Going on an I Don't Know walk
Thanks to teacher Cassie for writing this blog!
When I was first asked to write for Fresh Air Learning my initial thoughts and feelings were in the realm of “I don’t know enough about nature and outdoor education to share.”
Eager to help, however I agreed with the intention to offer something.
I often tell stories and express myself through pictures and videos. Though if I ever make a “How-to” video it is not likely to carry the tone of “let me show you how to do this,” but rather “I’m not sure how to do this, want to see me try?”
My approach towards children and life in general is one of curiosity and courage – it’s okay to not know.
So join me on this journey of not knowing. The next time you go for a walk with your child (or alone), rather than focus on all the things you know, why not look intimately and curiously at the things you don’t?
I love to look at an insect I’ve never seen before and marvel at its markings and shape, amazed that we’ve not yet met. Or if you see a tiny creature you do know the name of, perhaps look a little more closely than you have before – and deeply get to know it.
Image credit: Emkay
Looking at a sea of green I may credit myself for knowing a few of the names of the plants I see, possibly even knowing some of the uses! To have some familiarity with the life around me gives me a sense of agency. But I am humbled when I broaden my awareness to include all the leaves and greens I see that I don’t know – what I’ve never noticed with my eyes scanning from the salmonberry leaves to the elder leaves.
I take time to soak in nature’s diversity and give thanks to the abundance of life.
Looking up at the sky I wonder about the clouds. I notice all the different kinds and grasp at the complex processes involved in creating each shape. I love how some make the sky look like the ocean floor.
In terms of bringing this sort of reverence to children I encourage looking closely at things; anything you can observe. Bring their energy and hone in on one focal point that you can look at together. I use a tone of quiet fascination, discovery and curiosity, pointing at what I notice and asking what they notice.
Like, look at this clover – I had never noticed this before. The bottom of it almost looks like it has veins with blood, just like in our own body. And can you see all the tiny little hairs? What do you think those hairs are for? Perhaps we are more like a clover than we thought we were. Or check out this thorny branch I found... look at those colours and those markings... are the markings an expression of the plant or are they a trail made from some other organism?
I think it would be a great idea to regularly go on “I don’t know” walks and make note of all the different things you see that you’ve never noticed before. Search and see how easily you discover something your eyes have bypassed in the past. Perhaps draw pictures or make lists describing the things you saw.
It is incredible and yet still unsurprising that nature continues to have something new for me to see every day. It is a child’s normal to not know and be utterly amazed by something that an adult may have long since taken for granted. Continued curiosity, reverence and buoyant fascination is a gift we can offer to ours and our children’s experience in each moment. Spend some time intimately connecting to the small things and see how each is a unique expression of the vibrational.