ella-ivanescu-EvjDP3hprI8-unsplash

The Currency of Trust

Using the Stock and Flow to explore the need for and value of trust in a high-risk environment.
AUTHORS | CONTRIBUTORS

Alex Hall-Gray and Will Patz

Access: Master Practitioners and Practitioners

This example uses the Stock and Flow tool within a Forest School setting - providing students with a visual and kinaesthetic representation of the need for and value of Trust in a high-risk environment.

 It uses the idea of trust as the fundamental unit of currency in this relationship between practitioner and participants and within the group of participants themselves . The Stock and Flow has proven to be highly effective in articulating this correspondence. It fits in well with the iterative cycle of learning that naturally occurs in the Forest School environment, becoming a real boon in supporting development of reflective thought processes, risk management and the lateral skills required for scientific inquiry.

This example was shared by Dulwich College Forest School – DUCKS in Singapore.

The philosophy of Forest School is to encourage and inspire children through outdoor play and learning in a woodland setting. Forest School uses the woods and forests as a means to build independence and self-esteem in children. The opportunity to learn through nature sees children flourish in a range of skills, not least language and literacy. The natural environment gives children an opportunity to take measured risks, collaborate with peers, design their own challenges and problem-solve. At DUCKS, we have a beautiful orchard where children in the Early Years go to Forest School on a weekly basis with our Forest School leader. Activities might include making a bird feeder, building a den, or digging a trench for a dragon. Children in Key Stage 1 also make use of this facility and can work, plan, investigate and learn in the orchard over a range of different topics, the most popular being the opportunity to toast marshmallows on a camp fire.


Trust as a fundamental unit of currency

Authentic learning within a Forest School requires trust and responsibility. This example uses the Stock and Flow tool within this Forest School setting as a way to provide students with a visual and kinaesthetic representation of the need for and value of trust in a high-risk environment.

It uses the idea of trust as the fundamental unit of currency in this relationship between practitioner and participants and within the group of participants themselves . The Stock and Flow has proven to be highly effective in articulating this correspondence. It fits in well with the iterative cycle of learning that naturally occurs in the Forest School environment, becoming a real boon in supporting development of reflective thought processes, risk management and the lateral skills required for scientific inquiry.

When operating a Forest School, the primary goal is to cultivate tenacious, inquisitive, and authentically engaged participants who can recognise and mitigate the risks inherent in both their environment and chosen activity. The fundamental unit of currency in this relationship between practitioner/participants and within the group of participants themselves is trust. One Tool which has proven to be highly effective in articulating this correspondence is the Stock and Flow. As this is Forest School and we don’t have access to screens or charts it has to be executed visually and kinaesthetically – in this case through the medium of a number of shiny silver buckets.   

Session outline

At the beginning of the first session of any new cohort, the participants are introduced to the idea that they can access the full gamut of sharp tools, fire kit and hazardous equipment when they have shown they can be trusted. The requisites of being trusted are outlined as ‘keeping yourself, your friends and your forest school safe’.

At the conclusion of the first session (and each session afterwards) the Forest School Leader (FSL) sits all of the participants down in the basecamp (a log circle usually) and prompts them to ask the person next to them what they have enjoyed doing during the session (active listening, in the same vein as a check-in). Each participant then has the opportunity to share with the group what their partner enjoyed. The FSL listens to the answers and once concluded, brings out a number of shiny silver buckets – one for each time they have observed a participant actively keep themselves, their friends or the Forest School safe during the session. They explain that each bucket is a unit of trust that can contain a single Forest School item (saws, axes, knives, ropes, hammocks, fire making equipment, etc), then ask the participants if any of what they have done today might be improved if they had access to any of these tools (promoting iterative learning and hypothesis). They also explain that at the end of the next session that trust may be increased by their actions (stock) or it may diminish if they are not using their skills to keep themselves safe with those tools (flow). This leads into discussion over what might be the dangers inherent in the selected tool’s use and how they might be mitigated to an acceptable degree. Once the participants have come to a conclusion, aired their ideas and the buckets filled with the desired and rationalised equipment the session ends.

During each consecutive session participants are able to use the equipment they selected at the end of the last. They are observed by both the FSL and their peers as to whether they are managing the inherent risks to an acceptable degree. At the end of each session the participants go through the process of discussing whether they maintained or broke the trust required for each bucket. If all trust was maintained through diligent risk management (keeping themselves, their friends and the Forest School safe) then another bucket is added to the total. If any trust was lost the corresponding bucket is removed for the next session. Once the amount of remaining units of trust has been calculated, the participants go through the process of active listening and allocating what would most benefit their partner in furthering their explorations.    

Forest school pedagogy and Compassionate Integrity naturally compliment one-another, but the independently child-led and iterative nature of Forest School pedagogy limits directed group input to the first and last few fleeting moments of a session. The Stock and Flow tool fits in well with the iterative cycle of learning that naturally occurs in the Forest School environment, becoming a real boon in supporting development of reflective thought processes, risk management and the lateral skills required for robust scientific inquiry.

AUTHORS | CONTRIBUTORS


Dulwich College (Singapore)

Head of DUCKS Physical Education
Dulwich, Singapore