Rewilding education?

In an effort to link to yesterday’s post, I picked up a book tip from geography legend and  colleague Alan ParkinsonFeral: Rewilding the….  At Patcham High, we have a Drop Everything And Read policy where everyone on site reads for fifteen minutes a day.  Feral is my current DEAR book.
This morning, I read the chapter linked to (re)introducing beavers and other ‘keystone’ species, such as wolves, to ecosystems.  George points out, that ecosystems are so complex, we couldn’t possibly know what effects one action may take.  Similarly, the purpose of rewilding, is the rewilding process: there is no endpoint.

I see the mass restoration of ecosystems, meaning taking down the fences, blocking up the drainage ditches, enabling wildlife to spread. Reintroducing missing species, and particularly missing species which are keystone species, or ecosystem engineers. These are species which have impacts greater than their biomass alone would suggest. They create habitats, and create opportunities for many other species. Good examples would be beavers, wolves, wild boar, elephants, whales — all of which have huge ramifying effects on the ecosystem, including parts of the ecosystem with which they have no direct contact.Still with me? Link

There are parallels (at least in my mind) between the idea of rewilding and schooling.  Education and schooling never really stops and the purpose of our institutions can’t simply be the pursuit of qualifications.  That would be fairly shallow.  I would argue that teachers are the keystone species of schools and we remove them at our peril. Sure, technology and the internet may plug a gap for a while, but the learning habitats would soon disappear. One of the greatest superpowers we have is to provide a different perspective.
Secondly, as a teacher, I’m aware of the unintended consequences that my actions have. Choosing to focus on particular topics, or explore particular perspectives, can lead to unplanned consequences. Staff rooms are full of anecdotes that illustrate this. To me, this means schools must not only be about learning core knowledge, or having to remember facts and figures (although these are the foundation of all that follows). In order to really succeed, we should be teaching our classes how to disagree and question us. We over plan at our peril.

The other definition of rewilding that interests me is the rewilding of our own lives. I believe the two processes are closely intertwined — if we have spaces on our doorsteps in which nature is allowed to do its own thing, in which it can be to some extent self-willed, driven by its own dynamic processes, that, I feel, is a much more exciting and thrilling ecosystem to explore and discover, and it enables us to enrich our lives, to fill them with wonder and enchantment. Link

Is your curriculum full of JONK? Do you provide linear learning that suits your style and perspective? Do you provide a dynamic journey that responds to the world around you? Does it matter?

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