Have you ever looked at the world and wondered whether there’s a better way to do things?
I was in my teens when I first started to question whether my education was actually going to help me in the future. I was a smart kid but I was constantly bored and my teachers sometimes tried to label me as ADD.
As I looked deeper into the issue I realized that the thing missing from my school experience was a successful merging between education and psychology.
On the surface we were learning good things but the problem is that we weren’t learning it in a way that made sense for a human brain.
Nature And Human Potential…
Human beings are incredibly smart and capable, but put them in a concrete box that deprives them of good old fashioned sensory stimulation and they become stupid!
This is where nature based education comes in. Nature is filled with opportunities to nurture both the scientist and the artist inside each person.
I became passionately curious about how I could use nature based education tools like observation training & wildlife tracking to enhance my own intelligence and life success.
I immersed myself in studying ecopsychology, nature based mentoring, socratic learning styles, as well as more technical skills like wilderness survival, sustainable backyard farming and bird language.
And I come away more convinced than ever that nature does indeed have a way of awakening the entire human mind and body to achieve our highest level of brilliance possible.
So today I’d like to share some of the different ways that nature based education makes it possible to inspire brilliant minds.
#1 Learning To Solve The Problems Of Nature
Nature is filled with problems just waiting for someone to find an answer. Every leaf, stone and soil disturbance is another question waiting to be solved.
During school you learn to solve problems in a book but being in nature teaches you how to solve problems in the real world.
Imagine that your teacher gives you a seed from a plant somewhere in the forest. You’ve never seen this seed before, but your assignment is to find the plant to which it belongs.
You might go around collecting samples of every seed and plant you can find. You make comparisons and search in all the different ecological zones to find the place where your mystery seed can be found.
Now imagine that nature itself is your teacher, and you get to choose whatever problems are most exciting for you to try and solve.
It might seem like a simple activity… but think of all the real world problem solving skills you’re learning (observation, research, patterning, investigation, communication with study partners).
#2 Environmental Sensitivity
One of the greatest problems a brilliant person can tackle in the modern world is how to preserve, regenerate, and enhance the natural potential of our soils, water, & ecosystem biodiversity.
I believe an important quality of intelligence is the ability to consider all the potential consequences and repercussions of any creative project you aspire to bring into the world.
Nature based education will make you more aware of how ecosystems change through the impact of people (and not just on an intellectual level).
There’s a big difference between hearing about environmental issues on the news versus being able to actually see it with your own eyes.
To someone who has no meaningful relationship with birds it would be easy to miss the changes in their populations and distribution that result from poor land management.
However, people who ARE environmentally sensitive will very quickly notice when things start shifting for better or worse.
The result is that naturalists become more committed to reducing their use of resources by composting, growing gardens, using more sustainable energies, as well as innovating new ways to further develop positive changes.
#3 Leadership Skills
Being tuned with nature doesn’t just change how people act in the woods. It’s not just about having empathy for birds and wildlife.
The sensitivity you develop through nature education also affects how you communicate and your ability to perceive emotions in other people.
In my training as a tracker I was taught to see the world through the eyes of the birds or the deer & bobcats that I wanted to study.
I discovered that by empathizing with animals I could better predict their behavior and get closer to them without causing fear or avoidance patterns.
The same is true about people. Most people don’t know how to truly empathize and see from the perseptive of other human beings.
But if you can learn to see the world from another human’s perspective, you’ll be much more able to predict how they’re thinking, feeling and how they will act in a variety of situations.
This is incredibly important for teachers, politicians, entrepreneurs, therapists & business people. It will make you much better at influencing people for mutually beneficial outcomes.
#4 Clarity & Focus
Do you ever wonder why kids have such a hard time focusing in school?
Sometimes the smartest kids are the ones who have the most difficult time.
Yet put them outside and they can focus for hours on building things out of natural materials, creating stories and entire societies in their imagination.
Does that sounds like someone who has a focus problem?
I think the problem isn’t that people can’t focus… it’s that we don’t give our brains enough stimulation to learn that skill.
There are lots of studies showing how exposure to all the different colors, smells, sounds & feelings of nature help to produce a more focused state of mind.
Think about the times in your life when you feel your mind & body operating in top gear… now imagine what it would be like if you could be like that all the time!
This is a normal human quality you can cultivate by studying nature.
#5 Inner Peace And Happiness
You might be wondering what inner peace and happiness have to do with being more brilliant. Here’s how I see it…
Most people are trying to make changes in their life so they can be happy.
The problem is that it’s often very difficult to make positive changes when you’re depressed or frustrated about how things are going.
Wise people throughout the ages have recognized the innate ability of the natural world to bring upon states of happiness and joy that aren’t intensely attached to external circumstances.
If you can find happiness in the simple things then you’ll have much more energy to spend on creative projects because your mind won’t be all tied up knots.
This is when your mind will be free to create and make a difference without being distracted by negative emotions.
#6 Self Reflection
Another important quality of brilliant minds is self reflection.
As people go deeper into the patterns of nature… there comes a greater tendency to reflect inwards.
What starts out as a simple desire to learn more about plants and animals eventually turns into a discussion about how these natural elements have unique qualities and characteristics that can actually teach us as people.
This is possibly one of the reasons why traditional nature based cultures have such respect for the animals and elements of nature.
Eastern healing arts use animal forms to enhance their health routines. Many cultures search for animal guides and find great personal insight through those practices.
Sitting quietly and observing nature tends to lead people in the direction of being more self aware and reflective too.
#7 Seeing The Big Picture
Perhaps more than anything else, the capacity to have a brilliant mind comes from seeing patterns in our world on a higher level.
We live in a world with many different layers interacting as a giant ecosystem. Ignore any one of those layers and you might be setting yourself up for disaster.
We need to train ourselves to see all the complex interactions between our environment, psychology, society and politics. Only then can we move forward as a unified species that creates a more evolved society.
If there’s one thing to take away from this it’s that nature based education is hugely important. It’s a growing trend and I think we’re going to see more and more opportunities for this type of learning in public and private education.
My goal today is simple to give you hope and encouragement that just outside your front door is an entire world of opportunity.
So get outside and explore nature with your heart & soul!
Thank you for this post. It is a very good synthesis on how nature connection grow proactive empathy! I totally agree with your content which goes further than “it is good for health and good to focus”. Actually it is far more than that!
Brian Mertins says
Thanks for sharing! It definitely goes so much deeper!