Nature-based education is just starting to get a foothold in America, the land of standardized testing and tightly planned curriculum, but it’s the norm in some areas of the world. NaturePlay is a new documentary that takes a close look into the Scandinavian approach to early education, which is quite successful. The award-winning film from Danish director and cinematographer Daniel Stilling illustrates the stark differences between the effective and productive concept of nature-based education, and the faltering system of high stress standardized testing at work in America.
Stilling filmed NaturePlay in his homeland of Denmark, as well as in Norway, Sweden, and the United States. The aim of the documentary is to capture the contrast between Scandinavian-style nature-based education and high stress American educational standards, especially where testing is concerned. Focusing on outdoor play as a vehicle for education, the Nordic “Udeskole” concept is used in forest kindergartens, adventure playgrounds, teaching outdoors, increased recess, after school clubs, and nature-based play areas. Stilling’s film, which has so far earned seven international awards, not only illustrates how nature-based education works, but reflects on its merits as well.
The filmmaker was the NASA unit Director of Photography on The Martian, and he used the same cameras that produced the NASA sequences to film his documentary NaturePlay. Matt Damon even makes an appearance—but he doesn’t get to ‘science the s—’ out of anything in this film. Rather, he has a guest spot in the documentary to pontificate on the importance of education.
So far, NaturePlay has been screened at a number of film festivals, and screening kits are available for organizations wishing to host a viewing.
Images via NaturePlay