Open your eyes, not your device.

Open your eyes, not your device.

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to go whale-watching in New Zealand. Amazing! Sperm whales just off the coast of the South Island. I have lots of photos, including those classic ones of the tail fin of a diving whale with the mountains in the background. I have the photos, but I can’t really remember seeing the whales. Fast forward a few years and I was travelling on a motorised canoe along a small river in the Bolivian pampas. It was raining heavily so there were no other boats about, and all our kit, including cameras, was packed away. As we rounded a bend in the river, about to pass beneath an overhanging branch, there was a sight I will never forget. A jaguar. Standing on the branch, still and proud. It looked at us, slowly turned, and walked back into the jungle. I have no photo or video footage, but I can remember every second, every look, every movement, every emotion. That was 20 years ago. Fast forward 15 years or so, and I was at a concert in Rome – Bruce Springsteen at the Circo Massimo. Wonderful city, stunning location and my husband’s favourite artist. We stood for hours. The band came on, and I watched the first 10 minutes of the concert through other people’s phones. So frustrating. And it made me think about the whales and the jaguar. We seem to be so busy trying to record and commit events to technology that we sometimes fail to commit them to memory. Yes photos and videos are wonderful to look back on, great as memory triggers, but at the expense of the memory itself?
For me, teaching and learning is about creating memorable experiences, experiences that make learning contextual and relevant, experiences that children can respond to, keep with them, and draw on for inspiration now, and into their future. For this reason, I am a great advocate for learning
outside the classroom, and have spent almost years doing just that. I see every day how learning outside can benefit children and young people, in so many ways. Think about your most memorable experience as a child? Or your most memorable lesson? Where was it? Who was there? What did you hear, smell, see? How did you feel? The classroom can be a very powerful place to learn, but being outside of it can be even more so. So why not go outside for that lesson. You can still deliver the curriculum, but how much can you enhance it? Take the time to look, listen, smell, taste, feel and talk. Create experiences and memories which you don’t need technology to see.

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