Children respond to call of the wild

Tonia is mentioned in this Sydney Morning Herald article:

Photo by Liam Turbett – South Coyote Buttes.

Outdoor education enables individuals to connect with nature, with other people, and with themselves. Associate Professor Tonia Gray, from the University of Wollongong, says: “We should be inspiring a sense of wonderment in our students, but many parents instil a fear of nature and the outdoors – clearing a path through it by killing every spider or insect in their way.”

Gray refers to ”the other three Rs”, namely relationship, resilience and reflection. “These are overlooked in the modern curriculum and we don’t teach these concepts well at all, but outdoor education lends itself, beautifully, to doing just that.

”The main aim is life ownership – you own your mistakes as well as your successes. Outdoor education is the vehicle for teaching life ownership – when you are in the bush using a compass and you make a wrong turn, you only have yourself to blame – not another student, not the teacher. There are consequences for your action, or inaction,” she says.

Read the rest at:

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6 Responses to Children respond to call of the wild

  1. Clarie Lisle says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I am in awe myself of nature’s calming properties when working with my Year 4 class outside. In a standard classroom students are distracted by each other. In an outdoor classroom students are distracted by nature’s calming presence. Getting connected with oneself, each other and the natural world is how its meant to be.

  2. HI Clarice, I love the way you re-word the notion of distraction by nature rather than distraction by other students which is the one we hear about all the time in classrooms. It usually has such a negative connotation! What happens to your kids when they are distracted by nature? Can you see it in behavioural terms? Embodied terms? Emotional terms? I know you have set up some special places specifically within the playground- I’d love to know more about these!
    Cheers, Carol

    • Clarice Lisle says:

      Hi Carol,
      When working in the natural world my students display a calmness that emanates from their soul. Nature is a powerful tonic, especially for those students who are upset or unhappy with their circumstance. We have an outdoor learning sanctuary which was built by the School community for the community. It is set up as an outdoor classroom in a setting of local native plants. It has a pond bursting with frog song, a storytelling area and kitchen garden. To watch the students function in this context is amazing. Yes, they become embodied within this world. I and my parents notice a significant difference in student behaviour as the Year progresses.

  3. Katherine says:

    Nature is the perfect tonic. Research into the positive effect of trees on creating positivity and mood calming effects. Interesting is research on the positive effect of tree lined streets on reducing speed (

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