Author: Cindi Lou Grant
It's common to see most kids spending their childhoods cooped up inside with rigorous schedules. Our mission with Sawyer is to take a stand, get more kids outside, and foster growing communities that understand our connection to nature is essential. Kids don't have a lack of desire to play in nature, they simply have significantly less time to play and be kids.
The blame often falls on new technology, but I don't see this problem as solely owned by the uprising of technology. In fact, I love technology. No, it is rooted much deeper than that. Our priorities as a society have shifted into an overreaching mindset of productivity. We are driven to perpetually accomplish and produce. Kids are growing up with productivity, schedule, structure, and consumption as top values. This mindset is not only infiltrating childhood but is a pervasion of our modern society. Our kids' lives are so over structured and scheduled that finding time to play is scarce.
As a brand built to respond to this lack of play, we stand alongside others to spread the message. Also answering the call and making huge moves in this arena of getting kids outside is the Another Way School in Park City Utah.
Another Way School is a Montessori school that also incorporates skiing, music, dance, equestrian skills, yoga, and living history. Their vision is to provide a place for kids to learn within a beautiful, nurturing, and safe educational community. They aim for their students to grow into adults who respect the earth, understand our intrinsic connection to all life, and love all mankind as brothers. They believe that by schooling children in this way, we will raise kids that grow up and create a world of peace, harmony, and understanding around them.
The founder Diane Bode puts it this way, “Our Mission is the provision of prepared educational environments and experiences designed to awaken the power of the child's mind through direct interaction with Nature and with large animals in particular. Our multi-age classrooms and multi-sensory, integrated curriculum provide opportunities to learn with children of all ages, and alongside adults who are masters in their fields.”
The Montessori Method is the brain child of Maria Montessori. She developed a method of childhood education that holds active learning, independence, and cooperation next to each child's unique pace. Each Montessori school abides by 5 core premises:
- Respect for the child- Adults in conventional education hardly respect children and expect them to be disciplined while forcing information on them. Alternatively, the Montessori method offers children choices, preparing them to become independent learners. A hands on approach is paramount, rather than the information being dropped on them.
- The Absorbent Mind- Children are soaking up information constantly! What they absorb is heavily influenced by the types of information and experiences crossing their paths. Montessori classrooms allow free exploration and learning in uninterrupted blocks of time.
- Sensitive periods- Children are more prone to learn different types of skills at varied points in their development. The age at which they are most open to a "sensitive period" varies from one child to another. Teachers are taught to be aware of when is the right time to introduce certain concepts to each child.
- The prepared environment- One of the biggest factors that set Montessori classrooms apart is their physical organization. The classrooms are filled with readily available and well-organized learning materials. They emphasize beautiful, friendly, environments that create an experience for kids of all ages. The multi-aged classrooms contain materials that children from different ages, characteristics, and interests could all engage in.
- Autoeducation- Children have the ability to educate themselves, and learn best when fully engaged. Autoeducation is essentially the goal of Montessori schools. Children often learn in multi-age groups and are able to assist each other, creating a community learning process.
Another Way builds upon this Montessori foundation and has created a very unique and special school. Another way has two more core premises.
- Friluftsliv- a Norwegian term meaning "free-air-life." When the connection with Nature is embraced and a part of a peoples' daily life experience, life is consciously lived. Friluftsliv is a state of being.
- "What I do to my brother and to the earth, I do to myself" as spoken by Chief Seattle.
Another Way sees that when those working with children honor nature and see one another as "all related," the child's natural connection with all aspects of creation is supported.
As our missions are aligned, so too is our support. As our first step in giving back to our community, we teamed up with the school before we even launched our brand in the public sphere. In true Montessori style, we stuck to a collaborative approach and together designed a uniform project.
We wanted the uniform to reflect the mission of Another Way while also incorporating the style of Sawyer. For this task, we brought on the talented artist Seth Johnson and together created a uniform that kids want to keep wearing through the weekend.
When we embarked on our partnership with Another Way, we not only wanted to provide the coolest uniforms for these wild students but we also wanted to help Another Way fund their programs. We donated our time and resources so that the school could sell them to raise funds.
As we grow up as a brand here at Sawyer, we are holding our mission in the forefront of everything we do. We hope to expand our giving back program as we go along and continue our partnership with the Another Way School.
Have ideas of projects that get kids outside? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to spark the flame.