Outdoor Learning

“Taking learning outside the classroom and into the natural environment provides the opportunity for an integrated, cross-curricular approach to achieving education aims.”

Marchant, E., et. al (2019)

At Christway College Wyndham, we use Outdoor Learning within our curriculum to enhance and deepen our students’ understanding of things they are currently learning in other subjects. Here students experience two standard periods a week outside, learning their current curriculum in the outdoor environment. Examples of this include teaching Math lessons addressing counting, multiplication, 3D and 2D shapes, Integrated lessons on Science, History and Indigenous culture, or literacy where the outdoors could be used as a writing piece stimulus or as a team-building space.

The main purpose of delivering lessons in this way is to prepare students for 21st-century employment. As the manual labour market declines, we see the demand for a new type of worker. Learning in this way gives students opportunities for developing skills in, problem-solving, creativity, collaboration and risk-taking. The focus is to remove the lens that the classroom provides for the students learning to process the subject matter and immerse the child in the real world and experience it themselves. It does not emphasize the outcomes of pedagogies such as ‘Outdoor Education’ although it may use similar methods from time to time and is not outdoor ‘play time’ as each lesson is anchored to a highly sequenced but flexible ‘lesson plan’ with specific learning outcomes.

There are three main elements that Christway College teachers draw from to achieve learning using the outdoors. These include using the outdoor environment as a teaching location, teaching resources and inspiration for student creativity. As a location, the outdoor environment provides students with a learning space that stimulates their five senses. Here they formulate their own questions about what surrounds them. In a classroom, teachers use wall displays, books or computer research to simulate this but often can be less authentic. It is a resource as it provides students with real-life examples to create solutions to problems including sticks, rocks, plant matter, creatures and their habitats.

Student engagement is heightened by experiencing these things directly as opposed to experiencing them second-hand in a classroom. As an inspiration, a student in this environment can be encouraged to ask their own questions about the topics being taught and follow these questions through to their own inquiry projects. Here they will learn about something that interests them as opposed to the subject matter that is imposed on them. Combining these three elements Outdoor Learning has become a highly effective, innovative, and engaging part of the Christway College learning program.

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