Sailing the great outdoors
Two teachers whose passion is get children outside to learn found themselves sailing the great outdoors as a unique learning experience.
Robert and Elizabeth Hale-MacKinnon drove down to Williamsburg from central Virginia to sail on the York River. They teach eighth and fourth grade respectively at the Charlottesville Waldorf School, in the Montessori tradition. Their related passion is the Heartmoor Farm Education Centre.
Elizabeth said, “We’re located outside Charlotttesville. The name of the farm has the heart moored to the land. We take groups of children to show them the land. Teachers talk about child development, and that’s what we do. The founder of the Montessori School wrote about the advantages of living on a farm to become strong and healthy. We’re giving students a living experience to learn what it means to become a thinking person.”
The website picks up the theme: “Heartmoor Farm Education Centre is a private full-time academic adolescent program based upon the writings of Dr. Maria Montessori. It is also offers agricultural research, alternative building, and appropriate technology programs for youth ages 12-15. Located in Kents Store in Fluvanna County, Heartmoor is surrounded by 300 acres of private woodland not owned by the school.”
Elizabeth found it challenging to learn how to sail while explaining the farm. “It’s really hard to concentrate on the instructions when I’m trying to talk,” she laughed. She picked up the helm perfectly and set a true course in ideal winds of 10 mph.
“We show children how to start overcoming the physical weakness and lackadaisical behavior that comes four spending hours in front of the TV. And the children love to see and interact with the animals. We have bees and chickens, two pigs and a couple of goats.
Too much tehnology
“At the Waldorf School, we don’t teach with computers or laptops. When parents come in they’re surprised to see chalk boards, like when they were growing up. Children learn to think.”
Robert took Maezie up to the bow to see the scenery from a different perspective. On the farm, he shows children the elements of woodworking. “I like to talk about technology. What do we really need? Is technology taking us away from society? What is the appropriate amount of technology?”
He finds the farm experience provides a certain amount of life coaching, to achieve balance in one’s life. “A scholar wrote about it in the context of Attention Deficit Disorder. Too many children suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder. They need more Vitamin N.”
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