Teaching outside the box

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Last week the Creeping Toad himself visited the ELRC to host a workshop with four township primary schools. With characteristic enthusiasm eccentricity, MacLellan inspired students to use their environment as a creative resource. The children were charged to investigate the Botanical Gardens, collect dead or fallen natural materials and to use these materials to create their own storybooks. While doing their ‘field work’, the children were reminded to pay attention to the sights and sounds of nature and record their observations.

The Creeping Toad fuses art, science and storytelling to bolster conventional learning with learning outside the classroom.  This kind of experiential learning develops a passion and sensitivity to nature while science and principles of conservation. It is, however, as much about learning as it is about personal development, says MacLellan: “I find great delight in the combination of people and nature: underneath all my other work there has always been the principle that all education and interpretation is really about helping people discover the world around them for themselves and in themselves.”

The multilayered benefits of this kind of workshop echoed the ELRC’s approach to environmental education. Co-supervisor of the workshop, Community Coordinator at the ELRC, Gladys Tyata, observed of the workshop: “It was amazing to see how the kids could use their imaginations to build a story out of the materials that they found in nature. Not only were they being creative but they were practicing their writing skills and developing self-confidence by sharing their stories with the group.”