For this blog post, I am going to look at Outdoor Education in particular comparing Sweden and the UK (in particular St Ninians, Stirling).
After our lecture inputs Brenda, I found myself in awe at Sweden and their approach to learning. I am very keen to learn more about outdoor education and this is what I intend to do with my learning from life placement this year hopefully as well as just getting a part time job with links to outdoor learning.
I found myself eager to complete the TDT tasks for the comparative education with Sweden yesterday and realised how far behind the UK actually are in terms of outdoor education. I remember being in primary seven and the class asking to go and learn outside about a topic and being told we couldn’t as it hadn’t been risk assessed. However, Sweden on the other hand, totally trust their system, pupils and most importantly the teachers to not do anything that would cause huge amounts of risk.
Today however, I just read an article (The Running Revolution) about a school in Stirling, Scotland which prompted this blog post. St Ninians School have recently made the news around Scotland for the fact they now have no children with childhood obesity and they have also managed to increase concentration in class. Their secret. The great outdoors. As cringey as that sounds – it works in Sweden and it is clearly working in Stirling. In Sweden, the teachers state that getting outdoors for at least half of the school day in preschool builds good health in children. Whilst at St Ninians this has proved that even getting outdoor for a small part of the day has improved the health of children by reducing the amount of children with childhood obesity to zero. St Ninians have spent the last three years having a daily mile – this is where they get their children outside to walk or run a mile every day. The teachers choose when in the day they do it, whenever fits best with their timetable for the day. The only thing that stops the classes doing their daily mile is heavy rain or ice.
The teachers and the children both clearly benefit from this scheme – the teachers have commented on how much the children enjoy going out for the daily mile or it would not be maintainable with their enjoyment. The teachers and children both benefit from the increased focus and concentration in the classroom as well. Therefore it shows that taking 15 minutes away from teaching time can clearly impact positively on the learning time in the class. In Sweden, the teachers cannot believe that the children especially in early years education are not getting outdoors to play and enjoy childhood. St Ninians, Stirling clearly are edging towards this aspect of outdoor education and enjoyment with the children at their school with even just a very small proportion of the day.
In my opinion, I believe that this shows that outdoor education clearly positively impacts on the learning, health and concentration of children at school. Both Sweden and Stirling have been able to prove this statement. Sweden tops European League tables in literacy by the age of 10 and Stirling have been able to banish childhood obesity from their schools. Other schools in the UK are beginning to take notice to Outdoor Learning, more now due to the success at St Ninians which is a positive but slow start compared to Sweden.
I have left a link to the Guardian newspaper in a hyperlink above in case anyone wishes to find up a little bit more about St Ninians and their daily mile.