Tag Archives: school

Dear Mr Gibb…

If you read one of my latest posts, Thanks Mr Gibb but nature is important, you’ll know that back in July I met with my local MP and then went onto write to Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department of Education, about the need for outdoor/environmental education on the National Curriculum.

After Nick Gibb’s very unhelpful, but predictable, reply I have gone on to set up a very exciting project/campaign that I hope to share with you all in the next few days. Along with this I also wrote back to him. I haven’t received a reply yet but I’ve decided to share the letter that I wrote with you all.

Dear Mr Gibb

 

Thank you for your reply to my letter, a copy of which I have attached. I’m pleased you took the time to reply to what I had to say regarding the need for more outdoor education at primary level.

 

However, I would like to reply and add to my point. In the letter it seems you have stated what is on the National Curriculum at the moment, I had done my research before sending you the letter so knew this already. I feel as though you have not considered my point and you don’t reply to my statement that we need more young people coming through into either professions in conservation etc or the importance of why every child needs to have a connection with their natural surroundings. I don’t mean to be rude but do you not understand that nature is important?

 

You mention how the environment is included in biology and geography. When I think back to any environmental education throughout my primary education I can’t think of one example. I asked my brother and he said he may be able to think of one, however this was organised solely through the school. The only reason why he remembers this is because it was practical, which is what’s so important. It imprints in your mind due to the amazement you experience.

 

I go into local primary schools and do activities with younger children through community based projects. some of which I’ve helped set up myself. The last visit into a school was just a couple of weeks ago when we did bug hunting with year 2’s. None of them had done anything like this before. When a blackbird flew past, they had no idea what it was.

 

My point is, if there is a teaching of nature in schools which is already on the curriculum then it simply isn’t enough. One of the children said that it was one of the best days of his life! It not only benefited him in the way that he learnt something new but it made him feel better, made him happy. Isn’t making a young child at school happy something that you should aim for? Improving a child’s education? Except I know that he will most likely never do anything like that again. It was a one off project, the school have obviously not enrolled in something like this before or else he would have been able to tell me. In today’s society when most parents worry about dangers and so called ‘dangers’ he probably won’t be encouraged to do it again either.

 

A question I’d like you to ask yourself is when you were younger, how did you fill the time when you had nothing to do or just for something to do in general? If you were like my parents and grandparents then it was the case of just going outside. Climbing trees, riding bikes, playing sport in big open fields, appreciating the wildlife around and so on. Perhaps it was something you took for granted as it was always there and always an option? Your parents had no problem with it and nether did society. As well as this, at the moment, deep down I’m sure you understand and know what towards nature has positive and negative impacts. From Wikipedia I know you were born in 1960. From the State of Nature report I also know that since 1970, when you would of been 10, 60% of animals and plants studied have declined.  Along with other threats too. Now isn’t that scary? Well more then scary, nature not only in the UK but abroad too is in some trouble. We can do what we can now but what about the future? What way will it go? With figures showing only 1 in 10 children connect with nature, I’m very worried and it could well be very bleak.

 

But why is that so important to be acting for nature? Well you just think back to what you had to eat last night, everything on that plate was only there because of the natural world. All the ecosystems. It’s why we’re here today so not only is it beautiful and enjoyable but important to all of us.

 

I’ve gone a bit away from the point but I wanted to make myself clear. Even though some outdoor education is there, I know it varies from school to school. A child isn’t going to develop any type of interest when they have a couple of lessons in year 2 then a couple in year 5. I’m sure you’re very aware that it doesn’t work like that. Although out of school outdoor activities, sessions etc for children are very important, not every child has the privilege to attend.

 

I have many more points that I can add to my argument and I would appreciate it if you could take some more time out and we could arrange to chat about this extremely important subject in person.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Georgia Locock

Follow up – Green revision

It seems so long since I did my last set of exams that I can’t even remember what it was like when I was revising. Even though I may not have thought it at the time, there is another side!

