Take a look at this insight into outdoor education from our Beach Rangers Academy Officer, Brender Willmott as she discusses…….. The way forward for our children’s health and the environment.
It fascinates me that we educate our children primarily in the confines of a square box-like structure with artificial light, air conditioning, regimes that involve serious academic work in the mornings and ‘fun, fluffy’ stuff after lunch! Then we expect them to be mentally and physically fit and healthy, balanced and resilient individuals, who care for themselves and also for their environment – even though they barely get a chance to interact with it during the 5 days they are at school!
We are missing something so intrinsically important, in that we are often not allowing or encouraging children to make that connection with the environment, which research shows has a positive impact on their health and well-being and at the same time nurtures a disposition and conscience around environmental issues.
Children are being diagnosed with Nature Deficit Disorder and GPs are prescribing outdoor activity and time as a positive way to impact on mental health and well-being, but children routinely report that they rarely leave the confines of the classroom to experience learning outside. Teachers report that time and curriculum constraints and confidence in their ability to deliver effective learning outside, are a major issue that generally precludes them stepping beyond their allocated space in school.
However, the good news is that research has shown that Learning Outside the Classroom (LOTC) has real benefits and government policy is now changing to embrace the concept. ‘Increasing evidence through the school improvement agenda shows that learning outside the classroom increases pupil engagement, improves achievement, can progress attainment and links to improved attendance.’
We are lucky that there are some inspirational teachers right here in Cornwall that are a driving force behind getting children out of the classroom, teaching them any and every aspect of the curriculum in a creative and innovative way, happy to share their knowledge and experience through training and workshops. Check out Mr Karl Fice-Thompson and his YouTube channel ‘KFTEDUCATIONAL’ and you might be inspired to become a pirate, a mermaid, an alien or dragon all in the name of education and more importantly our children’s health and well-being!
If you are interested and would like to see children and young people learning outside, as a matter of course and not as a result of Social Prescribing by a GP as they are struggling to cope in an increasingly demanding and difficult world, watch out for Beach Teacher and Crucial Conversation Training workshops, courses on the Community Classroom and Beyond the Classroom. We offer a huge variety of training sessions on Outdoor First Aid, Communication, Marine ID, Beach Safety and many more. Maybe just maybe then we will see some behaviour change that feeds back to adults and has a truly meaningful lasting impact on our environment!