While Sun and Stars Bushcraft is not an education facility per se, we are still working with children and forming young minds, so being mindful of our approach to our instruction is paramount. We have selected two key philosophies that we believe complement each other perfectly to provide the ideal mentoring space for our clients to thrive.
The first is through the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, and the second is Coyote Mentoring as devised by Jon Young. While Steiner’s philosophy is primarily focussed on child development, the Coyote methodology is more a practical how-to that can apply to any age and the two come from very similar places of being led by the individual rather than by some arbitrarily fixed curriculum or set of rules.
Below is a quick overview of each and details on how we apply the teachings in our programs.
The basis of Steiner’s teachings rests on the concept of a universal pattern of child development. A key feature of this perspective is the threefold nature of the human being and how the three aspects of thinking, feeling and willing unfold as the child develops. Our mentors seek to develop the relationship between these faculties and therefore holistically addresses the child’s intellect, physical and emotional development.
Steiner identified three main phases of development of children:
• In the first seven years, the children are developing their physical bodies and are primarily living in their will. During this period, learning is primarily through physical actions and imitation.
• From age 7 to 13, the child becomes increasingly aware of a wider world outside of the family and begins to develop a sense of self. In this phase, the child is primarily a being of feeling, imagination, and aesthetic sensitivity. The thinking and intellectual capacities are beginning to develop but do not dominate until puberty. For this reason, instruction is provided in an artistic way, either through drama where children may, for example, act out an ecosystem, through earth arts and music to using a compass to create a join the dots picture on the floor, and other similar games.
• The period from 14 to 21 marks the transition from childhood to adulthood and is characterised by the development of thinking. The role of the teacher and curriculum in this period is to guide the student’s use of critical thinking into constructive ends, and to help them to develop self-direction and independent judgement. A focus on leadership and taking control and responsibility for one’s own decisions in the bush is strongly developed in this age group via set challenges.
Steiner’s approach instils a joy of learning in children, a context and an understanding of the learning process, which encourages a lifetime of learning. Steiner wished for his educational ideas to develop in a manner that was consistent with the principles of Steiner education whilst also evolving to ensure relevance for the society with which children interact.
The early childhood years (0-7) are characterised by children actively learning through imitation and their own creative experience. The child‘s imagination and sense of wonder is fostered, through stories, songs, creative play, interaction with nature and involvement in everyday human activity. The Sun and Stars Bushcraft ‘Bush Kindy’ creates a warm, nurturing and natural environment surrounded with beautiful, natural outdoor space. The young child learns through play and structured activities to cook, paint, garden, sew, use tools, share and problem solve.
The children will explore their environment, increasing their eco-literacy and learning important sharing and cooperation skills to enhance their social and emotional well-being. We strive to foster positive self-esteem, self-confidence and resilience all the while developing gross and fine motor skills.
Coyote Mentoring (much like the Steiner Philosophy above) meets the individual on their own terms. It does not push a set agenda nor focus on specific skills irrespective of the abilities, mood or feelings of the group, but uses the environment each day to mould those present.
It is about discovering the abilities, interests, awareness and comfort level of each individual, making them feel safe and confident within the environment and group, and taking them to the edge of that comfort zone. Once there, the skilled mentor encourages them to go further, stepping out of their comfort zone and helping them become calm when uncomfortable. In this way we can encourage our clients to push themselves, to know that it’s ok to not know and help them strive to keep learning, that it’s good to try and fail and to help build that self-confidence and resilience that is so important.
We use bushcraft practices and techniques to help build our participants self-awareness, and their relationship with the outside world. Practices such as storytelling, thought provoking questioning, games and team challenges are employed by the mentor who works with the rhythm and flow of each individual, eliminating any forced concentration or resented compliance from the experience.
To the untrained observer, it can seem like nothing is happening, it is not an obvious style to those being mentored; simply tasks, activities and games…but there’s always a purpose and a watchful mentor ready to prod and steer in the right direction and encourage interaction with nature.