8 Shields Model
The 8 shields model is based on the patterns and cycles found in nature; for example, the sun rising in the East, moving across to the South, dropping down in the West, and resting in the North. This cycle affects our daily schedule and how we feel throughout the day.
The cycle of the four seasons also follows the same pattern that the sun follows. Spring mirrors the sunrise in the East with the sprouting of grass and fragile buds, the heat in mid-day in the South parallels Summer with long days and hot temperatures, the sun setting in the West signals the end of the day and harvest season in Autumn, and the sun resting in the North translates to the short, cold days of winter. We can notice that animal, plants, and humans alike have different behaviours and energy depending on the seasons, and that this cycle can be applied to a plant, animal, and the human life cycle too!
We utilize the 8 shields model to guide our curriculum, harness the natural flow of the day and seasons, and maximize the natural learning journey cycle.
Watching the sunrise can energize us and fill us with inspiration and we start our nature-based program curriculum with the same contagious excitement by playing games and telling inspiring stories that introduce the skills and concepts we will explore throughout the year!
As the sun warms up and kicks life into gear, the natural progression is taking action to bridge excited inspiration to focused learning. During this period, mentors encourage hands-on connection to nature: catchable things, gathering and eating edible plants, climbing trees and rocks, building forts and hideaways, and tending their creations and imagination.
The South represents the full swing of the day, with everyone is in the groove, working hard and staying busy. We look to draw out increased awareness and attention to detail to solve mysteries, practice the art of tracking, push our identification and reasoning skills to a heightened state, and notice patterns to help our learning deepen and widen.
Southwest- Take a Break
The Southwest, represented by late Summer and the sun beginning to set, is a natural time to take care of the physical need for rest and to internalize the learnings that our hard work created. The curriculum at this time is based on slowing down, letting touch and intuition guide the way, and taking time to appreciating our surroundings.
West- Gather and Share
Like a thanksgiving celebration in Fall or coming together for a meal when the sun has set, the West energy is for gathering and sharing. From a curriculum standpoint, it is the time to remove the focused lens and see the greater picture that links everything together. We spend this time using our awareness to understand ecological principles, connect the dots of how things work together, and understand that we can effect positive change for the environment.
The Northwest is the true transition to night-time as darkness generates reflection and release. In our curriculum, it’s a time to reflect on lessons nature teaches us and lessons from our own history and ancestry, as they are a testament to our connection with nature. It’s also a time to connect to heritage species that may go back further than our ancestry can be traced.
During the time of deepest darkness, the energetic quality is of dormancy and culminating wisdom through integration. In our curriculum, it is a time to learn wilderness and survival skills so we can utilize our surroundings in ways that keep us alive.
With the sun moving towards the East, light is slowly entering the world again, creating a transition period from one cycle to the next. The energy of this time sets the tone for new inspiration and a ceremonial (and celebratory) closing of the cycle. In our curriculum, we focus on the messengers of the wilderness, Birds, and tune in to our awareness and scouting skills.