A few of my friends in Brooklyn signed their kids up for The Brooklyn Forest School a year ago, right after I moved to the ‘burbs, and they raved about it. Raved! It does sound great: everyone meets in Prospect Park to play in the mud and build forts out of sticks. Kids get to just be kids in a city where very few kids have personal green space and a chance to just run around and be bonkers. It’s great. What a wonderful opportunity, especially because I keep reading articles and books about how kids just need to be outside–not climbing on playground equipment, not playing organized sports, and certainly not sitting on pavement. Just being outside, in nature, as has been the way with kids for the past tens of thousands of years. That was a big reason why we moved to the suburbs, where we have an awesome and kind of dangerous yard (more on that later) that can keep a toddler busy for hours:
So, yeah, the idea of a forest school is great.
It’s $30 for every 90-minute session. For a “school” that doesn’t pay for any building space, or for any materials, except for the tiny white ceramic cups that the toddlers drink tea out of for snack time (toddlers! White ceramic tea cups?!?). And the whole idea of a Waldorf school (which is what the forest school is based on) is that teachers are hands-off and let the kids explore on their own. (As a former teacher, I will say that this is actually an insanely awesome business model–charge a bunch, have zero actual bills to pay, and you have zero lesson planning to do when you get home)
It’s just bewildering to me that they can charge this much for something a parent can, and should, do themselves. For free. Like, isn’t that the whole point of being in nature? To just be in nature? Are we really at the point where we have to have someone teach it to us? For $30 a session? Apparently we are, because there was not only a NYTimes article about it, but there are some 200 kids signed up for this class now?
I’m taking Clementine for a walk in the reservation tomorrow. No question. Good lord. I can’t deal with this world. Or, at the very least, I can no longer deal with weird Brooklyn people who try every which way to live like they’re in the country while they’re actually living in the most crowded city in the United States.