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Outdoor learning Into the WILD T

he importance of getting children out of the classroom and into the natural environment has long been recognised as an important part of a child’s education. Nowadays, with children more aware than ever of the environmental impact of their actions, many schools in the UK are using new-found financial freedoms and even the Pupil Premium to give their children a taste of what it means to be at one with nature. The benefits are many and various – from encouraging a greater understanding of nature, to building teamwork and ultimately, giving children the lead in decision making and leadership. Education Today spoke to three schools active in the provision of outdoor learning, in its many forms, to their pupils.

ACS Cobham International School

Chris Hupp, third grade teacher and outdoor education expert at ACS Cobham International School, explores the importance of rewilding students.

‘Rewilding’, a term borrowed from Project Wild Thing, a campaign to actively encourage children to explore the outdoors, inspires students to connect with their surrounding environment. Rewilding in education means that students are exposed to natural processes and ‘core wilderness areas’ that all children should encounter in their formative years; these include exploring outdoors, seeking adventurous opportunities, gaining a deep connectivity to nature and developing a sense of place, among other things. Making outdoor education an everyday element to schooling, breaks downs the disconnection with the world beyond the classroom, which can

sometimes develop when children are indoors for long periods. At ACS Cobham we have witnessed student motivation levels rise when outdoor learning becomes a core component of lesson activities as students enjoy the exploration of their local surroundings. Learning should be made coherent and meaningful for students throughout the day, offering opportunities for student-led inquiry, enjoyment of learning, and cultivating global citizenship. Through rewilding in education, teachers can restore the connectivity between the curriculum and daily classroom schedules, helping students engage with their learning on a deeper level.

Similarly, the outdoor environment can significantly impact classroom learning by developing a whole range of skills that help students become more successful learners. Children engage in activities that encourage perseverance, cooperation, empathy, creative

16 May 2014

thinking, and leadership—skills that are often difficult to cultivate inside the walls of the classroom. School culture and classroom dynamics can change dramatically when teachers begin to understand that the outdoor

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