Out of the classroom and back to nature

2014-10-13 00:00

MUD and rain made for ideal conditions for high-spirited Cordwalles Preparatory School boys on Friday who hiked from their classrooms into their forest for the opening of their new environmental classroom.

Friday saw the culmination of the two-year construction project of an environmental classroom at the school. The aim of the classroom is to get the boys back into nature and provide a balance in this “screen-exposed” world.

Deputy principal John Huggett said the environmental classroom was envisaged about 20 years ago.

“The idea came from the boarders who used this forest during weekends and also slept here in makeshift structures. So our environmental classroom evolved from that. The purpose mainly is to get the boys into the wild, with nature, with our key goal of developing leaders in mind,” he said.

Built with funds raised by the Parents Association through the aQuelle Mudman competition held annually at Midmar Dam, the classroom concept was helped along by Francois du Toit, of the African Conservation Trust, a school committee headed by Huggett, and building contractor Charl Barnard.

Huggett said the curriculum had been structured to include teaching and learning elements that will happen from and at the environmental classroom.

“The use of this classroom has now been built into our curriculum. A major portion of natural science and social science that includes map work, ecology, and even art will take place from here. Again, all of this goes towards our goal of developing leaders, getting back to nature and balancing screen time. It’s totally self-sustainable, as we have no electricity or water here — we aim to use water tanks to collect rain water and fire to cook our food here,” said Huggett.

He said the classroom would be a great advantage to boys’ best practice of experiential and tactile learning styles.

Other plans for the area include an obstacle course that will develop communication and leadership skills, a fire boma and cooking area, sustainable vegetable garden and a medicinal garden.

The opening ceremony, which was blessed by the Reverend Ron Nicholson, also saw the school celebrating Arbor Day (a bit late) by planting 135 trees sponsored by the pupils.

“Our goal is to attract indigenous birds, butterflies and other wildlife back to the forest. Every time we fell plantation trees, we replace with indigenous plants,” said Huggett. — Witness Reporter.

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