On our nature walk yesterday, I felt like I began to understand more of the reasoning behind the classroom environment. The transition from us being indoors to outdoors was a key moment. Inside, in the classroom, I felt relatively focused; possibly due to the neutral, plain colored walls, the cold, consistent temperature air, and our small classroom closed to the rest of the building- and the world, with the door shut and the blinds covering the windows. The only distraction I could find in the classroom is my own mind diverging down multiple different paths and making me lost in my own thoughts. I often find classrooms uninteresting, forcing me to pay more attention to the subject at hand, versus observing the atmosphere around me, which is my tendency when I’m outside or in a lively environment.
When we ventured outside, the environment around us became full of life. There was an eclectic color palate, painted by the sky and the plants bursting of life. The air was warmer with a humid feel, uneven due to the unsteady breezes whispering around campus. There were smells of food, perhaps coming from the union, and of the flowers in the beds near the buildings, and of the grass. Outside, it wasn’t just our small group of people anymore. There were people bustling to work or class on the sidewalks around us, people resting on the benches on the outsides of the sidewalks, and people napping in the grass. Past the plant life and other human species around us, we noticed many squirrels, birds, and ducks on our walk. Outside, the attention isn’t just focused on us, the human species, outside, we are equal, if not lesser to the beautiful ways of the world around us.
Being outside on our walk, and just in general, makes me feel more alive (I know that sounds cliché, but I truly do feel that way). Yet, I also noticed outside where my thoughts were. I was fascinated by the beautiful, natural shades of the earth around us, then distracted by the varying smells that filled my nose, and even more focused in on observing the people and animals around us. While I believe that there is so much to be learned from being outdoors and observing the world around us, I realized on our walk how little I would learn if any of my intensive academic classes were taught in the outdoor world. I already find it hard enough to focus with just my mind being able to run wild in class, and my computer or phone within an arms’ reach, but I realized that if I was in any other setting but the traditional classrooms or lecture halls, I believe that there would be a very little chance that I could focus at all on what I was being taught about. Until yesterday, I don’t think I had every appreciated the atmosphere of a classroom, so our walk was a mind opening experience for me.