Next week, I am off on a bit of a holiday. No, not the Summer Holiday. We are working until the 24th! But from Monday to Wednesday, myself and two lurvely colleagues are heading off camping in the forest with 28 of our Year 5s.
One of the things that irks me a bit is how the things that I spend my time working at and caring about a lot at work fall by the wayside now that we are experiencing a turn towards research. I am totally in agreement with the fact that for too long, too many decisions have been made by too many teachers with too little evidence. One problem, universally acknowledged in the story of the social sciences, is that when we attempt to measure elements of social life, the very ‘things’ that we measure tend to be those that are most easily quantified.
For things like arts education and for the topic of this post – outdoor education – it is far harder to gauge ‘effectiveness’ than it is to find effectiveness in subjects like mathematics and literacy. If the outcomes of music education are not only the ability to play music at a particular grade, but an emotional sensitivity, a refined sense of expression, a cultural literacy and a sense of fulfilment and wellbeing… these things are much harder to make than a SPAG test.
As such, when I am thinking of things like this camping visit, which I am running for the second year now, I ‘know’ on the emotive level of subjective experience that it is valuable. I know it from the fact that last year’s kids still talk about it, from the smiles and ridiculous anecdotes. We showed a video montage to staff after last year’s camp and there were actually tears being shed.
But it got me to thinking that perhaps it would be an interesting little endeavour to attempt to ‘track’ the kids responses, feelings and opinions to camping and to their visit. We could do a before, during and after, through a bit of a diary. Of course this will still remain an imprecise science – well, not even that – but for us interested teachers who find the words of the kids to be a rich and fascinating source of the qualititative… it is worthwhile.
As such then, I got my kids to write down their free thoughts about next week’s camping visit today. I have anonymised the kids, and coded them with a letter. These letter codes will stay the same so that ‘Kid A’ is the same Kid A throughout all the different little diary entries.
Note that Kids U, V, W, X,Y, Z, # and * were not able to write their diaries with me today, but will be doing so on the trip and afterwards.
Enjoy, comment and share.
Kid A – I am feeling 110,000% excited about camping. I am feeling scared about the toilet in the night, which is a bucket. Also about the fox. Everything else is fine. I really want Kid B and Kid C in my tent please.
Kid B – I am really excited. I may feel a bit scared because I have never ever been away from my mummy. I can go a bit weird at night and talk about arguments I had at home when I am sleeping. Don’t worry though, it’ll be just fine! I want Kid A and Kid C in my tent please.
Kid C – I don’t sleep early. I have never slept away from home and I am a little bit scared. I use the toilet a lot. [Private medical info shared that would identify the kid if disclosed] I want Kid A and Kid B in my tent please.
Kid D – Dear Diary, my name is Kid D. This is my first time going camping and I hope my partners are Kid F and Kid E. Kid F is my best friend. Kid E is not my friend but he has no one and that is why we chose him. I can’t wait for camping.
Kid E – I am scared of bugs and wasps.
Kid F – This is my first time going camping. I am really excited and I can’t wait, but at the same time I feel a little scared. I’m sleeping with Kid D and Kid E. I am looking forward to the animal handling and den making. Just four days left and I can’t wait!
Kid G – I am excited for this trip and I don’t want to step in the bucket. I am so scared of spiders. True story, I screamed because of a spider and I spent one hour in my parents room before sitting up in case of spiders so NO SPIDERS for me please. If there is a spider in, I will not go in for three days straight.
Kid H – Well I am so nervous about the food. First I will tell you that I don’t like veg and that’s why I am nervous and sometimes I sleep talk and don’t get no sleep at all. I like my own blanket and won’t sleep without it. [Private things which would identify the kid.] I have the worst dreams ever and I scream and I will tell you a bit about it – when i enter this house I feel trapped and scared and once I am in my dream and that’s what I am scared about it will make me not want to go camping.
Kid I – I am so excited for camping, especially when we go tree climbing. It is going to be really fun and I can’t wait to go on the zip line. I forgot to tell you I have got my [specific medication]. I’m nervous about touching the animals. Also, make sure you sit with me on the coach Mr Walker.
Kid J – I am feeling happy confident and not scared! I have friends, I can’t wait to go and party!y!y!y!Y!Y!Y!Y!Y!Y! Thanks Mr Walker and Miss Cansdale!
Kid K – I am kind of scared because I am scared to sleep without my parents and I am kind of excited that I am going camping. I am scared if bugs go in my tent. I will enjoy the camping. I really don’t mind if Kid G isn’t my partner, I don’t mind.
Kid L – Mr Walker is the best. It is going to be so fun when I go there. I can’t wait to go on the zip line.
Kid M – I am feeling really good about it and I am excited about the trip. I am also excited to sleep with my friends and also do the activities. I can’t wait to go and PARTY with Kid J and Kid U.
Kid N – I am so excited for the camping trip and am looking forward to the activities and sleeping with my friends. I am scared about animals coming into my tent but I know it will be so much fun!
Kid O – I do not go to sleep easily. I go to sleep at like 1 o clock even though Mum always tells me to go to sleep but I never do. Don’t call me loudly to wake me up – slowly rock me and whisper my name please. I hate spiders and any kid of bugs or insects. [Rude threat issued about what will happen to me if I do decide, as I suggested, to wake them by bashing a frying pan about the campsite.]
Kid P – I do not go to sleep well at all. When I want to go to sleep, that’s when I go to sleep. I sleeptalk at night and I would move myself about a lot. I’m not afraid to go camping. I will be mad if you wake me loudly.
Kid Q – Dear Diary. I’m supercalifragilisticexpialidociously over excited for the camping trip and its activities. I feel quite confident because I’ve experienced simple camping. My camping stuff/equipment is ALL ready. I am expecting to see plenty of creaturs and I hope not to do so… As being VERY hyper. I get extremely hot at night so I have a habit of rolling and kicking while asleep. I am really looking forward to sleeping with my group mates and have a vertremely (very & extremely) over enjoyed time! I do watch horror TV shows so I might be afraid of the dark. However, I won’t be scared to an extreme condition. QUESTION – Will teachers from Elmhurst be leading the activities or staff from the place? WARNING – I daily HAVE to take vitamin tablets after dinner.
Kid R – I am very happy to go camping and I can not wait for camping and I will miss my mum and dad and we can not wait for camping and luckily no mosque for me.
Kid S – I am scared of natural disasters.
Kid T – I find it very hard to sleep at night.