InDiGO: Inward Discovery Grows Outdoors

By GABRIEL PICKUS

Overview

InDiGO stands for Inward Discovery Grows Outdoors. Through outdoor programs and integrative project-based design workshops with educators, InDiGO illuminates the natural connections between academics, the arts, and social and emotional learning (SEL). InDiGO’s mission is to guide youth and adults to access and develop their own inner power to learn, teach, heal, and unite by discovering nature’s wonders within and all around us. Please learn more by visiting www.inwarddiscovery.org.

 

Educators, parents, administrators, healers, environmental educators, and young people can contact us directly to co-create a customized InDiGO experience according to their particular goals. We specialize in a range of teaching and healing modalities including multi-media arts, martial arts, music, teambuilding, guided meditation, and integrative academics. Contact us at unite@inwarddiscovery.org. Call us at 443.607.2477, and learn more here: https://inwarddiscovery.org/our-work.html.

Expected Impact

We aim to transform the way academic and resource teachers collaborate, how students are evaluated, and how adults engage with children both during and after school. “Almost without exception, students in any type of interdisciplinary or integrative curriculum do as well as, and often better than, students in a conventional, departmental teaching approach”[1]. The evidence to support alternative approaches has existed for decades.

 

We evaluate our impact from several angles, including but not limited to the following:

  • The number of educators participating in our professional development workshops along with their before and after surveys and testimonials.
  • The InDiGO projects those educators create with their students in collaboration with us.
  • The integrative outcomes and proficiencies that those projects demonstrate such as:
    • Student engagement and intrinsic motivation.
    • Student academic competencies according to state grade-level standards.
    • Student SEL competencies found here: https://casel.org/overview-sel/
  • The transformation of educators’ mindsets through their participation and ongoing relationship-building with our organization as measured by the following:
    • Their ability to frame their lesson planning and curriculum design by beginning within the hearts and minds of their students.
    • Their ability to demonstrate and develop their own whole-child approach, informed by holistic principles.
    • Their ability to design project-based experiences that are holistic, integrative, and as outdoors as possible guiding their students to access nature’s wonders within and all around us. Each experience must integrate at least one aspect from each of the following categories: Nature, Academics, the Arts, and SEL. Learn more about designing InDiGO experiences here: https://inwarddiscovery.org/lets-indigo.html.

 

I founded InDiGO because we are at a critical moment when the whole world has realized that everything is connected. A health crisis has impacted the economy, education, and each of us in different ways. It is time we stop the false dichotomies and separations between ourselves and the Earth, ourselves and others, Academics and the Arts, nature and nurture. Now is the time to nurture healthy relationships with ourselves, each other, and the Earth. Let’s give youth permission to shine the way nature designed: by teaching them how they learn best. Let’s work together to return the motivation to learn and the power to heal their rightful place: within.

 

“Let us not be afraid to imagine these innovative connections in US public schools: progressive, student-centered education that values our learners’ spirits and voices more than merely evaluating their deficits. Our children — all of our children — hold the entire world in their hands. Let us give them the strength and gentleness to hold it well.”
-Sayantani DasGupta [*]

As schools re-open, and we emerge into Summer, how can we answer the call of this moment to put the pieces of how we learn and heal back together? It is time to stop teaching to produce factory workers and adults that can follow instructions, and instead cultivate creative innovators who can solve the problems of tomorrow by thinking in new ways: holistically, and in terms of integrative systems that are interdependent with each other for surviving and thriving. We know that extrinsic reward and punishment, evaluation, restricted choice, restricted time, surveillance, and competition kill intrinsic motivation and creativity.[*] One size truly does not fit all. Let’s join together in a movement that begins within our own hearts and minds to take back control of our own learning and health. The demands of modern life, the distractions of technology misuse, and the pervasive problems of inequity and injustice contribute to our disconnection from ourselves, each other, and the Earth. Yet, we each have the power to nurture our inner spark into a fire that empowers us to learn, teach, heal, unite, and be the stars we are.

 

1. G.F. Vars and J.A. Beane, Integrative Curriculum in a Standards-Based World, ED 441618, ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, 2000, p. 34.

Adopt & Adapt

What is most needed is a subtle shift of our mindset and approach as educators. Rather than beginning with stories and ideas that are external, we believe that the greatest untapped resource on the planet is the hearts and minds of the youth themselves. We give youth permission, space, and time to access and develop their identity, relationships, values, voice, vision, and leadership. No additional resources are required. We believe in accessing nature’s wonders within and all around us, no matter where we are on the planet. We are networking and fundraising to increase access to field trips and other outdoor education and summer camp opportunities for those who would not otherwise have access. We collaborate with each of our partners to provide InDiGO experiences that include an adventure. We guide educators to make their practice more holistic, integrative, and outdoors while simultaneously satisfying their curricular or grant requirements. Please learn more here: https://inwarddiscovery.org/lets-indigo.html.

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