he 2020 Class 11 Deep Ecology Main Lesson has been one of the most exciting and innovative Outdoor Education experiences I have ever been involved in. With the cancellation of our usual 6 day Deep Ecology canoeing expedition, myself and a group of dedicated Deep Ecology leaders worked hard over the holidays to re imagine this experience into a school based 3 week Main Lesson. What initially seemed like an impossible task has turned out to be an amazing experience in its own right with sessions allowing participants to transcend physical boundaries and step into spaces of deep connection and inward reflection.
Much of what has made this experience so rich, so relaxed and such a success, has been the time and effort put into creating a sense of place and feeling of ownership by every student and teacher in the space. With a lot of effort, good will and shared energy, the class has used rakes, ropes, logs, rocks, wheel barrows and tarpaulins to turn an overgrown corner of the school into a Base Camp that rivals many bush land settings.
Accompanying the log seats that were dragged into position, students have brought in camp chairs and cushions. Our camp fire has taken the form of an old wock, dug into the sandy soil and surrounded by limestone rocks. Marri and Jarrah trees provide shade, rigging features and a soundscape for wind and birds to pass through their branches and play amongst their leaves. The ground provides leaves and sticks for our fire, zamia’s bring vibrant green beauty and the sandy soil creates space to sit and connect with the Earth.
Our classes have been full of experiences and the time always flies by. What feels like 2 hours in the classroom, is like 1 hour outside. Even so, we have been able to find a rhythm that allows for focus and action, but also space to breath out. Some of these experiences have included: camp fires, bush walks, ephemeral mandalas, experiential trust activities, meditations, future visioning, deep listening and many varied class discussions.
The actual Deep Ecology content follows the Work That Reconnects spiral, covering 4 unique but inextricably liked stages:
Coming From Gratitude: Explores everything we currently love in our lives, from family to open spaces, good food and sunshine.
Honouring The Pain of the Earth: Acknowledges what is not okay in the world and encourages participants to express their grief, anger and fears for the ecological crisis of our planet.
Seeing With New Eyes: Knowing what we love, but also having felt what is not okay encourages us to turn anger into action and fear into hope. In this stage we explore perception, unseen connections and new ways to view problems and their potential solutions.
Going Forth: This is all about creating a future vision for a world in which we want to live. A place where society holds personal and environmental well being with as much regard as economic gain and individuals lead authentic lives in line with their unique gifts.
Our classes conclude with a presentation of artwork inspired by intentions set during Going Forth and sharing these intentions in circle. It is always such an inspiration to hear of the ideas and actions each person is going to take in moving the world toward their vision.
Paddy Hocking – High School Outdoor Education Teacher