Several centers in Spain prioritize contact with nature and sustainability as part of their educational program
Children spend less time in nature than before, which affects their physical and mental state, experts say. And schools can reduce this problem. There are schools that include the environment as key in their educational programs and facilities. These centers count below their experience and offer advice for all schools to incorporate more of nature as part of their educational program with young children.
Forest school: nature is the classroom
"Schools have to dare to naturalize their spaces", suggest from schools that include the environment in their educational program
Bosquescuela is present in Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Catalonia, Euskadi, Galicia, Madrid and Valencia. These educational centers that are committed to the environment incorporate the European model of Outdoor Early Childhood Education in Spain.
According to Silvia Corchero de la Torre, trainer and head of development and communication at Bosquescuela, in these schools “nature is the classroom and the teaching materials come from the natural environment. Children grow up receiving all the benefits of nature for their physical, emotional and cognitive development. They learn by living real experiences in an environment that prioritizes respect for their learning rhythms and their needs: freedom, movement, respect, listening, expression, play, communication, etc. ”. A basic pillar of these centers is free play in nature. This video explains their educational model.
Fuhem: schools for a more just and sustainable society
The Fuhem Foundation "promotes a more just, democratic and sustainable society." His task is focused on two areas of work: ecosocial work (with research and dissemination of these issues) and educational. Its three schools and educational centers in Madrid span from Early Childhood Education to Baccalaureate and also Vocational Training. Its patios contain natural elements, the dining rooms have ecological and healthy menus, its purchasing policy follows environmental and social criteria, and extracurricular and specific activities with eco-social content, such as World Environment Day, are celebrated throughout the course.
However, these elements, although important, "are not the ones that make the qualitative changes," says Luis González, coordinator of Fuhem's eco-social educational project. To achieve this, they have included the environment at the heart of teaching practice: the content worked in the classrooms and the method.
Gredos San Diego: schools in the forest and the sea
Gredos San Diego is a cooperative that has eight educational centers in the Community of Madrid and soon another will open in Costa Rica. In addition, it has two nature classrooms in Ávila and Segovia (Classroom in Nature the Milky Way and Sendas del Riaza Hostel) where students from Infant to Secondary they participate in a week-long environmental education program.
This educational cooperative, likewise, has been developing since 2013 a training, promotion, dynamization and environmental dissemination program in the Sierra del Rincón Biosphere Reserve, which includes visits to Hayedo de Montejo. And since 2015, it also has the Mar Bitácora classroom, which allows students to travel by boat through the Mediterranean Sea. Baccalaureate and Vocational Training.
"The centers integrate environmental education into teaching practice with various projects inside and outside the classroom, environmental education, sustainable development, as well as the green economy", says Marta López Abril, head of the environment department of the pedagogical area.
There are also outstanding initiatives outside of Spain. Among them, the experience of Green School center in Bali (Indonesia), where sustainability is the main axis of their teaching practice and has been a determining factor in the design of their facilities.
Another is the Eco-Schools network, which has about 49,000 centers in 64 countries from the five continents, 530 of them in the Network of Eco-schools in Spain. Students from different countries of the world thus share experiences and interest in the conservation of the environment. One of them is the “Thick Jumper Day” initiative, which consists of turning off the heating during a school day, during which students come with a thick jumper and carry out activities to raise awareness about climate change. In Spain the students of the CEIP Teresa de Calcutta Eco-school (San Sebastián de los Reyes, Madrid) They recorded this video where they explain it:
Tips for a more environment in schools
The experts from Fuhem and Gredos San Diego consider it essential to integrate the environment and sustainability both in the curriculum and in the daily life of the centers. We must set "objectives that are evaluated on these issues and modify the method in this sense," proposes Luis González. "Given the current disconnection with nature that exists, it is important that educational centers generate experiences that promote knowledge and direct contact of students with natural environments, encouraging involvement and search for solutions," adds López Abril.
Corchero de la Torre highlights, for his part, that “educational centers have to dare to naturalize their spaces, especially the courtyards, and where students can experience free play, especially in Infantile, and live the environment. Why learn about a plant with a book in a classroom and not go down to the patio and see it live? ”.
Environmental Education in Latin America
In Latin America there are very particular conditions in relation to the origin and development of Environmental Education; Although they are framed in the climate that all world conferences printed, there was a lag in the measures that have been taken, with respect to the guidelines emanating from those meetings (González, 2000).
We find a teaching staff not prepared to take on the challenges of EE, but above all, with a political action that collides with those challenges and is that EE is a political issue, which requires non-educational decision-making, which They include the economic and that should drag the educational system; so there is no surprise if EA attempts in America (not including Cuba, which is a separate case) are not effective.
However, worldwide advances in EE are remarkable, despite the few years that have elapsed since 1972, and EE is playing its social role, whether at a formal or non-formal level (as it has been in the past). case of many places in Latin America).
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By ALEX FERNÁNDEZ MUERZA