It’s been four years when I first tried to explore that topic as my Mteach practice-based enquiry (PBE) module; I was not sure about how much importance ‘outdoor learning’ has in adolescents’ cognitive development and engagement with the world. We always believe that children should provide a healthy and safe learning environment and for us ‘healthy and safe’ means no outside encounter. In my research Learning Outside the Classroom – Students Responses and Learning Outcomes, I explain how exposure to outdoor helps adolescents to engage in an experiential mode of learning. The significant outcome of my research was individuals who spent more time in natural environments as kids appeared to have better mental health outcomes in their adulthood. This correlation between the cognitive benefits of outdoor learning and Kids intellectual development is not new; infect researcher identified this relationship since ages. John Burroughs (1837-1921) and Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring (1962) believed that spending more and more time with the natural environment helps young minds to articulate new information quickly and effectively instead of spending time inside the home. Burroughs (1913) wrote in his book The Summit of the Years ‘I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. I have loved the feel of the grass under my feet, and the sound of the running streams by my side. The hum of the wind in the tree-tops has always been good music to me, and the face of the fields has often comforted me’.
Unfortunately, recent studies found the outdoor exposure are now becoming deprioritising for parents and adults. Myriam Preuss believes that ‘participants with lower childhood exposure to nature gave lesser importance to natural environments. Apart from the parent’s insecure attitude towards outdoor learning, technology also plays a crucial role, making it hard for kids to have outdoor experience during their childhood. Moreover, in many countries, outdoor learning activities are not part of the general school curriculum. Resulting in not providing enough opportunities for students to experience and learn from surrounding nature.
A Word for Parents and Adults
As a teacher, I want to ask you some questions; Did you ever spend some time in natural outdoor environments during childhood?
Does your child have access to green spaces like parks and gardens or blue areas like rivers and ponds? Have you or any of your family member ever spend some time with your young ones near the ocean, a lake, or National Parks?
If your answer to any of the above questions is ‘No’ then it’s time for you to step forward and think about the following issues your child might have right now:
- What if one of the reasons for your child’s aggressive behaviour in the classroom is the lack of natural exposure or,
- What if one of the reasons why your child is having difficulty concentrating in lessons because he/she never been to such a calm and peaceful environment before.
So, do you still think getting dirty is unhealthy? Think again, share your views in the below comment box.