Teacher Trainees from the IOE at Pertwood

As part of our collaboration with The UCL Institute of Education, Rod Sugden and I had the opportunity to take a small group of teacher trainees away on camp to Pertwood. Their words describe why Global Generation is committed to offering experiences in nature as a way of ensuring that, rather than being treated as an add-on, care for our planet and everything within it becomes foundational within teaching practice... writes Jane Riddiford.

The camp was funded by our Heritage Lottery Bees for a Better World project. We had a wonderful session with our beekeeper Brian McCallum from Urban Bees. We involved the teachers in many of the rituals that we have developed over the last 11 years at Pertwood; silent walks in the morning, freefall writing and storytelling. It was heartening to see the way the three senior Generators (youth leaders) who were with us were able to lead the way with these activities. Because the camp was focused on the soon-to-be primary school teachers, we also enjoyed the excuse to find dragon's breath and make fairy houses in the long grasses.

In many different ways the weekend revealed that when learning about bees, it helps to experience nature as ourselves. Below is some of the free fall writing that the teacher trainees wrote about their time at Pertwood...

As the car bumped over the dirt lane our huge bags knocking against our knees, a green expanse emerged just over the horizon. The sunset spilt over into the car and a feeling of belonging and anticipation filled me. The fast pace atmosphere left me and I felt at ease in the simplicity of nature.
Before breakfast we walked out of the camp to the stone circle.
Ironically the thick cover of wet, yet dreamlike mist clears my mind. It holds me and comforts me and guides me on, the dew clings to the webs and drips from the grass, magnifying the beauty it hangs from. The morning sun, piercing through the fog, creates a glare of brilliant orange covering the fields ahead. It touches my back and warms me from the cold night before. In that moment I realised we are not individual yet intertwined. Our footsteps mingle with the song of crickets and the song of bird. I feel the ground beneath me, my thoughts flow from that ground; I think I’ve been welcomed.
— Danielle Austin

This is what the land says to me...

Breathe and open your eyes. How can such beauty exist? How can we ignore the complexity of nature, just let it in, respect it and appreciate it. I feel the happiness around me, everyone sitting peacefully welcoming their thoughts. The trees are shuffling in the wind and drops of water are hitting my page. I want to tread carefully, I want to be here all day.
— Danielle Austin
Anchor yourself into the earth feel your roots run down deep and intertwine with mine. Feel the warmth from the sun and the power of the wind. It’s important to remember what is important.
— Jocelyn Bennet
You haven’t been around for long, but you have been away for too long. It’s easy for you to forget where you come from and where you need to go back to. It’s easy to get immersed in your routine and forget about me, all I do for you and all you can do for me. Remember to remember me.
— Mariana Costa
Forget all your worries in your life and let loose in my arms. Feel the light wind blowing on your face, listen to the birds and insects cohabiting with you and smell the freshness of green grass and trees around you. Be nice to the fragile yet wonderful creatures I made. The land is always here for you whenever you’d like to seek a piece of calmness and quietness and you will notice new and special things that you have not seen before.
— Christine Wong

My experience at Pertwood...

Pertwood is absolutely a magical place that is not polluted by modern buildings and vehicles. Arriving at the camp with butterflies in the stomach, yet after the weekend seeing real butterflies and interacting with nature, I learnt so much about outdoor learning and how creative and fun it can be and how it is possible to bring it back to the classroom to allow children enjoy nature and the environment we are surrounded in.
— Chrisine Wong
The activities were excellent - my favourite being making fairy houses and the listening to the bee man :) I’ve still kept hold of all the knowledge and hope to use it to help the bees in the future! I also thought the silent morning walks were magical and they really cleared my mind and magnified the beauty of our surroundings! The work global generation is doing inspired me to think more about my environmental impact and highlighted how important and powerful it can be to connect children to the environment, for their imagination, values and thoughts. So hopefully I can go from here and it will help towards my career as a teacher!
— Danielle Austin