Small quotation? I have a story, one from my eight-year-old girl.
So, before I started officially forest school Singapore, I practiced a bit of the Forest School ways in various other endeavours like enrichment programs or camps outside. So, I did this camp, this like five days camp during the holidays with an occupational therapist. We did it together. And this camp was an inclusive camp so kids with typical and atypical both joined. And during this camp, I still remember I proposed to my partner and the team:
"Let's do a session in the camp, whereby we bring the kids to the botanical garden for three to four hours, and we have nothing planned for them; forest school lah. And nothing planned for them and they just go there do whatever they want. And we just watch."
I remember I had to argue with my partner, the team for many hours, for four to five hours about this idea because they cannot conceive how is it possible that you don't do anything. Why is there no lesson plan, no objective or outcome? They cannot fathom that. I told them to let's try this, you know, give it a shot and then we see how the kids respond. So, in the sense that was technically Singapore's first trial of something like that.
And finally, they relented and let me do it. So, they were all in very watchful eyes. And we did that session. We brought them to the botanic garden. They played in a typical Forest School mode. Now everybody knows but last time people don't know. Typical Forest School mode, they do their own things everywhere as long as they are safe, you can see them, you can hear them, you know.
After that when they came back, the feedback. So, this is the one, the one feedback that really struck me and also motivated me to continue forest school. It was from this 8-year-old girl. I think, her name was Angela, or something. And she said in her sharing during the debrief
"This is the first time in my life, I felt free, I felt freedom."
And that really like got me thinking and got the rest of the team, as well as my partner, thinking like, wow, eight years old, and it's the first time she felt freedom? What's going on with the past eight years in their life? You know what I mean like? Then, we will also be thinking like what are we giving our kids throughout their lives to for them to actually only come here then they feel freedom? Means, what happens to the rest of their life, there was no freedom?
So, it really struck me. We, as educators can reflect on what we do as well. Are we giving these kinds of space to our children so that they can express themselves or are we leading them to the point where they get into depression?