Both individuals and communities can enjoy physical and psychological benefits by the connection with nature and the surrounding environment. Indeed scholars were encouraged to believe Outdoor Education is a successful teaching method that offers students the opportunity to experience a different way to connect with themselves and other matches by improving social skills but also to think more about the issues of climate change and other problems in the environment and to respect it.
The new edition of the course “Outdoor education: a new way of teaching and learning” took place in Palermo from 8/10/2023 to 14/10/2023. The participants came from Slovakia and Estonia, with Alexandra and Marianna from Materskà škola and Kaia from Tallinna Lilleküla Gümnaasium .
Starting from the definition of Outdoor Education, the participants explored the various ways in which they can guide their students to come in contact with the outdoors, which doesn’t mean being always in nature and forests. Participants even analyzed the benefits of Outdoor Education such as the student development, which includes the overall well-being, the sense of self and the growth of competencies; the relations and socialization of students; the psycho-physical well-being and the contact with the world, which consists in a special bond with nature and a more profound knowledge concerning environment to develop a sense of respect and protection of it.
The following part of the session was focused on some games that the participants had the opportunity to practice in the natural environment, such as local parks or beaches. During these activities, which were very appreciated, the participants learned the importance of working in a team and the value of collaboration to reach positive results and, above all, the method of “learning by doing”, which is the main principle of Non-formal Education (NFE). This pedagogical method puts at the center of the learning process the concrete experience that students have when they are achieving an activity or a task.
This part of the course was even dedicated to designing an outdoor experience, discovering the “10 Kurt Hahn principles” and their significance to make the participants conscious of the importance of taking care and respecting the surrounding environment.
During the week the participants shared another branch of Outdoor Education, known as Urban Outdoor Education, in which they had the chance to find a new way to find urban areas, historical and archeological sites by playing digitally interactive scavenger hunts. The online platform supplies tours around a city or building improved with quizzes and information to discover: it is a good way for teachers to keep students’ attention during school trips or visits in a stimulating atmosphere. The participants were divided in two groups accomplishing many tasks, such as taking pictures or videos, finding a spot or answering a quiz. It was a very pleasing experience for the participants, they could experience a new way of learning that they can use with their pupils, and at the same time, they had fun discovering new spots of the city in a more dynamic and engaging tour.
The last part of the course was focused on “risks” that outdoor activities may apply if the safety rules for the outdoor classroom are not specified. Teachers have to prevent any type of dangers by making their safety plan for the outdoor activities in which they have to check that students have proper clothing and equipment. After this part, the participants created their paper map in which they had to underline all the natural and structural elements of the outdoor space and put some additional information, such as places of interest, areas of relaxation or danger and any kind of intervention.
In conclusion, this week was an example of the efficacy of experiential outdoor learning: every participant had accomplished any tasks or games that they could replicate with their pupils. They will also be able to teach the importance of outdoor learning based on the principle that the learning process does not happen just in a classroom but in any context that is inspiring, involving and creative.
Discover more about this course here.
Welcome to the ELA Blog. Here you will find articles and photos of our courses and have a look at the topics addressed during the week in Bologna, Palermo and Tenerife. You will also have the chance to take a peek at our projects and check out what we have been up to.