The Learning Renaissance

The Benefits of Outdoor Education


A constant criticism of classroom-based learning is that it divorces reality from the experience of learning. Learning is a second-hand experience – moderated by the teacher of the content of books or visual media.

When I was involved in the Building Schools for the Future programme, there was considerable interest in trying to extend the learning experience, initially by utilising the school grounds.  There were certain notable exceptions, such as rural and suburban schools in Nottinghamshire that kept animals and encouraged students to take responsibility for their care, but generally such practice, and that of keeping an allotment, have disappeared in most British schools.

The BSF programme began to re-introduce them both as extra curricular and curricular activities. I was involved in the specification for one new Academy which had NHS Trust sponsorship and a focus on the medical sciences, which intended building rural studies into the curriculum as part of an active science and PE programme. Other schools explored the concept of the outdoor classroom which would allow students to study in the outdoors and expand the learning spaces, in one case to enable drama in the round.

Primary schools have generally been more sensitive to this approach, creating micro-environments with ponds and sympathetic planting designed to encourage wildlife.

The benefits of outdoor education, whether it takes place on the school site, in the local neighbourhood, or on residential visits are myriad.

  • It ensures that learning is grounded in reality
  • It enables student led learning where they can hypothesise and test the impact of their ideas in real spaces with outcomes that matter
  • It connects students with the world of nature and food
  • It enables students to value the environment and understand the relationships and dependencies of each part of it
  • It encourages healthy lifestyles
  • It acts as a test bed for new learning styles

This article from Edutopia outlines some salient features: 5 Benefits of Outdoor Education by Michael Becker | Edutopia

Read more here: Why should children play outside? | CBeebies

About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world.

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