Hi! This is a note from Kurt Heidinger, Executive Director of Biocitizen.
I’d like to explain how Field Environmental Philosophy (FEP) provides learning experiences that ramify and enhance traditional institutional and home-schooling education.
– And why you should be one of the first and founding parents to sign your child up for Our Place Summer School!
A day of FEP includes venturing off to investigate a place dense with natural and cultural history, say, Battery Park. Teachers treat the park as a text that can be read, and show students how to read it. The park is an environment that is constructed naturally (marine, climate, geology) and culturally (infrastructure, architecture, art, pedestrians, etc).
These elements are scrutinized, dated, touched, commented on, added together. They form narratives, for ex.: the West Battery was once an island but is now landlocked. Once opened to reading, the environment begs questions: What was the Battery for? Why did they make it landlocked? What is the story here?
Questions like these can be dreadfully boring, unless they’re part of a larger quest.
– And posed on the move with a forward momentum —>
Our Place Summer School walks the city, asking “what is this place”? What is NYC? What was it? What will it be? How do we fit into it?
For 5, 9am-3pm days we visit places that answer our questions. We raise new ones as we wander deeper into the city that is the story we live in, gathering more clues, stories, experiences – learning “our place”.
So parents: FEP trains students to read their environments.
The skill of reading environments is not usually taught, or tested on.
Yet it is key to inhabiting our world wisely. For, the more we know about “our place”—about how it functions and dysfunctions—the better we can cultivate its health.
FEP students become accustomed to seeing their environment not as a static background, but as a present creation, a work in progress they are a part of. The stories they read in their environment are theirs, and the narratives it contains includes their expressions. FEP teaches them they are active participants in this world. It teaches them that the narratives that make up the city—natural and cultural—are not static, are constantly morphing, and need their voices. History is theirs, the city its stage, their lines as yet unwrit.
I’ll be in Brooklyn next week, 4/29-5/3 preparing the FEP curricula and would love to meet you if you are interested in learning more about Our Place Summer School. You can call me @ 413.320.0522
On 5/2 we’ll have a meet up where/when in Prospect Park TBD.