The burgeoning education model of forest school is reconnecting children with nature

Words and photos by Bruce Willey

“The best classroom and the richest classroom is roofed only by the sky.” — Margaret McMillan

The connection between nature and humans has never been so fraught or frail. With rapid technological wonders vying for our attention spans, the weedy wonders of nature have, for many, fallen by the wayside. And there’s a name for it: nature-deficit disorder.

Nature-deficit disorder has come to define children who spend too much time indoors, dependent on screens and a life shaped by a digitized reality. The titles of best-selling books like Last Child in the Woods and Balanced and Barefoot attest to the growing worry amongst child psychologists and parents alike that attention-deficit disorder, depression, and obesity — to name a few — can be correlated with a disconnection to nature.

Enter the forest school …