Biophilia in a School Setting
There are a number of practical considerations that need to be addressed for any educational project. A very important issue is that of time. Biophilia and the approach offered here is very adaptable in this respect: from an hour spent on one songapp to a whole course stretching over months. It could form part of a programme in music, science or technology science teaching for one class, or be a thematic project for the whole school, for one day or even up to a week.
Another dimension is space and facilities. Well-equipped music and science classrooms are a great bonus, preferably not too far apart. Wifi and generally good internet access is desirable, and generally speaking flexible spaces where equipment can be set up and taken down. Nevertheless, a lot can be done with very little and many of the activities only require a bare minimum of resources.
Ideally the teaching of Biophilia should be in the hands of music teachers and science teachers. Teachers of art, drama, dance, social sciences, religion and in a variety of other subjects could form part of the teaching teams. The interdisciplinary nature of the work is one the fascinating things about Biophilia, this is a great platform for fertile cooperation across subject lines that are not often crossed. This also has the great educational benefit of counteracting the compartmentalisation of students’ minds, helping them to see and seek out connections they would otherwise have remained blind to. The ideal way to achieve this is for teachers to be together in the same space taking turns and cooperating in carrying out the activities.
Biophilia can appeal to a wide age range. While it has mostly been used for children between 10-12, younger children will be drawn to certain aspects of Biophilia, while teenagers and adults may appreciate the emotional depth of some of the songapps better. In reality some of the more abstract themes seem to be appropriate for graduate level university work.
Biophilia is in some ways like a sandbox, an amazing space for learning and exploration, where all manner of adventures and creativity take place, either using only your bare hands or elaborate gadgets like shovels, plastic trucks and whatnot. To me it seems that Biophilia offers a comparable thing for education, offering exciting democratic and creative opportunities for today’s schools and educational institutions.
Evaluation of students’ performance is always a challenge, and more so when the complexity and level of freedom in activities increases. Educators will find ways to approach this issue, in line with the student group involved and the time and space allotted to the project.