IT MEANS MOTHER NATURE.

AND IT’S TRUE.

Teachers get to know experience of forest pedagogy in LVM further education courses

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How to induce creativity while learning about forest? How to structure lessons so that students could work actively and learn new things? These and other questions were given to teachers from all over Latvia, who participated in the 36 hour further education courses organised by the JSC “Latvijas valsts meži” (LVM), which this year was held in an international atmosphere.

The three days of courses participants began in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Latvia (The Ministry), with a meeting with the Head of Minister’s Office Jānis Eglīts. During the meeting not only they were introduced with the activities and accomplishments of the current Ministry, but also engaged in active discussions about the sector of forestry, its current events and significance in solving environmental and social issues. But after the initial introduction Kristaps Klauss, the Executive Director of Latvian Wood Industry Federation, invited teachers to think about myths and reality, in his presentation they looked at not only statistical data, but also graphical and real life examples that show – not always everything is how it seems, and it is important to look into things in more detail.

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Next, teachers went to the LVM Kalsnava Arboretum. Though, Arboretum is known for its rich collection and the great Peony Festival, teachers stepped into the shoes of students and participated in the “School of Green Yard”. The lesson was divided into three parts – first part was for creating teams by using cards, various household objects and tree and shrub species found in the territory of Arboretum. The second part was dedicated for a role play, where everyone became eco-tourist and made decisions about which goods, taken with them, will be more environmentally friendly than the alternatives we are used to, but in the third part teams performed scientific experiments by getting to know the availability of natural resources, and also studying the characteristics and water permeability of soil.

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For a lively and active beginning of the second day, teachers-earlybirds together with ornithologists of the Latvia Birds Fund went to nature, observed bird species around them and found out answers to their questions that were related not only to bird watching, but also about bird life and habits.

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When the active part of the day began, participants had a unique chance to meet the businessman and internationally recognised author of books, prof. Gunter Pauli. During the meeting participants got to know the education methods and aids developed by the professor, which are being used almost all over the world, so that in an interesting and active way teach about sustainable management of environment and bioeconomics. In his materials and his work, the professor puts emphasis on providing the education process in nature, that is why teachers gathered were invited to go to forest, where doing various tasks, they got a demonstration, how quickly and effectively lead an outdoor educational lesson. At the end of the lesson all participants received a book “The greatest tree” signed by the author Gunter Pauli. However, to learn about forest one must sort out what is his way from a seed to a log house, that is why they visited the LVM tree nursery “Podiņi”, where Jānis Siksalietis, head of the tree nursery, introduced everyone with the processes in the nursery, but forest expert Kaspars Riže told about the latest news and questions about forest.

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At the last day of courses, Āris Jansons, researcher of the Latvian State Forest Research Institute "Silava", in the framework of discussion “Forest for Latvia – next 100” encouraged to think about what is the future forest that we would like to see, but Līga Abizāre, the head of LVM School programme, together with the participants discussed current process of education programme and collaboration possibilities in the new school year. Any of the teachers were invited to express their suggestions to improve the programme, thus creating a discussion about how these programmes should be brought even closer to everyday education process in schools.

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In addition, to share experience even more successfully, teachers went on “dates” that not only bonded, but also encouraged collaboration and created common projects. As teacher from Limbaži Secondary School No. 3 mentioned “during these “dates” initially strangers can become buddies in such a short time!”

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However, Head of Viļāni region nature friend centre “Dadzis” shares her experience: “Head is full with great ideas, hands are ready to create aid materials, new contacts have been established. Thank you for the event, for inspiration, experience and chance to participate in LVM educational programmes, offering children in our centre to learn new things and skills. At the end of the event all “graduates” of the courses received a crown. If you happen to see on a street someone with a very strange crown – don’t be surprised. These people have a noble goal – to educate children about nature and environment, bringing up a generation that thinks”.

Every year LVM offers further education courses for teachers, who are interested in integrating forest in the education process. Professional development courses are aligned with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia and are created in collaboration with the Further Education Centre of Wood Products Research and Development Institute. The courses are financially supported by the project “Nemēslo mežā!” (Don't litter in forest!) of the Latvian Environmental Protection Fund.

 

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