October 5, 2021
Six Questions with Megan Hoekstra
For World Teacher’s Day we are pleased to present Six Questions with Megan Hoekstra, a recent graduate of the Faculty of Education. Megan received her Bachelor of Education in 2021, and was part of the Outdoor Learning cohort. She is passionate about outdoor education, and has published a post with National Geographic entitled, “What can we learn from the trees?” We asked Megan six questions to learn more about her research interests.
What scholarly work are you currently engaged with?
I am a learner who aligns closely with the natural world. I learn through the outdoors and through curiosity; these have led me to follow my sense of wonder and understand the value behind it. I want to provide my students with an education that promotes understanding the world through a curious and outdoor based perspective, and this guided the development of my research question: How does natural curiosity shape the process of environmental learning? This question has been guiding my most current research and will probably be an ongoing inquiry throughout my time as an educator.
What is a research topic you’d like to work on in the future?
There is a significant amount we can learn from our relationship with our senses, so I would like to work on the connection between mindfulness and nature. To explore this further and understand how nature links us socially and emotionally would provide students with a deeper understanding of their interconnectedness with the outdoors. I highly recommend the MindUP Curriculum as a supporting resource.
Who inspires you and why?
Every day, I meet new people who influence and motivate me, especially being in education. Those who consistently inspire me are people who are mindful, follow their passions, challenge my thinking and have a connection to outdoor learning.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of the job is learning with the students. I love sharing their passions, which is why I support natural, curiosity-led education. I believe this style of schooling invests in students’ desire for knowledge and fosters an eagerness to learn.
If you could have a super power what would it be?
I believe teleportation would help me as an educator, because I would be able to see the world through many perspectives as I connect with the locals wherever I travel. This would help me understand a wider variety of cultures, aid in unlearning harmful beliefs I may hold, help me become more empathetic and learn new things to put in my educator toolkit.
What does the outdoors mean to you?
The outdoors is who I am. The qualities that guide me are my natural curiosity and my integrity, and I bring a holistic approach to what I learn and those I meet. From my earliest memories, I enjoyed connecting my senses to the outdoors: I looked at plants and wanted to taste them, I felt the moss and the dirt in between my toes as I ran off the pathway of the forest walks my family and I went on. I became linked to an environment that provided for me and fed my thirst for knowledge. My natural curiosity guides me and shapes me, keeping me grounded and determined to receive more from this earth.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.