Some of you may remember that I wrote a blog about how I was getting through the stress of my exams and revision. I found all the advice that I was given from the school and others very stressful so I took a step back and did what I enjoy more then anything, just chilling out by going out on my local patch. Even though I always find this extremely beneficial I didn’t think I’d find it as helpful as I did when doing my exams. It was something that I thought would only get better if I got on with them and the revision.

It was a great discovery I made. I thought that surely others would find it as useful as I. Just going out and being surrounded by greenery. Without over thinking it though, this is obvious. It’s like some sort of ‘nature programming’ in everyone’s mind. Forever humans have been surrounded by, worked with and took from nature. It leaves me very confused that this isn’t understood and that nowadays people think they know better with new techniques, gadgets etc when this is what’s in our blood and has always been.

Anyway, my technique of taking breaks and going onto my patch helped a hell of a lot. It completely destressed me and by the look of my results worked wonders! I’m not saying that my results are all down to this but the only two techniques I used were actually getting on with the revision and getting out. None of this take a break to make a drink or go and watch telly for five minutes.

If you’d like to read the blog I did ‘Green revision’ whilst I was in the midst of my exams click here.

 

Day of talking all things wild!

Back in November I gave my first talk at a local school which is a school for autism. After filming the wildlife in the woodland on their school premises over the summer I rounded up all of my best footage and produced a talk for the students. This was very similar to what I did today. Over the last few weeks and months I have been filming all the wildlife in the woodland on the school premises but this time I focused on species which are more active in the Spring and around the feeding station.

At the school they love the wildlife they have in the woodland. They have special lessons when the students will go out and do a variety of activities whilst being surrounded by nature and observing the wildlife around them. I’ve been told many times in the past that these kids are very tense and suffer from other illnesses like depression but when they’re out in the woods they immediately start to feel more relaxed and chilled out. This is very important for those children and it’s obvious by all of the photos I’ve seen and how they reacted to my talk that they love animals. This is mainly due to the regular lesson of going outside and the enthusiasm of some of the teachers. It makes me wonder the impact this could have on mainstream schools, undoubtedly it could be extremely beneficial.

In my talk, first of all I went through all of the birds that we filmed at the feeding station and some others which may also be found there. Then I went onto other day time visitors like the squirrels before going onto the visitors at night. With the trail cameras we were very lucky to film foxes and badgers in the woodland here which was really fantastic and really great to show the students. Overall it was a really lovely day and I really enjoyed myself. I look forward to perhaps doing another day of talks there in the future.school

 

I would also like to share some exciting news about a photography competition I won a few weeks back. Here’s the article in my local newspaper about it  – http://www.lichfieldmercury.co.uk/Young-Friary-photographers-impress-camera-skills/story-26642578-detail/story.html

Green revision

I got home from school after my history exam yesterday morning and I felt pretty down. I’d spent all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday revising none stop and I was just about to start again in preparation for two exams the next day.

There’s no doubt about it that anyone studying any type of exam during their school years or beyond find it tough and difficult to revise. Whether it be SATs, Mock exams, GCSEs, AS, A2 or so on. It’s a stressful time and we all long for a technique which will help us revise and get those vital facts and figures screwed into our heads. There’s a lot of pressure put on us and as someone studying their GCSEs at the moment I find it extremely overwhelming. If it’s not the teachers nagging and moaning that if we don’t do this or this then we won’t get our target grade then it’s the worry of have I done enough revision. Along with the constant worry of have I done well enough to get the grades I need to go on to do what I want to do next year. That’s without a doubt the most worrying, I’m always thinking have I done enough and what will happen if I haven’t. There’s a lot of competition nowadays for places in colleges, sixth forms, jobs and so on.

