The Natural World Forms an Extension of the Classroom

The Natural World Forms an Extension of the Classroom

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. John Muir

Using nature as a classroom gives students a hands-on learning experience, allowing them to explore their senses in the world around them. Woodland is an ideal environment as the diversity and abundance of natural resources, facilitates learner-led discovery. Students formulate questions based on their direct experience, creating a vital way of learning that links to the here and now. We also plan to create a permaculture project in association with Pennine Heritage in the woods located behind the school.

Being in nature, students come into contact with the wild, allowing their instinctive nature to be present and listened to. Experiencing their union to the world around them and its interconnectedness is fundamental to realising themselves fully as human beings.

An overview of research into outdoor education by King’s College London found that children who spend time learning in natural environments “perform better in reading, mathematics, science and social studies.” (1) Exploring the natural world “makes other school subjects rich and relevant and gets apathetic students excited about learning.”

Fieldwork in the countryside, a British study finds, improves long-term memory (2). Dozens of papers report sharp improvements in attention when children are exposed to wildlife and the great outdoors (3).

References:

  1. Kings College, London. April 2011.
    Understanding the diverse benefits of learning in natural environments.
    Commissioned by Natural England.
  2. Stuart Nundy, 2001.
    Raising achievement through the environment: the case for fieldwork and field centres.
    National Association of Field Studies Officers.
    Cited by Kings College, London, as above.
  3. Many of them are listed here: William Bird, 2007.
    Natural Thinking: investigating the links between the natural environment, biodiversity and mental health. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.