Active Learners Blog
Snake eggs.
Snake eggs
In recent years a movement has been established in the United States often referred to as No Child Left Inside, which pokes fun at the concept of No Child Left Behind. The basic premise of this movement is a rejection of the increased focus on testing, coupled with a concentrated effort to reintroduce the out-of-doors as vital to the healthy growth and development of children.

In addition to the many daily opportunities for outside play, most of the children at the Antioch School go on a weekly hike in Glen Helen, the 1000-acre nature preserve across the street from our school. Our hikes are made up of walking, exploring, playing games, observation and self-expression through writing and drawing.

A larger purpose behind our Glen Helen excursions is based upon the philosophical notion that being outside, and specifically being in nature, is inherently good and necessary for healthy human growth and development. As the Art and Science teacher, I see many benefits of our weekly exposure to the natural environment of Glen Helen. Along with fresh air and exercise, the children and faculty hone their skills of observation while observing the subtle changes of both the local landscape and seasons and the flora and fauna. It allows children to shine in new and sometimes unexpected ways; in their demonstration of leadership skills or their knowledge of the natural world. It offers children an opportunity to play in a completely natural setting and experience risk-taking as they walk trails, cross creeks and climb rocks.

Our trips to the Glen serve as a source of inspiration as well. The Older Group children have Glen journals, which are used for recording observations, drawing and writing poems and stories. The Younger Group children keep a group journal in which they work collectively to record their Glen experiences.

The past school year in the Glen has been quite an amazing one. During our first Younger Group hike, the children found a box turtle crossing the trail and a clutch of snake eggs in a patch of moss. Throughout the course of the year, we have observed snakes, fish, crayfish, deer and many types of birds and have found animal tracks, leaves damaged from masticating insects and bones of departed animals. We experienced extreme cold on our weekly hikes and during the week-long school camp at the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center. In the spring we saw the truly awesome power of nature while hiking the following day after a major storm that graced our school’s end-of-year picnic and graduation. It was as if parts of the forest were literally scraped clean. Bridges were torn off their moorings or swept away. Piles of sand were deposited along the banks of Yellow Springs’ Creek and fish were left stranded in puddles on the trails. Thankfully, the children rescued many of the fish and held on the spot memorial services for those who died.

It is hard to know what will happen in time but I hope that through their intimate, evolving experiences in nature, Antioch School children may develop a sense of connection and stewardship for the natural world. As we move forward in an increasingly digital and virtual society, I believe that these kinds of authentic connections with the natural world will gain deeper importance and become increasingly vital for the health and well-being of humans and the earth.  

This article was written by Brian Brogan and printed in the 2014 Active Learners Journal published by the Antioch School.

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If you have questions, would like more information about the Antioch School, please use the form below or call  9 3 7 . 7 6 7 . 7 6 4 2.   Our address is 1160 Corry Street, P.O.Box 242, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387.