What do Emily Carr, Enid Blyton, and Meadowridge Students Share in Common?
Over the years, many generations from around the world have tried to capture the mysteries of nature.
Whether by poetry or prose, by photography or paint, the approaches are as varied as each artist's interpretation.
Little Red Riding Hood portrays a forest as a gauntlet of unforeseen dangers, while The Faraway Tree expresses the forest as enchanted, ready for untold stories. Canada's brooding forests, meanwhile, captured the attention of Emily Carr and The Group of Seven, who expressed their wonder in entire series of landscape paintings. It is most plausible that all these artists and authors—separated by distance and time—were directly inspired by forests and landscapes at some points in their lives; begging the question, what is it about forests that create mystery, creativity, and a sense of well-being?
"It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit."
Robert Louis Stevenson
I believe students in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP) have provided some insight into nature's allure. Throughout the year, during recess and after school, students are afforded time to enjoy the north forest and our gardens. Engaging in natural spaces has become embedded in Meadowridge's values and culture, and we've noticed a greater comfort and desire from students to explore the forest with their peers.
Grade 6 students enjoy the forest through games of tag, lying in wait behind a tree, feeling the rain-soaked moss through their pant legs and filtering the muchly forest floor through their fingers. Other students enjoy basking in the tranquil spaces, listening to the singing birds and the babbling creek, allowing themselves some calm amidst the swift flow of life. All these experiences contain something magical, a sort of feeling that is just out of reach—something that motivates creative expressions.
About the Author
James Willms is in his seventh year at Meadowridge School and currently co-instructs a grade 5 class and coordinates the Outdoor Experiential Ecological Education (OE3) program for the entire school. He has completed a graduate degree in Ecological Education and continuously looks for ways to collaborate with teachers; exploring with them, ways to integrate outdoor learning into their teaching practices. Over the past two years, James has been instructing undergraduate courses at Trinity Western University in their education program. James has travelled extensively, including teaching in Thailand for two years, and is now somewhat grounded by his rowdy boys, Trail and Albie.