Land-based Learning in Summer School Programs
Posted on July 6, 2023
Research has proven that the absence of enrichment in math and reading during the summer results in a loss of skills and decline in grade level equivalency. Hence, many schools offer summer school to students to maintain and/or increase skill levels in these areas. Summertime is also ideal to spend much-needed time outdoors. However, according to a nationwide poll conducted by the Nature Conservancy, only about10% of children spend time outdoors every day. First Nations education administrators and educators take advantage of the season and often bring learning outdoors. Nonetheless, land-based learning is much more than simply doing math and reading activities outdoors.
Indigenous land-based learning is a process that centres respect, reciprocity, reverence, humility, and responsibility as values connected to the land through Indigenous knowledges.
It brings together layered concepts like the importance of language and the geography of stories, cosmologies and world views, land protection and rights, relationality and accountability, a connection to reconciliation, and much more. Indigenous students benefit from culturally relevant education, promoting opportunities for inter-generational knowledge transfer, and creating safe spaces for healing and learning. Regionality ties into language and geography of stories.
Land-based learning is so much more than building personal development and teamwork skills by playing games and building campfires together. Using traditional storytelling techniques helps retain important information and is an important part ofIndigenous traditions. It encompasses the preservation of culture, language, and philosophy. Educating with land-based learning activities and storytelling using the Indigenous languages, will ensure culture and language survive. This builds confidence, identity, and resilience in youth.
Yellowhead Institute. (2023). Indigenous Land-Based Education in Theory and Practice by Mandee McDonald. https://yellowheadinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/YI-Land-Based-Education-Special-Report-2.2023-1.pdf
Hines, Christa Melnyk. (2023). 10 Benefits of Summer Camp. Calgary’s Child Magazine. https://www.calgaryschild.com/class-program/camps/2361-10-benefits-of-summer-camp
Canadian Commission for UNESCO. (June 2021). Land as Teacher: Understanding Indigenous Land-based Education. https://en.ccunesco.ca/idealab/indigenous-land-based-education
Photo Credits: Dr. Cathy Martin, Ed.D., Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation