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#18 : Stories of Trees & the Pasir Panjang Nursery Walk
Darren (in his capacity as Telok Blangah CCC’s Pulai Eco Club volunteer) helped to organise this event together with the folks from Nature Kaki of Boon Lay CCC. Here is an article sharing from a fellow volunteer on the event. Coach Brenda (as a resident of Telok Blangah) from FSS was also there.
#17 : Stories of the Forest
FOREST STORY FROM U.S.A. | The Wolves
Fable: Not so long ago, the President was troubled, for the wolves were slowly vanishing from the forests. He was desperate to save the noble animal, so he called all his scientists and ordered them to find a way to conserve the beautiful wolves. The scientists came up with big plans and ideas, from creating protected areas to captive breeding. Some even suggested cloning. To some extent they were successful in raising the population of the wolves, but soon the hunters became even more active and the wolves started disappearing at a faster rate.
The President was extremely sad, but a wise counsellor suggested he take the help of the storytellers. So a new approach was found and the creatives were called. Musicians made beautiful songs on the wolf, the writers wrote enchanting stories, and photographers and filmmakers captured the beauty of the illusive wolf and its importance for our forests. Soon the word spread and the people joined in the movement for protecting the wolf. Slowly the wolf numbers began to rise and balance was restored to the forests.
Moral: Scientists create a better life, but we also need artists and storytellers to create a better world.
#16 : Dairy Farm Climbing Spots (Rock Cliff) Assessment
Coach Darren’s Notes & Correspondance from Attending the Briefing
Assessment Conducted by:
Dr Kar Winn (Geologist)
Er Chong (Principle Engineer)
Monolithic PTE LTD
Ang & Ong Consulting
- American Assessment Standard
- Expert Focus Of Study.
- Not exactly Detailed for first phase
- DFQ is made-made. The risk and rock fall are in a way man-made
- Rock Climbers are very Technical.
- They are Very Knowledgeable about their Act
- Possibility of a Temporary Occupier License
- Sufficient Precaution that will circumvent liability
- Possibility of all these Information to be share with Public
- Assessment Criterias
– Structural Condition
– Joint Condition
– Rock Strength near Joint
Letter from Rock Climbers
Hi Coach Darren and Co, I’m reaching out because I’m not sure if you utilise the spaces near the cliffs near the Dairy Farm meadow for the forest school programme. I’m a climber, and as a fellow user group of the area, I thought you might benefit from hearing this. This evening NParks reached out to our user group and had a meeting with us to update on their geological findings on rockfall hazards, something that would concern us, and possibly your group. The surveyors noted that the rock quality ranged from what they called “moderate risk” (yellow in the picture) to “high” (orange) and “dangerous risk” (red) (hooray for us climbers ). As the surveyor/NParks was presenting though, they kept on mentioning that as they did the survey that they often observed children being led on experiential learning at the base of these cliffs, which they worried about. In their presentation, the chance of spontaneous rockfall with a wide ricochet hazard zone (where they found the kids to be) is quite high.
I’m not sure if this would or would not be your group. If you’d like to hear more about the survey so that you can have more informed decision-making, please write back. NParks is running another session to share their findings on Wednesday, perhaps you could attend. Or at the least, I could talk with you more in depth of what was shared this evening. And if you happen to know the group that is running these experiential education programmes near the cliffs, please do let me know.
Cheers! Mark Szto
Thanks for Sharing and Reaching Out to us regarding yesterday’s event. I was actually there as well, , sitting on the other side behind the Consultants and Professors. I was invited by QX through a common contact. Cos time to time we have to deal with issues similar to what you all have to deal with in terms of Public and Nparks.
Actually since Feb 2021, when we were informed of the closure due to the accident, we have already stopped entering the area. However, there are many other Forest School and Outdoor School around, I believe some of them may not fully understand the situation for sure. I’m actually waiting for the executive summary report from Nparks side as they mentioned in the meeting, before collating a proper communication to share to other Educators who dwell amongst Mother Nature.
I’m also curious how the Rock Climbing community addresses all the educational and curriculum issues being raised. As an educator myself, I will be interested to help with that aspect of work. You all are experts in the rock climbing aspect. I’m in awe of the depth and understanding you all have about the rocks and the activity. Hopefully I can help through my work in communication and storytelling, to further educate the public and community, using the depth that you all have.
