Director: Simon Hutchinson
I grew up on an isolated farm property with my little brother in rural South Australia. We enjoyed a free-range childhood where my mother would tell us not to come home before tea. We constructed cubbies from fallen trees, battled armies, invented circus shows and bike tracks. We knew every rabbit hole, climbing tree and water source in a 2km radius of home. Thinking back the risks were huge, with a main road with a 110km/h speed limit, brown snakes everywhere and abandoned wells, just to name a few. But despite these dangers we were never hurt seriously. We tested each risk and self regulated the danger. They were very happy times.
After I was 10 we moved to a seaside town. As you can imagine our days were then filled with play and adventures like flipping rocks, searching for crabs, and fishing. Entire summers were spent finding the highest point of the local jetty to do acrobatics off.
Naturally my love and respect for nature developed in these early years and I still find my balance staring across the endless ocean. In recent years my thoughts return a lot to the privilege of my childhood as I contemplate my own children’s upbringing in an urban setting. I am always on the lookout for accessible access to nature and in turn this led me to the hope of natural spaces in schools.
My working life has consisted of many jobs including a snorkel guide for American students on the great barrier reef, an aquatics instructor and after completing my degree, two years teaching in the east end of London. This last experience gave me an insight into the effect of NO nature in a child's life. The students at the school had a staggered lunch to accommodate the small asphalt play area where the play was dominated by rough aggressive play.
Recently I have worked at a large metropolitan school both as a classroom teacher for two years and more recently in a non-instructional time role as an outdoor education teacher. This role really crystalized my feeling towards the gaps in school grounds to cater for the variety of play, which is essential for all students to feel a sense of belonging and place. Also to allow all students opportunities for success in the outdoors and allow break times to become filled with rich authentic learning.