fossicking in a field of my own


FSC Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire 15-17313

innovations in marine education - classroom (pward 2013) classroom, dale fort (pward 2013)

I was recently invited to take part in a 3-day workshop organized by the Field Studies Council at one of their fantastic field centres at Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire, South Wales to explore the possibilities and potential of teaching about the sea and seashore. The event, funded by the British Ecological Society and the Field Studies Council, brought together teachers from a variety of institutions, conservation groups, environmental bodies and even an environmental artist(!?), to provide an opportunity to share ideas and skills, make contacts and to promote new thinking about ways to engage and inform learners with the seashore and the contemporary issues surrounding it! Activities ranged from PowerPoint presentations, rocky shore ecology lessons, Seashore School activities, plankton sampling and identification with microscopes, to an exhilarating rib (boat) ride around the bay and of course plenty of time to chat and play with the ideas. For myself, it was really refreshing to be amongst such a wealth of knowledge and experience about the natural world and exciting ways of engaging with it, and also excellent to be able to provide a more creative and open space within the sometimes heady and more empirical methodologies present, to maybe bring out the art lying just under the surface of science. Hopefully the open-mindedness of the organizers to include artists in such a conference is a growing trend…

innovations in marine education - rib ride (pward 2013)  rib ride and plankton sampling, dale fort (pward 2013)plankton image using mobile phone camera and microscope image of plankton using mobile phone camera through microscope 

innovations in marine education - art workshop (pward 2013)   environmental art workshop, castle beach (pward 2103)

My own involvement was an impromptu presentation looking at how art may support and inform environmental education and a participatory workshop on the final afternoon. The workshop involved a silent walk for half a mile from the field centre to castle beach; a silent breathing/listening/grounding circle on the beach; group foot circle drawing on the beach to create a working space; sharing a single word or object that sums up individual connection to the seashore environment; 20 minute silent, individual and mindful collection of objects from the beach focusing on why, how and any imaginative responses to process; placing collections in circular space; sharing of individual experience and reflection upon process; affirmation of new insights; washing hands in sea to close. I think it is important to note the workshop was developed over the course of the weekend as a response to the event as a whole, trying to create activities that would fit best. It was thankfully very well received and seen as a valuable element of the weekend generally producing some surprising and interesting results and insights for those who participated, in particular the necessity to give ourselves time to simply be in the natural environment, without the pressure of work or specific outcomes, and to revisit those activities that may have inspired us in the first place. Personally it was empowering to allow ideas for the workshop to evolve during the weekend and to then have the confidence to lead. Many thanks to all who took part.

innovations in marine education - networking (pward 2013)  networking, dale fort bar (pward 2013)

organizations represented

Further accounts of the weekend workshop may be found at…

P Ward 2013


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