The Kampung School

Year : 2017

Forest School Singapore is situated mainly in the Rifle Range forest area, consisting of the Kampong Trail and the Secret Haven. And for the past year, we never knew the true history of the location until last week, on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Myself (Darren), Yuan Ting (to be forest school assistant) and her friend Shawn (NTU Senior Lecturer, Asian School of the Environment), took a walk around the Forest School area. We went into the secret haven to explore, and see what pointers we can receive from Shawn.

He was amazing, recognising almost every plant in the woods just by seeing the shade or shape of the plant. We basically have a crash course lecture on plants and the ecosystem right there in forest school. (Talk about learning as we grow) It was a privilege to be in their presence (Yuan Ting is a spider expert, though a little rusty hehe). We will do another article on the sharing he gave us. He invited us to his research site in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and even allowed us to crash his lecture (Shhhh…). Looks like we found our next Guest Teacher for the Forest School.

Back to the Land. After we took our trek around the woods, we sat in the shelter in Mayfair Park (Forest School Singapore HQ, Meeting Point), to have a rest. And right there sat an old uncle, who is always there in the morning. He recognised me, and we started talking about the neighbourhood.

Mayfair Park (FSS HQ Meeting & Dismissal Point)

His name is Mr. Tao. He told us he used to live in the forest behind (which is the Kampong Trail), in the Kampong. Shawn shared with us a few moments ago that the fruits and garden plants planted along the trail look like the site was a Kampong in the past. And right there, sitting in the park was the treasure we were looking for, a villager of the Kampong. We were exhilarated. He shared with us about the location being there since the 1930s, and it was removed 20 years ago.

This really got me. Can we imagine, had this opportunity not come by, we would lose such a valuable treasure to our natural history. Mr. Tao is 82 years old this year, and stays near Jalan Gaharu. He is an artist, an oil painter. Mr. Tao invited us to his place to visit soon. We found ourselves another Guest Teacher at forest school. I can’t wait to bring our Forest School kiddos to visit his place and explore the people and community of the space.

In a short span of 24 hours, we realised and connected with the land further than the past few months. These great human beings may not know, but they open the portal to the curriculum and environmental learning aspect to Forest School through the communities. Our dream concept is to build a village that would help raise a child, and here in Forest School Singapore (Mayfair Park), the community is being developed in an organic fashion, that makes us feel really glad and grateful. Grateful for the land and the people.

This is Forest School.

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