Changing Exit to Entrance Signs

 In Wild Pedagogy

I think it was a student who had the idea. I can’t remember how it happened. The idea was to acknowlege the “radical” (if thats the right word in our Outdoor Education class.

It was an evening class, a three hour slot. Somehow the idea to make 81/2″ x 11″ paper signs that said ENTRANCE and to put them with tape on all the EXIT signs in the building seemed to bring a strong energy to the room. Class members in groups, excited, took chairs and taped up the ENTRANCE signs. Perhaps before they were ripped down by annoyed custodial staff, people would get the point. Heck, perhaps the custodial staff got the point and left the paper ENTRANCE signs linger a little longer. The point: if Nature is Primary and all else is derivative” as Thomas Beery has said, then the EIT sign leads to the “out-of-doors” is all wrong. We should all be entering nature as primary not exiting; but it wouldn’t fly with Fire Marshall’s everywhere. I get it. Still the energy of the student subterfuge was a wild pedagogy moment in action. Decades later, I meet a former student who quickly reminisced “I remember when you had us change EXIT signs to ENTRANCE signs. That was really great!” I like to think this turn of mind/this inversion has influenced members of that group. It certainly has stayed with me.

I might add as an afterthought, I recently had a student of decades past meet me randomly. She commented with a “I remember you had us do …..” and I didn’t remember. I guess the inversion wasn’t a strong enough one for me at that time BUT it was for her. Like Arne Naess’s Eco sophy T, we are all at different places in terms of cultivating personal ecological consciousness. The EXIT sign shift was, I think, a starting point for some and a wild pedagogy teaching moment for all.

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