This spring and summer saw a bumper crop of learning opportunities blooming at Barnes Common, writes our Outdoor Learning and Education Officer, Paddy Hayes. Our school learning programmes have seen over 300 learning visits for young people to the Common and Leg O’Mutton over the past 6 months. Being able to discuss topics such as biodiversity and flood risk and link them to the national curriculum allows learners to connect national and even global issues with their local area. Encouraging our young people to have a sense of place and to connect with and value their non-human neighbours is a key step towards ensuring a more sustainable future for everyone – one in which pockets of wild life like Barnes Common and Leg O’Mutton continue to flourish.
Adults too, have been joining us on this learning journey. With a programme covering bat walks, woodland walks, historical talks, art workshops, as well as a range of volunteering opportunities, many of you may have engaged in lifelong learning with Barnes Common this year. Or you may be looking forward to our upcoming Fungi Walks this autumn! In this spirit, the staff team and volunteers recently took part in a Carbon Literacy learning course led by Dr. Susi Arnott. I’m sure all attending would agree it was an eye-opening experience, and one which really cemented the value of the work we do here at Barnes Common – whilst reminding us there is always more to do.
As Susi made clear, it is absolutely vital that we all take responsibility for our part in the crises that face our planet. This is not about blame but about finding solutions. Working with schools and young people is a delightful task, but at times it is difficult not to feel sorry for the weight we have placed on the future generations. As Davis (1998) says “It is not good enough to ‘educate the children, because the children are our future’. We are our children’s future.” Learning is not confined to classrooms and school days, young people are learning how to live in this world every minute of every day, and now more than ever they need role models to show them the way. They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ – certainly the more adults that engage in environmental learning and pro-environmental behaviours, the better placed next generation will be.
As a community, nation, and region, we will certainly face climate-related challenges and threats to the biodiversity around here in the future. Take an active role in building resilience against these shocks by taking part in learning activities with us at Barnes Common. Better informed adults and young people alike will make sure this community is ready for the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. As an organisation our mission is to inspire and to encourage action and leadership. Understanding, care, and action go hand in hand. Learning is the gateway to inspiration – come along to the next Lifelong Learning activity to find out for yourself!