“Education isn’t the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”
The above words, written by the late poet William Butler Yeats, suggests a philosophy of education with which our instructors deeply resonate.
At Feather and Frond Forest School, our instructors help fuel the “fire" that burns amongst each student through a creative mentoring approach known as “Coyote Mentoring”. This teaching method was developed by Jon Young and Wilderness Awareness School.
Using Coyote Mentoring, we meet students where they are at. We observe each child’s awareness and skills, their passions, their gifts, and their edges. We hold space for our students to learn, grow, and stretch into their edges by asking them questions that prompt deeper observation, awaken a sense of wonder, and draw out their innate wisdom. We aim to inspire a slowing down and a deeper listening to the wisdom and the magic that nature has to offer us. We model the use of our senses to deepen our interactions with the natural world, and we encourage our students to do so as well.
We aim to empower our students on their learning journey by sharing with them the tools to observe and examine nature more deeply so that they can come to their own conclusions about the natural world. We encourage our students to look to field guides to deepen their understanding of nature and share their reflections with their community as a means of integrating the learning experience.
We share stories that teach lessons, offer wisdom, and inspire curiosity. Most of all, we have lots and lots of fun with our students! We facilitate nature awareness games and activities that not only tap into children’s passions, but also provide opportunity for them to actively engage in their environment and sharpen their skills in the process.
The Learning Culture
We strive to create a nature-based learning culture where our mentors engage in projects using materials that have been mindfully harvested from the land. Combining our visionary skills with our own two hands to create arts and crafts, tools, structures, fire, clothing, food and medicine, etc. from nature is a means of engaging in primitive technologies similar to those that our ancestors used for thousands of years. This earth-centered learning environment offers a stark contrast to modern society’s technologically-immersed culture.
Creating nature-inspired projects from beginning to completion by our mentors is such a powerful demonstration of the human capacity for creativity and willful expression, which plays an important role in early learning and beyond. When children witness adults interacting with nature in these ways, they become curious and engaged. Seeds of inspiration are planted. Our mentors then help nurture these seeds by directly and intentionally facilitating earth-based projects for students to complete themselves. These projects may vary based on interest, skill level, local ecology and seasonality.
We believe that this nature-based cultural mentoring approach leads to deep embodied learning and the formation of lifelong connections amongst the entire community of mentors, students, and the natural world.