This week, my class participated in two incredible Field Studies. We visited a Forest Kindergarten and Peder Lykke School in Copenhagen.
The Forest Kindergarten moves locations frequently. On the day we visited, they were set up on the shores of a lake in Jægerspris. We weaved through the forest and stumbled down a steep sand ridge to the lakeshore.
Experiencing outdoor education in action was exciting. We were able to talk to pedagogues, and parents of children enrolled in the program. Despite the language barrier, I loved playing in the water and making sandcastles with the kids.
I was amazed at how much trust the pedagogues had in the children. They let them climb the highest trees and jump along sharp, slippery rocks. The only structured activities included a birthday celebration for a student – everyone sat around in a circle and ate chocolate muffins – and a guided “mindfulness walk,” where children followed a pedagogue along the beach and learned about different shells and bugs. Afterward, they sat together for a few minutes of quiet meditation.
While the Forest Kindergarten is available to everyone, it is undoubtedly more challenging to accommodate children with severe physical disabilities. The pedagogue I spoke to during our visit explained that many children with cognitive disabilities benefit from the free play and lack of structure. The children thrive in a learning environment where they are not forced to be quiet and sit still at a desk all day.
Later in the week, we visited the Peder Lykke School for our final Field Study. We learned that in Denmark, schools in low-income communities that serve low-income families receive more money from the government. Peder Lykke had a diverse student population, and the teachers explained many students receive free or reduced lunch. Although the school was under construction, it was evident that the school had many resources. Each student had their own laptop, there was a beautiful library stocked with books, and up-to-date technology in every classroom.
In the United States, low income communities typically have underfunded schools and resources and staff are spread thin. This was not the case at Peder Lykke, and is not the case in Denmark – it was so refreshing to see.
In between Field Studies and homework, I have enjoyed biking around Copenhagen and learning how to navigate the city. I have become more comfortable riding the metro and bus – the language barrier is daunting, especially at first. I climbed the Round Tower, took a canal boat tour from Nyhavn and explored the New Carlsberg Museum, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art!
I can’t believe Session 1 is already coming to an end. I am so grateful for my professor and classmates.