Here is a library we compiled over the past 6 years of our work in Nature, Education and Community. https://forestschooleducationseries.wordpress.com/
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#15 : NUS & NPARKS Forest Restoration Workshop
Coach Huda’s Notes from Attending the Workshop
Which species would arrive and survive
(depends on plants characteristics and landscape)
Native-dominated Degraded forest:
- Acidic soil
- Thick layer of leaf litter on the ground
- Overtaken by long-lived pioneer species
Restoration is not just planting trees. It is to restore the forest ecosystem, for the long run. That’s why sometimes there’s a need to remove trees (those already taken over – eg vegetation for old kampung, and replace with late successional species, so higher rate of succession)
Assisted natural regeneration
- Remove or reduce barrier to suppress weed growth
- Species diversity: No significant different with Reforestation
- Forest structure: Higher basal area for ANR
- Seed bank: Higher for ANR
Coach Huda’s Reflection from Attending the Workshop
“I think one of the key learning points is that there is a strong need to rebuild our forest with pioneer species, and most that we have have are not pioneer species.. and what may seem forested area, may not actually be forest tree but tree from remnants of kampongs (eg dairy farm).
So, sometimes, to us, what we see.. eh, why they all chop down/remove trees. But it’s actually for better good for the long run. Cuz the area is then replaced with pioneer species that is meant to build a proper forest ecosystem. Without the correct trees, other condition can be affected, like soil..
Another key learning point is, trees takes years to grow, so all these impact can be seen/felt only years later..
We did the forestation at the border of Chestnut Nature Park… And, if passerby walked past, and see the clearing the staff had done, they might misunderstand, eh.. why remove trees.. but yah, actually it is necc to replace with the correct trees..But of course the border for Dairy Farm is a different matter 🤪 i think that one legit clearing for another car park entrance or road expansion..”
– Coach Huda
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#14 : More Responsibility = Less Rules
Do you often hear the argument from our Forest School kiddo that something is not their responsibility?
Do you cross path often with the notion of children not truly respecting the basic safety rules of our session?
Is there times where you find challenging to deal with the more “alpha” child in the session?
Let’s explore the following concept…
More Responsibility = Less Rules
- Discuss with the children about responsibility, and exploring the different roles we can take on as a group.
- Share our coaches (non-emergency) responsibilities with the group?
- Having every child pick up a simple responsibility for the session
(E.g. Ensure we don’t leave any trash)
Want to try this concept to explore the effect?
#13 : New – Old Articles from our Library
Valuing the Intelligence of the Essence & Form
In this article, let me bring you through the journey of comprehending the magic of Essence through two very common occupations which many folks dwell in, Hawkers and Pre-school Teachers.
Written by : Coach JieSheng
• Jiesheng is a Forest School Practitioner in JB, Malaysia
• Jiesheng is a fellowship of FSS
Forest School Visit by Ayden Ng
Written by : Ayden Ng
• Ayden Ng is our logo designer in 2016
• Ayden Ng is coming to join FSS soon.
Testimonial on Safety @ Forest School
Written by : Coach M
• M is also a Mother of 2 Forest School Graduates
• M is a Parent convert to Forest School Coach
• M joined us from 2016-18
Forest School Singapore Locker Room
#12 : Spirituality & Resonance
Giving some bandwidth to the metaphysical side of things. Darren has taken the time and to engage with the residents of DFNP and has gotten advice and feedbacks from them, click link below to access the exchanges with the residents.
In essence, the focus will be to redirect our energies back to our kids and reduce feeding energy to the distractions.
Forest School Singapore has provided the platform and as Darren affectionately iterates, “you will only make mistakes if you tried”, so do be encouraged that mistake are required to grow.
If any coach requires time off, remember that your progress is yours alone, there is no race.
Commit at your own pace when you are ready.
#11 : Improving the FSS Team Operationally
The Following Information has been carefully prepared by us the Operation Team (Ben, Donovan, Gerald). We will need your full and alert attention to all the following issues
Considering the chain of events that has recently transpired, the operations team came together with Darren to reinforce the Modus Operandi of Forest School Singapore, to support everyone through this period. The emphasis is on the core operation of the Forest School Singapore, which is the state of “being operative or functional, through an act or process”. The intent of this sharing will be to assist the coaches if grounding is required.
