by Ben Klasky, President and CEO, IslandWood
As I entered my first year in the classroom, a veteran teacher offered me some advice: “Don’t smile until December.” This was her not-so-subtle hint at how to maintain order in school. And so I began teaching with a clear vision for my class: my students would sit still at their desks in uniform rows, fully focused as I taught at the blackboard. When they wished to speak, they’d politely raise their hands. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to realize that my vision was outdated and deeply flawed, because my students’ natural inclination was to move, discover, and play.
I now manage IslandWood, which is one of the nation’s largest environmental education organizations. Each year, we serve 175 schools at multiple locations throughout the Pacific Northwest – getting tens of thousands of kids up and away from their chairs, outside exploring so they can learn more effectively. A big part of our work is also training teachers to deliver “experiential” education and become more comfortable with allowing kids to physically move while learning.