Nature in the Real World: Should Nature Be Utilized in the Academic World?

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Today, I read “Please Pass the Hacksaw,” Chapter Eleven of Florence Williams’s The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. I mentioned this book previously because it made me think a little bit about my own attention span and how nature affects my ability to focus. Now, it has me thinking about the effect of nature in the academic world.

As a teacher, I found this chapter very interesting. Although I teach high schoolers, I’ve heard arguments about nature-immersive elementary programs. I haven’t heard much about high school programs, though. Williams mentions a private school for older students with ADHD (mostly?) that has them learning but also has them experiencing nature. The chapter also includes statistics about the increase in depression, ADHD, anxiety, etc., and how nature could be a beneficial way to approach treatment.

I personally love the idea of incorporating nature into my classroom. When the weather is nice, especially after a long winter, I love taking my students outside to read or discuss.  I teach in a windowless classroom, so I enjoy being outside as much as if not more than my students. Other than reading and discussing outside, I have students use sticks, leaves, mud, etc., to build primitive shelters and then write a how-to essay so students can replicate them. This is about as far as my nature-in-the-English-classroom lessons go, unfortunately.

Reading this chapter from Williams’s book has me interested in coming up with some more ideas to bring my classroom out to nature or bring nature into my classroom. (Winter does get a bit chilly, you know.) I’d like to research and brainstorm ideas throughout the school year and try to implement at least a few. (If you have any ideas, feel free to share them!)

I’ll try to update my nature-in-the-academic-world adventures as the school year progresses. But for now, I’ll enjoy my last few days of summer vacation . . . mostly outside, of course!

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