For the issue of head counts
- A coach should be identified for attendance and need to have first-hand information on attendance.
- The dissemination of information on participating children should have been done prior to the actual event
(Important notes needs to be acknowledged).
- Moving off from one location to the other should require a headcount before proceeding.
- If there were an extended time where the kids are out of sight, a spontaneous headcount can be utilised
As a general practice, there are no requirement to follow it to a tee, but as long you abide by the line of thought and have done the necessary, we will have exercised due diligence.
For the issue of physical events
Darren and the operation team applaud the coaches for taking decisive actions to ensure the kids are in good physical conditions. The coaches involved had followed the Emergency Response Actions (ERA) and ensured that the kids were well taken care of.
The Following are the Flow of a Good Standard of Situational Response:
- Whenever there is an emergency situation, we will execute our Emergency processes as briefed (see #10).
- After which, the details of the incident do not need to be shared immediately, information and communication on post-event can be delayed.
- We can say that there is an incident in the session today, and we are looking into the details. And we will update everyone at a later time once we can be sure of the welfare of the child and family.
- Focus on Casualty and families, assure them first. The assurance part is the most important, once you have completed the Emergency Actions.
- Do not call any of the managers or in-charge outside of the situation for advice, because they are not on the ground, and would usually provide lousy advice. Trust your ability and training.
- Coaching Team (operational), can then provide Managers with Incident Report once the Emergency is over.
- Principal and Managers will be able to support and take over from there on in, and start the Post-Event Communication.
Management also acknowledge that during and post-accident correspondence with parents will be challenging. We do not have SOP for Post-event Communication, but we do have a team of Managers, Parents and Experience Coaches, who can easily provide support and find resolutions.
The Following are the Flow of a Good Standard of Post-Communication:
- Checking on the child’s status and wellness first.
- Followed by checking on the Parent.
- Try to avoid saying “Sorry” in this period of communication, it is not assuring for anyone to feel the ‘sorry-ness” of anyone at the moment. We can apologize and find the reconciliation at a much later time when the energy is not so high.
- Find things we can agree with to assure them that we are with them.
- People feel assured when agreed upon.
- We do not need to tell them our defenses
- Let our assuring words be the proof.
- Lastly, we can then ask them the magic question of “What do you need from us to help and support you in this period of time”.
#10 : 🚑 Emergency Response Actions (ERA)
(This is a brief overview, more details are covered in full document)
In case of an emergency, signal to stop what you are doing, gather with a member of staff, be silent and wait for instructions. The Forest School Coaches will assess the situation, the nature and extent of the injury/accident. They will ensure that the rest of the group are safe from danger and are adequately supervised. They will attend to any casualties, giving First Aid as necessary. If the Forest School Coach is injured or becomes ill, the other Coaches in the group will take charge of the situation as above and will call for ambulance to attend to the injured or ill.
In the event of Injury
If anyone sustains an injury or illness which cannot be treated by First Aid on-site and requires medical assistance:
In serious cases, the Emergency Services should be contacted (see below)
The rest of the group will be supervised away from the incident and if in danger, will be moved to safety.
Ambulance will arrive at designated site, close to the location of the accident. Forest School Coach, will assist the casualty to make his/her way to the road side to wait for the Ambulance.
If the casualty is not able to walk or move, one of the Forest School Coach will head out to the road side to direct the Paramedics to the Casualty, from the entrance of the trail or park.
If the injured party is taken to hospital, one Forest School Coach will go with them and the injured party’s emergency contact will be updated about the situation by the Forest School Coach.
In minor cases, the Forest School Coach will arrange to contact the injured party’s emergency contact so that they can be collected and taken to the hospital, doctor or home, as appropriate.
- Dial 995 and ask for an ambulance (non-emergency 1777). Be ready with the following information:
- Ambulance Access & Location Details:
Dairy Farm Nature Park Carpark A 679034
- Dairy Farm Nature Park to NUH (14minutes)
- Dairy Farm Nature Park to Ng Teng Fong GH (15minutes)
- Alternative pick-up site:
Dairy Farm Nature Park Carpark B 679057
Emergency Communication Process
- All Emergency Contact has to be in a Whatsapp group / in Operational Coach phone contact list. (If there is a point of contact, i.e. Project Coordinator, he or she needs to be contactable)
- Give a call to the casualties Emergency Contact once the Casualty has been attended to.
