Novato Charter School
New Minds for a Healthier Planet
Novato Charter School
To foster future generations of adults who will live sustainably, not only because they know it is the right thing to do, but also because the emotional and affective values they developed as children will demand nothing less.
How we are doing it
John Burroughs, the American naturalist and essayist cautioned that “Knowledge without love will not stick. But if love comes first, knowledge is sure to follow.” A child's emotional and affective values of nature develop earlier than her abstract, logical and rational perspectives . At the Novato Charter School, rather than just imparting knowledge and responsibility to students before they have been allowed to develop a loving relationship with the earth, we provide opportunities for them to have frequent and positive encounters with nature that will result in the development of a responsible environmental ethic.
From our organic garden and outdoor classroom where children work, harvest, cook and eat, to our natural playground environments where they reclaim the magic that is their birthright through the joy of exploration and discovery, to field trips where middle school students witness first-hand the awe and science of the forces of nature or its rich biodiversity, to allowing Kindergarteners to harvest wheat and make their own bread or collect wood scraps and make their own toys.
These myriad activities are complemented by a campus and community that every day looks to incorporate new ways to become more sustainable, thus mirror what we teach with what we do: we recycle and compost, employ reusable plates and cutlery for lunch and during our school festivals, retrofitted all our buildings with compact fluorescent lighting and recently, became our city’s first solar-powered school.
What we are learning
It is during early childhood when children's experiences give form to the values, attitudes, and basic orientation toward the world that they will carry with them throughout their lives. If their developing sense of self becomes disconnected from the natural world, then nature will be seen as something to be controlled and dominated rather than loved and preserved.
Furthermore, children learn by example, and if there are inconsistencies between what we tell them is right and what we do as a school, they will become cynical and apathetic towards environmental concerns.
Nature’s last hope is for future generations not to have to be taught how to live sustainably, but that will live that way out of deep connection with Earth and knowledge about the perils of severing that connection.