Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Collaborating for Inclusion

This is a story about the integration of Outdoor Ed and Social Studies, but also a story about what inclusion looks like.

Ian Leitch is teacher in Prince George and a member of the Pacific Slope Consortium (as am I!). Over the last few years, we have been working on a project we've called TTSP -- you can read about that here.

Many of Ian's contributions to the Pacific Slope and dialogue with TTSP members revolve around his ongoing efforts to integrate outdoor and experiential learning and identity-building curriculum with Social Studies and Outdoor Ed classes. This has translated into unique courses, such as a version of Social Studies 11 Explorations that centers on the Canoe in Canadian history, geography, and culture, with student learning about traditional ecological knowledge and experimenting with "pioneer" skills.

These course trials have led to powerful learning at his school. His wilderness expeditions are legendary, and have taught students about their own limits and strengths, and their capacity for inclusion.

​In 2017, Ian invited Miranda, a remarkable student who lives with severe Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her day in a wheelchair, to join his Outdoor Ed class. With community resources, family and classmates' support, Miranda was able to participate, right up to setting out on a canoe expedition. On a second outing, Miranda had another first -- sitting by a fire and carving wood. This class experience allowed her to act on her love of nature.

Aidan, a young man living with challenging autism, was able to construct his own shelter and spend a – 20 degree winter night under the stars. He did so because the place was made safe for him by his teacher and classmates. One of the key learning outcomes for this course was how to co-design field excursions to involve every student. For Ian's class, inclusion is a team effort.


Photos (Ian Leitch) & names, and stories shared with student & parent permission