A uniQUE pedagogy FOR A UNIQUE generation of kids
The Nature Mediator, a rare and precious role.
Are our students still connected to the real, living world ?
Let’s observe and listen to them when they are outside:
Our students tick one box or more?
Nature connection diagnosis grid ©
Do you want to know more about the Nature connection diagnosis grid ?
By accompanying children from schools and extra-curricular organisations into nature, Aurélia Chevreul-Gaud became aware of the unique requirements of this new generation of children and their new way of life :
- home territory (house and school) in an urbanised environment, away from larger and wilder spaces
- growing imbalance between time spent connecting with the real world (nature) and time spent connected with the virtual world (screens)
- circle of educators more at ease indoors or completely disconnected, whether parents, school teachers or extra-curricular providers
- or educators connected with nature but lacking the tools to adapt to the level of disconnection among the children
- and who, across the board, regularly confront children with serious questions on the destruction of nature, global warming, even though these children only rarely have direct experience with nature. These are serious, anxiety-provoking questions whose solution is often beyond their reach.
A pedagogy at the opposite end of eco-anxiety
As a result of these changes to our way of life, children’s relationship with nature is now based on a range of emotions, from total ignorance to deep distress, and the belief that any contact could be harmful to themselves… and to nature!
We encounter more and more students who have internalised the idea that nature is fragile and that touching it, brushing up against it, being among it, can only harm it.
They become paralysed by this fear while we need this future generations to rediscover its wisdom: a whole, made up of numerous interdependent elements which balance each other out.
“We need the adults of the future to be capable of spontaneous creativity to solve environmental challenges. To lead us to solutions which are effective, efficient and holistic, avoid delusion and the false truths that are everywhere these days.” – Aurélia Chevreul-Gaud
We need this creativity to be founded on a deep and instinctive understanding of how living things work.
There is an urgent need to provide children with a nature-based education, founded on an appropriate pedagogy for outdoor educators and teachers. A pedagogy that allows them to reconnect children with nature in a way that is balanced, deep and long-lasting.
Aurélia Chevreul-Gaud have drawn on her experience and expertise in change management and nature education to design a practical and pragmatic pedagogy. It aims to repair children’s altered connection with nature, while taking into account the reality of their lived experience.
This pedagogy is a change-making pedagogy based on the teacher or the educator becoming a mediator between the child and nature. They work with the students wherever they can reach them – often at school – or figuratively – in their interests, their talents, and also their limitations.
7 gateways to reconnect children with nature
The 7 Connection Gateways © is a pedagogy based on education WITH nature (listen to the podcast LEARNING IN OR WITH NATURE ? LET’S PLAY WITH WORDS !).
The 7 connection gateways are paths we take to create a connection between the interior world of the child and their spheres of interest, and nature.
This outdoor teaching pedagogy uses different access points to meet the child’s initial affinity and to gently reduce their reluctance to spend time in nature.
Each of these gateways leads the child to explore and then to wonder at nature.
The complementary nature of these gateways means that students can expand their horizons and interests towards the other gateways, gradually connecting in a deep and lasting way with the living world.
These 7 gateways are complementary and holistic.
“They recognise the child, not just as an individual with thoughts, but:
- As a whole − made up of a body, emotions and an intellect
- As an entity which is both social (other children) and biological (other living beings)”
The complementary nature of these gateways invites children to discover the body-emotion-spirit-environment integrity.
Between them, these 7 connection gateways take account of the interests, talents and know-how of most adult educators. They therefore provide a zone of proximal development for introducing children to nature, beginning with the gateways which are most accessible and most natural to them.
The holistic use of the 7 gateways lead more experienced educators to extend and consolidate their outdoor education, their impact and their own connection to nature.
Educators at the heart of the pedagogy
Just as it is impossible to teach a child a new language simply by watching TV, it is impossible to establish an authentic, deep and lasting connection with nature without the intervention of an adult educator.
We act as a mediator between the children and nature and are, ourselves, closely connected with nature.
“For example, a child who deems a mushroom «disgusting», may seek to destroy it if unguided. Accompanied by a mediator, the child is still entitled to find it disgusting, or funny, or beautiful, or creepy… The child is invited to consider that other living beings might find us humans strange or unappetising or that other living beings might consider the mushroom a rather appealing breakfast and feed on it. Eventually, the child will come to understand that the mushroom deserves to live and they will choose not to destroy it.”
In this way, our role is to re-establish a relationship between children and nature, drawing on several principals of mediation.
Imitation and learning by example are the earliest and most effective ways that children learn. Our presence as a role model who is an attentive and enthusiastic «explorer» is therefore central to our pedagogy.
There’s no greater joy than sharing our spontaneous emotions and the genuine wonder that a discovery about ourselves, others and the nature around us can bring!
A sober pedagogy
The 7 gateways pedagogy is centred around the knowledge of the teacher or educator; it is simple, and requires few material resources. The main thing is to wear comfortable clothing adapted to your own needs and the needs of the children.
In this way, the pedagogy allows outdoor educators, to recreate an authentic connection between the students and their natural environment: to get to know one another, to become more familiar with one another, and to “appreciate” each other. This is why the pedagogy encourages us to conduct our explorations in nature spots local to the children so that they are as free as possible to come and explore them. They therefore learn to discover and take in the richness of the nature which surrounds them.
Life-changing rituals in the pedagogy
Getting to know and appreciate someone requires time and regular contact. The same goes for the natural world.
“It’s only possible to identify changes in it, and have experiences which challenge, amuse or provoke emotion in us, if we regularly spend time with it.”
The differences become even clearer if we always go on the same day of the week or at the same time… rather than flit from one time to another.
Rituals help regularity, and the 7 Connection Gateways pedagogy offers highly meaningful rituals to deepen the children’s experiences over time. Time is therefore a precious commodity in a pedagogy which creates space for immersion and flow as well as creativity and mistake making…
The pedagogy created by Aurélia Chevreul-Gaud is inspired by in-depth research.
What is a balanced, deep and lasting connection with nature ?
Aurélia Chevreul-Gaud relies on the work of Nisbet, Zelenski and Murphy’s scale, to explain connection with nature:
- Feeling at ease in nature, i.e. free to express one’s creativity, sensitivity, emotions etc. without feeling uncomfortable oneself or uncomfortable about causing damage to the area of nature you are in,
- Being fully aware of nature, i.e. capable of finely perceiving all its richness using all the senses, being conscious of it
- Identifying with nature, i.e. considering and feeling affinity for other living beings and their various characteristics and instinctively understanding that they interact with one another and with us.
A deep connection is an intense connection with nature which involves all our senses, arousing strong emotions and stimulating our intellectual curiosity.
“This connection is balanced when it is based on consideration and knowledge and not on fear. It is balanced when we are aware of the effects we have on nature and of the effect nature has on us.”
It is lasting when the two previous conditions are met and regularly fulfilled.
About Embodied cognition