Teaching in the nude

This item isn’t new. It appeared in March 2004. But since we were just talking about what a neat place Denmark is for naturists, it seems like a good time to mention it here.

Teaching in the Nude: The Danish Experience

This is an essay by an American college exchange student, Wendy Scharf, of St. Lawrence University. An education major, in 2001 she studied in Denmark under the Danish International Study Program

As part of her studies in child development and diversity, Wendy got to help teach a class of four-year-olds.

So there I was, standing in the locker room. There were eight four-year-olds (boys and girls) the two teachers (both women, around the age of twenty-five) and me. It was a Wednesday, which means it is a swim day. As everyone around me began shedding his or her clothes, I felt my heart skip a beat as I wondered where I was going to change.

”Um. Do I just take off my clothes and change right in front of the children?” I asked, sheepishly.

”Well, unless you plan to swim in your clothes, I think it would be a good idea to take off your clothes!” was the Danish response. They were not used to my cultural views on nudity, but I was. Well, seeing as I did not want the children to think I was strange, I took a deep breath and stripped down.

Although the teachers and children didn’t swim in the nude, no one other than Wendy gave a second thought to showering nude before and after. And then it was time for a sauna.

Once I entered the steamy box, I was greeted by naked people – they were everywhere! I glanced around, hoping to find someone with a towel wrapped around them, but no luck.

Everyone was sitting on their towels. So, I did like the majority. I consciously smoothed my towel on the bench and sat down, fully exposed, between two of the children. I just sat there, aware of how naked I was, aware of the fact that there was no part of my body hidden from anyone’s view. We must have sat there for about twenty minutes. Just sitting, stark naked, in a sauna with eight four-year-olds and two teachers – a classroom field trip.

That twenty minutes may have seemed a lot longer to Wendy at the time. But of course it isn’t long at all, and yet it had a dramatic effect on her.

I look at my self naked in a different way now. When I am naked, I am just naked. Roaming around in the nude with a group of people who find it normal is such a mind opening experience. I was the only one in the locker room who felt uncomfortable, no one else thought anything of my nakedness. And this has made me view nudity in a different way, in a more positive way. I recommend this sort of experience for everyone!

My Danish experience with teaching in the nude is one I will never forget, and it is one I cannot fully explain in words, hence the word experience. But I often wonder, will I one day get to teach in the nude? I could just imagine! But I will probably have to stick with wandering around my dorm room naked – it is good to start small when converting to the nudist way! Only in Denmark do you come home with such a tradition – just wait until my family sees what I have picked up over here!

This is how just one good experience with nudity can affect intelligent, open-minded people. Anyone who hasn’t tried naturism and has been afraid to but is curious about it should read this story. Even if one isn’t in a situation like Wendy’s, when presented an opportunity to try social nudity, the best advice is just to dive right in, and don’t look back.

What’s even more interesting about this story is that this “official” website promoting a Danish educational experience to American college students evidently chose Wendy’s essay with the idea of making their program appeal to American students. It suggests they wanted to get the attention of students who could appreciate the horizon-broadening possibilities of a Danish experience.

Now, if we could just ship all of our students over there for a semester or two of this. Just might open a few eyes and minds to enjoying nudity rather than fearing it. Minds that are a bit more open might do wonders for our American educational system.

Originally posted September 14, 2005