Nature Pedagogy Models
The wheel’s depiction of the changing seasons is a metaphor for our transitions in life. Broadly speaking, the winter is the darker time and more internal, while summer is lighter and more external.
We all have moments that are inward, and moments that are external. We have emotions that are personal and hidden, and those that are easily shared. There is wisdom in knowing that as we grow up, we are inevitably going to have difficult times that leave scars, yet we can transform challenging emotional memories into the ability to help others, or influence and inform our values and future choices we make.
Nature reminds us that everything changes, and nothing stays the same; there is never this same moment again. We are nature. Our evolution and psychology have co-developed with nature.
The task, as we move around the wheel of life, is to grow beyond our self-centredness, me and mine (and our own family) and move often painfully to a new perspective of we and us (the wider family and community) – as Daniel Siegel puts it, the mwe.
Nature Cycles and Human Development
Nature pedagogy is best framed within nature-centric models that place the human within the circle of life. We will now propose some simple models that link our human nature with an integrated place-based philosophy.
Circular models help us as practitioners to reclaim this work within a connective, natural system. They provide a template upon which to offer experiences, big perspectives, activities and planning that aim to inspire our learners. These ‘maps’ give us a helpful foundational worldview upon which all good nature education rests.
Although applying indigenous earth-based models to modern education can be problematic, there is much to be learned from these maps which lead us to feel a deeper connection to nature.
In this model we use the metaphor of the daily rotation of the earth and seasons to link to the stages of human life (found in Celtic, Greek, Eastern and Native American cultures, to name a few). The properties of each direction very much correspond to our ‘life stages’, the position of the sun in the sky as well as its general position through the seasons corresponding to our development.