Why Learn Outdoors? #Callingitout

#CallingItOut  Outdoors might be the best place to learn.

‘The outdoor environment has massive potential for learning. We are extremely fortunate to have such rich urban and rural environments on our doorsteps and our children and young people’s learning experiences can be enhanced by maximising the potential of the outdoors. The Scottish Government is keen to see all our children and young people having positive learning experiences in a variety of settings.’  Scottish Government  Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning

#CallingItOut Why do schools default to learning Indoors; sitting stationary, with restricted space to move or make noise or mess. With very limited access to natural light, fresh air, real objects, artefacts, sounds, smells or problems; instead viewing secondhand representations of the real world through books or screens.  First hand experiences of the complexity, interdependence and uncertainty of real life are challenging if not impossible to simulate in a classroom box.

After all, everyone’s favourite school teacher was Mrs Naa!

M– Mess
R– Risk
S– Space
N– Noice
A– Artefacts
A– Authenticity

Indoor classroom learning possibly evolved in response to affordable learner teacher ratios, standardised inputs, subject mores, paper and timetables. And less as the ideal place to learn something.

#CallingItOut  “Isn’t it ironic”- despite our continuous  improvement journey to reduce learning inequity, that the ‘classroom’ is still sacrosanct.  Has familiarity so blinded us to the imperfections of mass learning, through easily moderated artificial secondhand experience indoors, that we consider first hand learning in context, in the real world, as the extra bolt on bit?

#CallingItOut However this is also a caution! Outdoors may have many virtues, but all outdoor learning is not equal. The same overfamiliarity and efficiency imperatives can lead to mass produced unauthentic outdoor experience. Whilst often still motivational because of the novelty, outdoor learning overly focused on an activity or a setting, can risk loosing the learner and their learning, the awe and wonder of the wider world.

So aside from more engaging & meaningful learning, why Outdoors?

#CallingItOut  Multiple joined up other benefits: Healthier, Safer, Greener, Wealthier & Fairer… are all possible, simultaneously, whilst learning outdoors!

#CallingItOut  Modern human bodies and brains have evolved by surviving and excelling in the natural world for well over 10,000 generations. By comparison the artificial indoors, light and heat, that is our normal has only been our natural habitat for maybe 5 generations, and our technological normal is only 1 or 2  generations.  As such research increasingly suggests that our brains and bodies unsurprisingly still respond, relax and restore most effectively in outdoor, especially natural, places.

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