Trees in the classroom? The case for greenery EVERYWHERE.

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Why obsess about re-wilding schools? Because nature make kids better. Again, from the the fantastic book How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature, by the paleontologist Scott D. Sampson:

Plants are good for you, too.... Even a few trees can make a real difference. A remarkable set of studies looked at the effects of trees on residents of two high-rise housing complexes in a low-income Chicago neighborhood. 

Compared with residents whose building was surrounded by barren ground, those living in a building with a vew of stands of trees enjoyed substantially lower levels of agression, violence, and reported crime, along with increased effectiveness managing life issues. 

Greenery makes a difference. Being around trees, grasses, and shrubs makes us feel more at ease.

The benefits have been shown in kids, too: Sampson cites a study demonstrating reduced stress, reduced depression, improved concentration, and improved problem-solving skills.

These are, of course, the goals of nearly any school, especially of the traditionalist variety!

There's more! Sampsons continues:

Additional kid bonuses arising from nature interactions include greatly reduced symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), improved social interactions, a heightened ability to combat sickness, and a reduction or elimination of bullying. 

Greenery, then, could help a school achieve progressivist schools!

And, finally:

Compared to kids confined indoors, children who regularly play in nature show heightened motor control — including balance, coordination, and agility.

They tend to engage more in imaginative and creative play, which in turn fosters language, abstract reasoning, and problem-solving skills, together with a sense of wonder....

Play in outdoor settings also exceeds indoor alternatives in fostering cognitive, emotional, and moral development. 

Holy aboriculture, Batman! These are many of our highest goals in starting a new kind of school!

So: filling and surrounding a school with nature seems likely to help us create schools for human flourishing. (Almost makes you think we weren't designed to spend our time in cinder-block rooms lit by flourescent lights, eh?)

But the question still remains: how can we do it?

Stay tuned.

Brandon Hendrickson

Seattle, WA