- Send a message in the Whatsapp group to communicate of a halt in session
- If session were to stop, all remaining participants have to be picked up.
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#9 : Deeper Learning of FSS Sharings & Facilitations
“It’s Arts Play”, by Judith Dinham & Beryl Chalk,
(p298, Part 2: Educating through the Arts)
Framework of Guided Viewing, Listening & Review
The world of art is full of wondrous artworks and artistic traditions that enlarge children’s understanding of the world and the nature of human expression, endeavor and achievement. You have an important role to play in guiding children to thoughtfully consider such artworks in terms of how they are made, the story they tell, how this relates to the context of their making and children’s own life experiences, and how children feel about the artwork.
When children are encouraged to talk about the story within the painting, film, theatrical performance, music, or dance, they gain a deeper connection to the story, a richer understanding of the situation and a degree of empathy as they put themselves in someone else’s shoes (Barrs, Barton & Booth, 2012). The idea of talking about artwork can also apply to their own art-making experiences and the stories they are telling through their artistic creations.
In a discursive model where children talk about their responses to artworks, the discussion can be teacher-led but equally, children can be organized into small groups to think together (Barrs, Barton & Booth, 2012, p.13). These explorations are conversational and designed to draw children into thinking about the artwork (Bell, 2012). A simple guiding principle offered by Aidan Chambers (2011) in his book “Tell Me (Children, Reading and Talking)” is to avoid the direct question and instead invite children to share their experiences and observations around the four aspects of likes, dislikes, puzzles and patterns. Using this approach, children’s experiences and observations are given prominence and reflective thinking is promoted. Since children’s views are not right or wrong the veracity of their thoughts is validated and this helps develop children’s confidence in articulating them.
While children’s views are not right or wrong they can be informed views, grounded in careful contemplation and consideration, or superficial ones. The role of the educator is to use the principles of critical review (critical thinking) to ask questions that help sustain the conversation and encourage children to think beyond a superficial response and to consider deeper issues (Bell, 2012)
Replace Art with Nature, and read it again…
#8 : Urban Legends of Bukit Timah
Bukit Timah Monkey Man Singapore’s Bigfoot
(Sighted near Bukit Batok & Bukit Timah)
The Holy Rock
of Batu Lapan
(Opposite Ford Factory)
Old Miracle Well
in Bukit Timah
(Not Sure Where)
#7 : Cognitive Bias caused by Heuristic
Heuristics is the process by which humans use mental shortcuts to arrive at decisions.
Heuristics are simple strategies that humans, animals, organizations, and even machines use to quickly form judgments, make decisions, and find solutions to complex problems.
Heuristics and biases are ways to speed up the process of finding solutions. The availability heuristic is just one type of heuristic. In this process, people use the most easily accessible information to inform their decision-making.
Easily accessible information can be:
- Information that you memorized more easily
- Something that affected you strongly or had a bigger impact on you
- Events that happened more recently in your memory
How can it mislead us?
The availability heuristic works by prioritizing infrequent events based on recency and vividness. For example, plane crashes can make people afraid of flying. However, the likelihood of dying in a car accident is far higher than dying as a passenger on an airplane.
In 2019, someone’s odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash were 1 in 107, while there were too few airplane deaths that year to calculate the odds. Yet, very few people will avoid getting in a motor vehicle like they would an airplane. The reason plane crashes seem scarier is because they’re typically treated with more gravity in news stories. And, there’s much more media coverage of them in general.
According to research, the availability heuristic will often lead to risk-averse human behavior. This means people will try to avoid dangerous situations, even if those dangers are unlikely.
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#6: Sparrow Saturday: Children Council
(Natasha representing Sparrow Coaches – Huda, Ziyun, Dean)
A couple sessions ago, the Sparrow coaches decided to try out a council session, inspired by the Summerhill article shared by Coach @(FSST) Tesh. One of the children was appointed judge by the others and the children took turns presenting their cases. Sharing below the notes of the meeting summarising the discussion by the kids for those who are interested.
At the beginning I don’t think the kids fully understood the purpose of the council as it was their first experience with it. But thankfully Zach who presented the first couple of cases spoke clearly and gave the other children a reference for the subsequent discussions. They did require a bit of guidance from the coaches on the flow of the session as well.
