In order for children to learn to care about the future of our environment, of our world, we must care enough about them to provide them with regular and frequent educational experiences in natural settings. They must be inspired and impelled through experiences in the outdoors to learn about natural systems, about the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living and nonliving things. Young students must be nurtured to develop strong identities within their immediate community in order for them to blossom into the leaders of tomorrow and caring stewards of our natural environment.
Dr. Michael Frome, renowned conservationist, author, and environmental educator, has written this about education: “Education, with only a few exceptions, is about careers, jobs, success in a materialistic world, elitism, rather than caring and sharing; it’s about facts and figures, cognitive values, rather than feeling and art derived from the heart and soul; it’s about conformity, being safe in a structured society, rather than individualism, the ability to question society and to constructively influence change in direction. A change in direction is critical and imperative. Our most precious gift to the future, if you will ask me, is a point of view embodied in the protection of wild places that no longer can protect themselves.” (From the International Journal of Wilderness, August 2001: V.7 No.2.)
Many of today’s schools fail to recognize the importance of developing a student’s authentic attachment to their community, both human and natural. Embracing the philosophy of place-based education, we believe that elementary students often lose their “sense of place” through curriculum and instruction that focuses too quickly or intensely on national or global issues. At MMAEC children will develop a strong sense of place through daily educational experiences that take them out into their immediate community, outside of traditional classrooms and school buildings, and into their neighborhoods and the natural world around them. We believe that one of the most effective ways to shape the leadership skills in our citizens of tomorrow is to provide opportunities for young children to explore, connect with, and learn to understand and appreciate their community through experiences in natural settings.