At Greenline, our mantra is that we refuse to see Australia become an indoors country. We craft carefully designed spaces to enable our Australian love of fresh air and natural light to continue safely. There is now strong evidence suggesting that these spaces have a value that reaches much further than enjoyment and recreation. Concerns that children may be losing more than bush skills and suntans as they cut back on their time outside are leading some Australian schools to implement outdoor education programs to help redress the balance.
Outdoor education creates opportunities to teach self-reliance, interdependence and leadership, the nurturing of an adventurous spirit, managing personal risks, safe journeys in nature, the value of life-long outdoor recreation for enjoyment, health and well-being, understanding nature through direct experience, and for developing deeper human-nature relationships.
Providing students with direct personal experience with nature in a way that promotes the enjoyment of outdoor activity can be the beginning of a relationship with outdoor recreation and nature experiences that will last their whole lifetime.
Anne Knock, Education Consultant at Culture | Learning | Design says “I am passionate about making a difference to the experience of school, improving opportunities for children and young people. In my work, I consider how the design of learning environments, the approaches to learning and school leadership can grow future-focused schools.”
“We believe that an innovative learning environment allows new ways of learning – in a form that is not possible in a closed classroom,” she says.
Dr James Neill, a lecturer at the Centre of Applied Psychology at the University of Canberra, believes Australian children benefit greatly from being involved in outdoor education.
‘’In an ideal society we wouldn’t need outdoor education, it would just be a part of life, but the fact is, it’s not,” he says.
The benefits of outdoor education have been well documented overseas. The American author who coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder’’, Richard Louv, spruiks the academic, physical and social benefits of enabling students to return to the outdoors.
“As young people spend less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow, physiologically and psychologically, and we deny them access to a fundamental part of their humanity.”
Louv is also the architect of the ‘’no child left inside’’ movement – says a push to get more children outside is a response to a growing realisation that many children are having fewer opportunities to play or learn outdoors. He says a significant percentage of school districts in the US have eliminated recess, so opportunities for going beyond the school walls is increasingly diminishing.
Louv says that when students learn about any topic in an outdoor setting, including those unrelated to the environment, they perform better.
• Stimulate the senses
• Connect learning
• Provide a range of environments for your students to interact within
• Have materials that enable exploration of thinking
• Facilitate working together
Supplementing classroom teaching can provide a memory enhancing focal point – at Greenline, we hope to stimulate thinking within schools for a whole school approach to Outdoor Education either integrated with other learning areas (particularly Health and Physical Education) or as a standalone strand that delivers aspects of other learning areas.