How often have you enjoyed the wonders of a national park? Is it time to get outside for some R & R with nature? After all, it is the centennial since America began the National Park movement, with the support of the National Geographic Society. In fact, it is National Park Week, allowing free admission to 127 parks in the United States. National Geographic magazine has already published this year beautiful articles about the history and achievement of National Parks, and the benefits of nature on the human brain. I have a soft spot for National Geographic – reinforcing the power of science and exploration through storytelling to change the world. Natgeo.com/parks will further ‘explore the power of parks’ with digital content covering stories, videos, photographs and travel. There are great educational resources for teachers and for every monthly issue of National Geographic Travel there is a national park featured – it’s tempting to travel again.
I’ve been lucky to see quite a few National Parks around the world. It’s a great chance to explore the beauty and appreciation of the wilderness. For schools it’s not always easy to arrange a field trip to a National Park – or other wildlife centres. Essentially, the technology can transport us to that very spot on Earth. There is an abundance of growth in video games, films, documentaries, e-books, apps and websites. The list is gigantic. From my teaching experience, anything that engages the student with a computer screen works a treat. It’s about capturing that user interface with some gadget that really appeals to the younger generation. What approach should be taken for effective learning in classrooms for the future? Should we be designing more apps and e-books? Or simply, get the kids outside more? I’ve always remembered they loved that, a break from the classroom can be immensely therapeutic.
Recently, filmmaker David Bond presented a screening in Dunedin of his documentary ‘Project Wild Thing’. I was completely fascinated by this – how the idea came about and more importantly, what he decided to do about it. Driven by his concerned that children were spending too much time in front of screens at the expense of being outdoors, he was on a quest to discover more. Far from easy, his passion and determination enabled a documentary to succeed. Currently David is running a successful website with an associated blog, campaign and shop as well. Wild Network is on a mission to re-wild childhood. With over 27,000 members recorded on his website, he has been more than successful. It’s just ironic that this venture relies on technology so much.