01 May 2015

...Learning Outside the Classroom

The countdown has begun.  In three weeks' time I'll be packed up and heading off to the Brecon Beacons with a group of trainee teachers from the University of East London.  We will be spending two nights among the mountains, waterfalls and caves.  By day we will be finding out what educational experiences the great outdoors has to offer.

In preparation for my visit I thought I'd draw together my current knowledge and understanding of outdoor education.  And where better to start than the Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto (LOtC) published by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC, of course).

The Council is essentially a charitable organisation promoting the value of learning experiences beyond the walls of the classroom.  They draw together research and good practice, provide training and resources, and hand out the LOtC Mark to schools which demonstrate commitment to developing opportunities for their pupils to learn outside their classrooms.

The benefits of LOtC are perhaps obvious.  Outdoor education can provide powerful, memorable learning experiences.  The sense of adventure, the unexpected and/or the unknown, and even the nature of the weather all serve to enhance learning experiences.  The manifesto (DfES, 2006) points to the positive impact this can have on pupils' feelings, values and behaviours, and the deeper understanding which can result.  And if we combine conclusions about improving pupil attainment with the potential health benefits, we've a strong case for supporting the LOtC cause.

However there's a problem aligning my visit with the claims of the manifesto. My one-off trip to an outdoor education centre, for an intensive, isolated  three-day experience doesn't reflect the holistic principle of LOtC...
As an essential way of learning it should not be restricted to the summer or as an ‘add-on’ after examinations.  Learning outside the classroom should be built into planning for all learners, every week and all year round.  (CLOtC, 2015) 
The Learning Outside the Classroom Activities Target Diagram, also published on the council's website, provides a succinct overview of what this might entail - how teachers can plan meaningful, often referred to as 'authentic', experiences for their pupils.  It hopefully speaks for itself to demonstrate how an annual trip away is but one of many potential learning opportunities which teachers can provide for the pupils in their care.

Next post soon...

References & Further Reading

CLOtC (2015) What is LOtC? Available at: http://www.lotc.org.uk/what-is-lotc/ (Accessed: 1 May 2015)

DfES (2006) The Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto. Available at: http://www.lotc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/G1.-LOtC-Manifesto.pdf (Accessed: 1 May 2015)

1 comment:

  1. Outdoor education can't be underestimated. One has to pay more attention to it. Lessons beyond the walls of the classroom cause to unlimited thinking. Students usually benefit from being involved into different activities. learning outside the classroom


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