This week our amazing visual arts teachers organized The Big Draw, as part of the world’s largest drawing festival. Taking on the theme, “Make the Change,” our teachers created an art installation of plastic bottles, broken plastic Adirondack chairs, masks, and other pieces of miscellaneous campus waste for our students to respond to with their own art, and, in the process, ponder our role as humans to do more to protect our environment. For two days, students of all ages went outdoors to draw and interact. The visual arts faculty painted an old piano and left it out for students to add some finishing touches.
Using colorful text to answer “How will you change the world?” some students responded in a word, while others answered with inspiring poetry. Students played that piano throughout the day. As I heard the music, I reflected that there’s really no better school than Colorado Academy. You, too, might hear the sounds of piano music while on campus, as the plan is to put a water-resistant coating on the piano and leave it outdoors on the steps of the Schotters Music Center.
Value of learning outdoors
The whole experience reminds me of the value of learning outdoors. We have a great experiential education program at CA. The pandemic forced us to use our outdoor spaces more creatively and more intentionally on a day-to-day basis. My hope is that we continue to take our classes outside to learn. Research shows learning outdoors has all sorts of benefits, including:
decreasing student stress
reducing screen time
producing more attentive students—particularly when they return indoors for their next class
developing better critical and creative thinking
improving social connections and working with others
boosting one’s health and immune system
Classes and lunch under the sun
At CA, I see faculty working with students outdoors all of the time. There are math classes where students are using chalk to work out problems on the sidewalks, science classes doing labs or different projects, English classes in the Sculpture Garden discussing a book, students with cameras shooting video, and so much more.
It’s also been great seeing kids eat together in small groups across the grassy areas. They grab their lunches in the Campus Center, collect some of the chairs and laugh and talk—all while under our sunny Colorado skies. I have said this year is about rebuilding community. I am grateful to have this amazing CA campus to do just that.