Obviously revising has a major part to play in the grades we get. You revisit what you’ve already done and try to make sure everything you need for the exam has been absorbed. At school I had a week of assemblies about revision techniques, all of which I found completely useless. If anything it was just over thinking what we should be doing and trying to make it seem something that it isn’t. Along with this there’s all talk about we need to relax and take regular breaks. This could include going to get a drink or perhaps a quick snack. Or perhaps intervals and spending time watching TV or perhaps spending time with your friends at the weekend. As I mentioned before, to me it’s all over done and it’s far from relaxed and helping. Most of the time we know these techniques. Relaxing isn’t going to happen by popping for a snack or watching TV every few hours, in my opinion it’s a massive distraction and fires you up more about the revision you’re about the go and do again. When doing things like this you block it out and don’t look forward to going back to it, your mind sees the short term and the fact that the rest of your day will be boring and not the fact that if you do well in revision you’ll do well in the exam and therefore get the grades you need. In the heat of revising you forget this. Then when you have short, block outs from it this doesn’t help either. You seem to force yourself to forget.

In our homes we’re surrounded by hustle and bustle, whether we see it or not. It might be the TV on downstairs or a car driving past. One thing I worried about when my exams approached, like many others, was will I have time to myself? Will I have time to meet with my friends or go out on a walk? Wildlife and being outdoors is my method of relaxing anyway as it’s my passion. However when I think about it, it’s much more then that. As soon as I hit the overgrown pass on my local patch everything zones out. I forget about the hustle and bustle and the traffic noise. The greenery takes me away, it’s pure. Once I’ve walked along into the wilderness more, the actual sound of traffic does go and in every direction there is nothing but nature.  When this surrounds me I can’t help but relax and completely forget about everything, including my exams. When I return home I sometimes feel like I’ve been in some sort of comma as I feel revitalised again. I’m away from all man-made things like my laptop, the TV as well as my revision and the exams. I wonder to myself what if (what if) other people in the same position as me would get the same effect, I immediately think no. The reason why I find it as a good break is because it’s something I love and other kids my age have different interests again. However I then begin to think about all the studies which show how a trip out within nature should be something a doctor should prescribe and how studies do show it reduces stress levels.

When I return home, how destressed I feel is pretty amazing. I know how much I love being out in the wilderness but surely others would feel this to a certain extent too. It really is away from EVERYTHING. Nothing in sight, nothing can be heard therefore nothing in mind. As well as this as I observe what is going on around me, I see the world around me from a different angle, an angle where everything is natural and my brain seems to switch to a different mode. A mode where I can think and see clearly. I do think about my exams but not like I would if I was sitting in front of a TV screen, I think about them from a different angle and most of all when I do so I don’t feel stressed. I’ve spoken to many people recently, my age and older, and they have said that when they feel stressed or tense they’ll go out for a walk in the countryside and this has an impact on them. When they return home they feel much better and their mind has been cleared.

Anyway, my point is going out for a walk in the countryside is something simple and easy. It’s not over thinking anything like when I’ll go and get the next chocolate bar or when I’ll watch TV or how long I’ll spend on a break. It’s simple and completely relaxing. Another example is at a school, of which I know one of the teachers. The school is a school for students with Autism. One of the things they will do most days is go out into the woodland. I’m told that these students are often tense and stressed but when they’re out surrounded by nature everything drops and it’s as though they’re reformed for a short while.

Imagine if something like this, the idea of just going out when things got stressful with exams within younger people did happen. They could go with their friends and it could become something ‘cool’. Along with this there’s no doubt that they would get to know the true feel and understanding of nature. This could be a precious thing as it would be something they may teach to their own children and something they’d do when they experience everyday stress when they’re older.

Overall it could be a win win situation. Children and young people would be taught to connect with nature as an effective way to relax, especially with the pressure of schools, then they’d grow with this and nature could be valued more throughout more young people. One of the reasons why I decided to write this post is because I’m pretty positive exploring the countryside to get away from exam pressure would be very effective for ANY young person but would they give it a go? Give it a chance and open their minds to it? Just think, how often do you go out on a walk in the countryside and see someone who’s got a sad face or look unhappy, unless it’s a farmer telling you to get off their land, it’s not very often.