BICS students from all grades celebrated David Suzuki's 75th birthday as one large group this week. On Tuesday, classes went on a nature walk paired with their buddy class and on Wednesday, students watched a webinar with Dr. Suzuki broadcast live to 200 schools across Canada.
Living in a world where even our smallest actions such as what to eat for a recess snack have global consequences, celebrating the life of not just a great Canadian but a great global citizen was a worthy purpose. A further purpose was to celebrate BICS' own history of environmental education and to emphasize the reality that despite the immense fortune of having the extraordinary backyard of BICS, we must be deliberate and mindful about actually enjoying and connecting with nature to develop our understanding of how nature affects us and how we affect nature.
BICS teachers created a lesson plan that all students could appreciate. On the nature walk, students were asked to stop and participate in an activity that encouraged them to become more mindful of their senses. Activities encouraged thoughts of what nature smells like, sounds like, its textures and sights, and the emotions nature allows us to feel when we switch from humans doing to humans being.
Thanks to former BICS teacher and now UBC instructor Cynthia Nicholson, our school was fortunate to have the support of 36 teacher candidates from UBC to help lead the groups. After each activity, students shared a word that came to mind as to what nature feels like which they shared with their group leader from. The responses were compiled into several Wordles which demonstrate the most common responses in the largest fonts.
Throughout the activities, students showed the virtues of joyfulness, demonstrating that one's enjoyment of activities is more dependent upon their attitude than the weather or even the activity itself, and creativity, by not picking the first word that came to mind to describe nature, but instead searching for the best word they could think of.
The simplest lessons in life are often the most important and there are many lessons that lend themselves well to learners of all ages, from kindergartners to Grade 7s, to adults of all ages. More, now than ever, even on an island with many parks and other natural spaces, we must be deliberate about going outside, about being mindful when we're there as to what we see, hear, touch, smell, and most importantly feel, and cherish the gifts that the beyond human world privileges us with.
David Suzuki has said, "We are the environment," a simple lesson and a fundamental truth, and one that we must be deliberate about learning and remembering.
SCOTT SLATER, BICS vice-principal