nature play

FLOW Learning as Sound Doctrine

I expect that one of these evenings I’ll leave class thinking, I finally experienced that “dud” – but it hasn’t happened yet! Last night was an equally thrilling look into Joseph Cornell’s FLOW Learning method and how one naturalist learned (through trial and error) how it brings life to the classroom.

I had already been exposed to this idea before in the Introductory to Forest School course by this same naturalist. Her top recommendations for reading were Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature and a small volume from Joseph Cornell called Sharing Nature with Children. I’ll admit that when the Cornell book arrived, it wasn’t very impressive. Small and older (and only costing around $3.00 from a used book dealer) I didn’t give it much thought, but stuck it in my ever growing pile of things to read. Last night I was convinced that I was completely mistaken in my assessment of this little jewel!

“Nature Leslie,” as she says she is known to her students and families, recounted trying traditional methods of hiking and educating young children only to experience frustration. Her complete transparency was one of the most helpful things I’ve ever experienced in a class. Allowing herself to “be wrong” in front of us, she then shared how using FLOW Learning and teaching through playing games instead had transformed her experience as a guide.

As she led us through Cornell’s four-step method, she then explained simple games she matched with the “flow” at this point of a session appropriate the the age, energy level, and theme of the session. My heart and brain came more alive with each and every game she shared. At the end of the evening, I came downstairs and shared some of the ideas with Jason. His response to a focused attention activity involving birds was, “Oh, I’m trying that! You think I won’t?”

I left the evening feeling empowered as Forest School Leader. I’m not the least bit worried now about what I would “do” with a group of kids, and I’m more excited than I’ve ever been about the future of Sparrow’s Nest Play. Special thanks to the Forest School Teacher Institute and to “Nature Leslie” for her time, talents and energy!