The fact that
mother earth is a great teacher from whom we can learn much is no
secret. But this weekend I learned that she could teach many things
including the English language.
Two friends and their children spent an entire day with me up in
the treetops. Because climbing a tree is serious business, we spent
30 minutes selecting the right tree and 3 hours of practice using
safety ropes, harnesses, tree slings and other gear before we were
ready to begin. Our tree top destination was 23 meters above the
forest floor and it took us about 30 minutes to get everyone up
and safely perched at the treetop.
was settled, the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, "Hey,
do you know the expression 'Up a tree'? That is what we are! It
means to be in trouble without an escape or solution. Many animals
like bears climb trees for safety and won't descend until the danger
leaves." One of the children said that they felt like a bear
hiding in a tree and we all burst into a very lively cultural exchange,
with a conversation about animal expressions and situations. We
discussed the expression 'Busy Beaver' which originated because
a beaver's front teeth never stop growing. They must busy themselves
cutting down trees and chewing wood in order to wear their teeth
down or their teeth would become so big that they would be unable
to move their jaws. The time just flew, as we shared English and
Japanese expressions that had to do with nature as well as lots
of chatter, forest appreciation and bird watching.
expressions we quoted are:
away money." This stems from watching squirrels dart all over
the forest gathering nuts and pinecones. They can only carry a precious
few on each trip, but by the end of autumn, they will have saved
as many as 10,000 nuts for the long winter months.
like rabbits." Two rabbits, over a period of three years are
capable of producing 13 million descendents.
someone." Foxes build many entrances and exits to and from
their den to escape getting caught.
I was very enlightened
at the fact that the children up in the trees with us that day had
actually dropped out of school. They said (and believed), that they
The love of
learning has more to do with presentation than content and what
better learning atmosphere than Mother Nature. Currently, all over
the world, children are taking to the trees and actually doing just
as we did on that fun and enriching Saturday. They study in the
On a trip to
Oregon last year I witnessed local Elementary and Junior High Schools
holding some classes up in the trees. There is a very active Tree
Climbing International Association in America with hundreds of tree
In Japan, efforts
are being made to revamp the education system. I read that the education
ministry is going to try to bring more nature into the classroom.
spend lots of money on bringing animals and plants indoors, why
not funnel those funds and efforts into bringing The Classroom Out
Into Nature? Imagine if more schools adopted Mother Earth as a teacher
and let nature provide the classrooms. Let's head for the Trees!
P.S. I wrote
this article 18 meters in the air in a large Japanese Oak behind