Reading Growing a Forest School from the roots up was like having the privilege of sitting around the fire with a group of knowledgeable and experienced Forest School leaders and trainers I look up to (and some of whom I know personally!). I could hear their voices while reading their words, sense their passion and wisdom, and feel their encouragement to pursue this important work even as I sit reading it thousands of miles away in my home in Canada.
I was introduced to Forest School while formerly living in the UK and completed the Level 3 qualification in 2016. I know if this book had been available then I would have eagerly devoured it while working on my portfolio. It is a succinct collection of guidance relevant to a wide audience, from the Forest School curious to the experienced practitioner looking to learn more. Though written specifically for the UK context, it is filled with helpful information applicable to other countries and continents too.
Growing a Forest School from the roots up provides easily digestible summaries of what Forest School is, the benefits of the approach, and a facilitator’s role alongside advice for how to pursue training (in the UK), set up a business, find and negotiate the use of a site, consider our relationship to land respectfully and sustainably, and so much more – all of which create solid foundations (or roots!) for anyone entering into the Forest School world from a wide range of starting points (freelancers, school staff, organizations, etc.). It’s essentially a book full of all the things you may not have realized you needed to think about before (hopefully) needing to think about them.
As a consultant and mentor who supports people all over the world who are passionate about implementing the Forest School philosophy, usually amidst a whole host of barriers, the book addresses many of the questions I’m asked on a regular basis. While I no longer live in the UK, and Forest School and how it is defined and practiced differs between countries and cultures, I appreciate how the authors address misconceptions about what UK Forest School is, while demonstrating flexibility in how programmes do (and should) adapt to place. This is particularly important for those of us living and working outside the UK! I will most definitely be referring to it, as well as recommending it, to those I work with.
A huge thank you to the FSA for your continued efforts to support and legitimize this many-layered, critical, and yet often misunderstood movement.
Caylin Gans, Forest Schooled – Practitioner, consultant, and mentor in environmental education, nature- and play-based pedagogies, and Forest School