Teaching in nature: engaging and part of learning


Comment by FELICIA JACKSON, chair of the Learn2Think Foundation

Engagement is vital if children are to learn successfully - that’s a given within the educational system.What’s important is that we find new and different ways to engage our children, in as many relevant and interesting ways as possible. This column often talks about the

importance of questioning, and how the process of learning how to question and improving questioning can have a direct

impact on engagement, learning, communication skills, language and respect. There are ways of deepening this engagement that are as simple as paying attention to the stories that are in the news, and taking children outside.

The news has recently been filled with stories about Extinction Rebellion and the impact that the voice of the young can have, such as Greta Thunberg and her call for young people to protest inaction on climate change. Children hear about these things and it’s important to integrate some of the big questions of our time into day to day teaching.

The topic of climate change can be brought into any subjbject with one of the most important questions that exists: why?Why should we care, why does it matter to me, my family, my country?Whether you’re looking at language, geography, history, culture, maths there are always questions about climate change and sustainability to be explored. Such a big topic can be brought down into the realm of the immediate by simply bringing children out into the natural world.

Teaching children outside (weather permitting of course) is an important thing to do for the most surprising of reasons.While obviously children enjoy a change of pace, there may be concerns that it will be distracting and that children will find it hard to settle later. Recent research from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, however, shows not only how lessons outside increase enjoyment and engagement, but also shows how children’s engagement and focus continues even when their classes resume back inside.

Spending time in nature boosts children’s academic achievement and healthy development, concludes the new analysis which examined hundreds of different studies.Ming Kuo, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois and her University ofMinnesota co-authors found that nature boosts learning in eight distinct ways. “We found strong evidence that time in nature has a rejuvenating effect on attention; relieves stress; boosts self-discipline; increases physical activity and fitness; and promotes student self-motivation, enjoyment, and engagement,” Kuo said. “And all of these have been shown to improve learning.”

These effects extend beyond academic achievement, according to the review. Time in nature appears to foster personal skills and qualities important for future success, and may play a critical role in helping children grow up to be environmental stewards.

“Even small exposures to nature are beneficial. If you’re indoors, having a view of your yard as opposed to facing the wall, that makes a difference. At the same time, more is better. That’s one of the things that gives us more confidence that we’re seeing a real cause- and-effect relationship,” Kuo says. “The bigger the dose of nature we give a person, the bigger the effect we see in them.”

TheOnline Harms White Paper

Comment byMARK BENTLEY, London Grid for Learning

considers how to ensure year’s Internet Safety Str

The Government recently published the Online HarmsWhite Paper, which proposes a new regulatory framework for the digital economy in order to protect the public from illegal and harmful internet content. The report succeeds last ategy Green Paper which

be online, what responsibilities companies h role the Government has in supporting the public.

ave to their users and the Britain is a safe place to

So what’s new?What’s changed? And what do you think? You can read the full 102 pages or the shorter executive summary on the Department for Digital, Culture,Media and Sport website. The proposals are open to public consultation, so this presents a great opportunity to respond to a crucial element of safeguarding.We recommend reading the paper and then deciding if you want to reply to the consultation as a school or as an individual.

A key component to take note of is the new regulator for online safety in the UK. This independent overseer will “implement, oversee and enforce the new regulatory framework.” This marks a significant step change for internet companies and soc Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Cultur

for the Telegraph, the “era of self-regulation is over.” If tech companies don’t follow the outlined codes of practice, they will face penalties such as fines.

Read Ofcom’s research on adults: “Internet users’ experience of harm online” for an overview of the dangers theWhite Paper is trying to combat. Its summary of key findings shows:

• 79%of UK adult internet users have concerns about aspects of going online, with:

• 66%concerned about content that people view, read or listen to online

• 58%concerned about data/privacy • 55%concerned about interactions with other users

• 45%of UK adult internet users indicated • 54%concerned about hacking/s/security

experienced some form of online harm

• The broadcast and online regulatory framework is not well understood by a significant proportion of • Views are split on whether current regula

tions are sufficient, or the public

whether more is required. Few believe regulation should be reduced

To find out more about young people’s experiences online, at LGfL DigiSafe we surveyed 40,000 UK pupils and found that:

• Over 50%of pupils said privacy settings should be better, easier stop using apps, sites and

• Nearly one in three pupils say it’s hard to and clearer to understand

games to have a break

• Almost one in six pupils have seen something that encourages self- harm

To spark thought-provoking class dialogue, why not find out what pupils would recommend as a result of the Internet Safety Strategy? For a relevant discussion starter, try using the Disrupted Childhood Report proposals from the 5Rights Foundation on how new apps, sites and games should be planned - including designing services to make it as easy to get offline as it is to go online. Examples include: • Autoplay default off, and if changed, switch back to ‘off’ once a child logs out or navigates away

• Notifications and summonses default off, such as buzzes, read receipts, pings and all other non-specific alerts

• Default streak holidays (and temporary absences from streak-type settings)

Show your class the list and I’m sure there will be plenty of useful feedback! May 2019 12 that they have

e,Media and Sport wrote ial networks: as Jeremy

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