How can you teach math without a chalkboard or textbooks? Can a child really learn in the rain? How can a BMX track be educational?

Found In The Forest is a documentary that explores all of these questions and more at the Environmental School, a new public school in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada which opened its doors in the fall of 2011. Still in its infancy, the Environmental School is a place where teachers, administrators, researchers, parents, and students are working together to develop a rich and unique learning environment while challenging conventional educational models.

The film investigates learning styles, ecological involvement, class structure, and the impact of outdoor learning on children.

As the parent of a child attending the school, Filmmaker and Photographer Craig Cerhit is able to explore every aspect of the school with unfettered access. By following the students over a two year period and interviewing all of the key participants, Found In The Forest is an important contribution to the critical discussion of what an education is, how it is delivered, and what that means for our children and society.

"I was not immediately on-board with sending my son to an outdoor school that was play-based and place-based. It was a very different concept to what I was used to growing up in the conventional education system. I assumed the weather, lack of apparent structure and traditional classrooms would make it very difficult to learn anything. As a storyteller, this film was my way of, not only answering my questions about the school, but also digging deep into how we learn.  Keeping an open mind about the school was key and we put a lot of trust in the teachers and administrators. Found In The Forest is my education on education." - Craig Cerhit

" Since August 2008, the project has been working to bring together the community of Maple Ridge to establish a public K-7 school and learning centre. The theory and practice of the project is supported by Place-Based, Imaginative and Ecological Education. Learning and teaching will be experiential, in context, and through activities that engage the mind, body, and heart. The project is based in principles of inquiry and inclusion. Teaching and learning will involve reconnecting the natural and human worlds. The project is a partnership between several community groups, School District 42 Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows, and Simon Fraser University. The university-based research is funded through an environmental Community-University Research Alliance grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada." (source:

Chapter index

  1. How The School Formed
  2. Why The Need for Change?
  3. Mixed Grades    
  4. Place Based Learning
  5. Being Outdoors    
  6. Weather Challenges    
  7. Eco-Education    
  8. Experiential Learning    
  9. Math    
  10. Learning at the BMX track
  11. Kids Not Knowing They Are Learning    
  12. The Role Of Community    
  13. What Child Is The School For?    
  14. Judging Success    
  15. Transition to High School    
  16. Hopes For The School

Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes