Natural learning + learning about nature
On this blog, we’ve written extensively about following our interests as the foundation of my son’s education (natural learning + unschooling). We’ve also written about learning through virtue of traveling, being curious in the world and consciously processing new experiences into a “learning opportunity”.
Miro and I are both gifted with a natural curiosity which keeps us asking why, where and how? As a result, we are both committed to perusing knowledge based on the constant stream of inquiry inspired through every new experience.
We recently looked up and studied the biology and history of the llamas, alpacas and vicunuas because well, they are everywhere here in Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
For example, did you know the original Camelid ancestor evolved in the North American plains area and migrated Asia and South America? From there it’s hypothesized that they evolved further into the different genus, Vicunas, Camels, and Guanacos. Perhaps during the age of Pangaea?
Nature has been an incredible teacher for both of us. We wanted to share a few examples of how nature has influenced our learning.
Miro and I have made friends with an ethnobotanist here in Peru. Through this connection, it’s opened up a whole new way of thinking about plants. Ethnobotony is the study of the relationship between humans and plants, a truly fascinating perspective.
Scott, an amateur ethnobotanist, has guided many nature walks here in Peru. Together, we’ve explored the markets and have learned about the complex relationship cultures both ancient and modern, forge with native plants. To make matters a little more interesting, we’ve learned about plants that have been used as entheogens throughout time, medicinal plants, dyes and even used as currency for trade. It’s been fascinating and for both Miro and I and what makes our learning even richer, was the privilege of finding to a mentor that shared the world of plants with us.
We’ve been immersed in several conservation projects from the beginning of our travels. The conservation movement, also known as “nature conservation”, is defined as a political, environmental and a social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including animals, fungus and plant species as well as their habitat for the future.
The many conservation sites we have visited and volunteered at include the Amazon jungle, an island in Belize and Mexico and an animal conversation project near Pisac, called the Santuario de Ccohahuasi . Last week we visited the site for the third time and always support their mission to save the endangered species, especially the condors.
The Santuario de Ccohahuasi focuses it’s energy towards educating both local children and tourists alike about saving one of the most important cultural icons in Peru, the condors.
Two places high on our wish list to visit in the future both focus on conservation include is the Great Barrier Reef National Park in Australia and Iguazu Falls in Argentina. We’ll get there someday, for sure.
Permaculture is another discipline we’ve been exposed to. It is the practice of intentional design systems inspired by nature that promotes sustainability. Permaculture is based on ethics that guide the individual, the community to go ‘beyond sustainability’. Personally, I am familiar with these principles because for many years before we began our travels, I owned a branding agency that focused on campaigns for green-eco companies. But to see the idea of permaculture in real life, in practice, gave me that “aha” response that transforms our experiences into a deep learning for both Miro and myself.
One example was visiting a family farm in the community of Chinchero. We spent the day with the family, learning their traditional art of weaving. But more interesting to us was the closed system of sustainability they lived within.
The family in the video harvested potatoes for food, herded llamas and sheep for their wool and grew plants serving as natural dyes. It is a closed system of sustainability, a tradition surviving potentially hundreds of years. It was a small example of permacutlure within an indigenous culture and a lesson that both Miro and I try to apply to our lives.
Transforming our travels into natural learning experiences
There are numerous ways nature has taught us and continues to teach us.
And we’ve committed to staying open to them.
In the big picture, we adopt ethics of sustainability, conservation and respect our relationship to nature . We try apply these principles in our daily life and our travels with the goal of transitioning from being dependent consumers to responsible producers.
This journey through nature builds skills and models resilience at home and within the local communities we travel within. I believe through these lessons, nature will help us prepare for an uncertain future and educate Miro in a way he might not have considered before.