But overall I think it was a good platform for the children to voice issues they had been grappling with, which they weren’t comfortable previously raising as a group. At the end of the session they were quite keen to have their free play so coaches will probably have to circle back subsequently to check in on how the group would like to organise future sessions. Oliver who was judging is graduating so the judge will naturally be someone different next time round.
Notes of Council Meeting 2 Apr 2022
Case 1: Abolish swearing at Forest School
(presented by Zachary)
- Council unanimously agreed
Case 2: Abolish the keeping of wild animals by sparrow children (presented by Zachary)
- Li Ann defended her case, stating that the animals may die in the wild anyway
- Zachary argued that the children may not know what the animal eats and needs to survive
- Judge Oliver agreed with Zachary
Case 3: Fighting and bullying should not be allowed, except in self-defend (presented by Ethan & Josh)
- Judge agreed
- Ree agreed and suggested not to hurt animals as well, judge agreed
- Council agreed unanimously
Case 4: Should not litter as it can hurt the environment
(presented by Evie)
- Judge agreed that we should keep litter in our bag or put it in the bins
- Council unanimously agreed
Case 5: Should plant more trees to fight climate change
(presented by Thomas)
- Coach Huda shared that the coaches are involved in tree planting as well. Children expressed interest in tree planting.
Case 6: Bring plastic bag to keep trash and pick up trash when you see it on the ground
(presented by Julius)
- Judge agreed, but expressed concern that plastic bags would fly away if children were not careful.
#5 : Children Trauma & Crisis – Understanding
Everyone must have read about the Slashing incident @ Boon Lay . It happen near Tak Takut Kids Club (one of our sister community), and the place I volunteer at weekly. Many of the children was there, saw and heard the whole incident. It was traumatising for them. TTKC and many of the social and enforcement agencies, work together to help support our children.
I attended the mental health session organised by THK Social Service Centre held at TTKC on a Saturday for the children there. I learnt alot from it, and wanted to share some resources to kick start our journey in this area of work. I think that it is very relevant to our community as we interact with children and community as well.
Additional Resource (Shared by Coach Genevieve)
https://www.cal.org.sg/c2c The trauma informed care awareness talk from this organization is very informative + comprehensive (I’ve attended it myself); there’s a workshop for parents as well via the same link. For adding to the resources to kickstart the journey of trauma-informed communities > trauma-competent communities
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#4: An Advise from an Orang Laut to Forest School Coaches
“Being in harmony with nature is most important.
We aren’t here to ‘tame’ nature.
We are a part of it.
We need it.
It doesn’t need us.
Know your place in the bigger scheme of things…”
Shahrom Taha (Descendant of an Orang Kallang Family)
#3 : Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
ZPD refers to the difference between what a learner can do without help (current level of development) and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner (potential level of development).
Scaffolding is the support mechanism that helps a learner successfully perform a task within his or her ZPD. It refers to the support or guidance from an adult or more competent peer to allow learners to gain new understanding or skills. These support can come in the form of demonstration, questioning, etc.
In the Forest School Programme setting, being able to understand ZPD, will give the leader the opportunity and right moment to step in and assist the child to gain the competency. These will also allow the leader to recognise when to step away to allow the child to carry out the task independently so as to reinforce their own learning.
#2 : ⭐ Scriptures of the Stars is now on our page…
We can all now be able to see the links and contents we share to other coaches updated on to this page.
#1 : Words from the Principal of Forest School Singapore
“Forest school to me represents the true genuine and sincere way of learning, unbounded by human agenda, led by environmental needs and the children’s brilliant ingenuity and character. It is the most beautiful form of learning for it is rooted in our soul.
Imagine an earth called “Millions of years of Natural Learning” being engulfed and put to silence by a huge layer of plastic rim called “Centuries of Education Models”. But this education models, that controlled us for the past few centuries, are showing signs of breaking. Cracks are evident. From within the cracks, all the different form of Natural Learning emerge. They spread out across the rim, reducing the suffocation from the Models.
We come so far in human civilization, only to realize at the end of all our various civilization demise, nature has always stand through time, the plants and creatures, through their learning ways, and maybe that is our way too. Maybe that is where we need to learn from to continue living with love and care for each other”
- Darren Quek (2016)