's inner self with nature

Under the current educational system, most schools and teachers have been paying too much attention to the examination results of their students and too much emphasis on the transmission of knowledge and skills while ignoring the affective development of their students. To address the shortcomings of current school curricula, we have been introducing concepts of affective nature education into school education and helping students take part in all sorts of nature-experience activities. By providing students with opportunities for different experiences and sentiments, it is hoped they will develop an inner connection with nature so that they will simultaneously develop love and a sense of responsibility for nature and for their homeland, and also compassion and concern for all things in nature.

Children are clever and lovely

Last March and May I took part in the nature-experience activities organised for Primary Four and Primary Five students of Qianfu Primary School. The themes were "The Stream of Our Village" and "Hills and Woods in the Summer" respectively. I was very moved by the experience that I shared with the children and their parents. Compared with what I had observed in conventional class learning in schools, I found that children were much more relaxed, clever and lovely when they were in the embrace of nature. They were also more curious and demonstrated a stronger desire for knowledge. They watched with their eyes, listened with their ears and felt with their hearts… In the school of nature children gain a lot of things they do not find in books. I came to realise that the school of nature opens up one's mind, inspires one's thought, enhances one's emotion and sentiment, and nurtures one's inner self. We believe that children should be brought to this school to learn conscientiously from nature, in nature, and to learn to live in harmony with nature.

An impact on teachers' present understanding of teaching

In my exchange with the teachers' committee which was responsible for planning the nature-experience activities, they expressed that this approach had an enormous impact on their understanding of teaching. This is because affective nature education emphasises nurturing the emotion and feelings of students as individuals. The teachers themselves are required to have very deep and strong sentiments. They have to keep creating all sorts of scenarios for the students so that the latter may experience and appreciate what they experience of their own accord….

Because of this, the next stage of the programme will target the teachers and the parents. We believe that we have to "teach ourselves before teaching others." Let's hope that like the students, the teachers and parents may also return to their inner self and feel the infinite charm of nature.

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Following the course of the river in the woods.

The Dage Corps of the village expressing their gratitude to nature with their songs.

Teachers, students and parents taking a picture on the river bank.

 

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