The wonderful Sharon Danks, author of Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation and cofounder of the International School Grounds Alliance, studies schoolyards that are transforming children’s play through a deepened awareness of local ecosystems. In honor of her inspiring and groundbreaking work, the Edible Schoolyard Project has featured her in a June newsletter Edible Editorial!
Sharon’s Edible Editorial, entitled Re-imagining Schoolyards as Places of Wonder: An Excerpt from Asphalt to Ecosystems, provides readers with an excerpt from the preface to Asphalt to Ecosystems along with an author’s note from Sharon herself.
The author’s note effectively introduces us to Sharon’s important study of how schoolyards can be used to transform the way children connect with their local ecosystems, maintain a curiosity for adventure, and learn to nurture their surroundings first-hand. Here, Sharon touches on why transforming school grounds from cement jungles to places where nature can be explored is so important for our children:
When you think about “schoolyards,” what type of image first comes to mind? For many people, school grounds are places covered by paved surfaces and uniform sports fields, adorned with a few nondescript shrubs and trees, and one or two ordinary climbing structures purchased from a catalog. Most school grounds in a given city or region look like all of the others, with very little variation to reflect unique aspects of each school community, the neighborhood’s environmental context, or the teachers’ preferred curricula and teaching methods.
At the same time, the children’s domain—the areas they can roam on their own outside of school—has been shrinking over the last few generations, leaving many children with only the schoolyard to explore to discover how the world works. If what we are providing them at school is limited and bland, how will they develop their curiosity, their sense of adventure, a healthy lifestyle, and a well-rounded world view?
Asphalt to Ecosystems incorporates Sharon’s many years of field research with a practical framework for parents, teachers, school administrators, environmentalists, and schoolyard designers looking to reinvigorate their school grounds.
Way to go, Sharon!