I grew up in a place that was especially outdoors-friendly-- Burlington, Vermont. Not only did my family take advantage of every opportunity to spend time outdoors at home, but every vacation we took revolved around the outdoors-- the ocean, lakes, woods. We had a good-sized backyard with a huge willow tree that I would climb and spend hours in, and a garden and a deck in the back that we spent most of the warm-weather days on. We went to the beach, to the park, to the woods, and to parks all over Vermont. At the time, I might not have always wanted to go, but looking back I'm thankful we did. I remember spring evenings playing catch, summer mornings at the beach, and fall days picking apples.
So these days, I'm thinking about my connection to the outdoors more and more. Living in a city such as Jeonju, with a nice but small river, some small parks but nothing really big or nice makes me feel the need to get out of town every weekend. I'm used to nature. I need it.
I always feel bad for people who don't have this strong connection to nature, to the outdoors. Although maybe it would make life in a city easier. But I think it's so important, especially for kids, to get out into nature. To get dirty. To explore. To hug a tree. :) Climb a mountain. Explore a tide pool.
In spring, there's a certain time of day I feel like I need to be at softball practice. Not need to like I might get in trouble if I don't go. But need to like a part of me just needs to be outside, working hard, getting dirty and doing something active. (Man. Just writing about it makes me sad. I'd better find a rec team in DC next year.)
More importantly, as I'm sitting in my office on this very warm spring day in Korea, sun coming in the window, I feel like I'm a student again on one of those spring days when everyone begs the teacher to hold class outside. And then I see my students, here from 3:45-7. Missing the best part of the day. They should be outside. Because I'm pretty sure I gained more from running around outside all afternoon than I would have in a classroom. But that's a concept that's yet to catch on here. In the meantime, I'll remain frustrated at the system. I'm thinking of letting my class outside for 10 minutes today, if we finish all our work, and I probably will. I'm just pretty sure I'll get told I can't do that anymore in a day or so. But I think it's worth it. If I wasn't already leaving in a few weeks, and therefore don't want to cause any more trouble, I'd have the whole class outside. Just once. Learn names of trees and plants. Play a playground game. But it won't happen. I just hope their parents take them places on the weekends.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for taking me places.