Being in contact with the outdoors has a considerable positive impact on the cognitive, behavioural and emotional development of humans. In the recent years there was a shift in perspective on how to integrate more time spent outdoors than locked up in a classroom. Integrating outdoor education into formal learning can be quite a challenge, since you have to adapt to trivial things like the weather. Another advantage of this type of learning - and why it has become important in the last years - is its positive impact on climate change.
The new edition of the course “Outdoor education: a new way of teaching and learning” took place in Bologna from 29/05/2022 to 4/06/2022. The participants came from Belgium, with Demeyere Linda, Coene Jonas, De Brabanter Ann Astrid, De Ceulaer Liesbeth, Clauws Veerle, D'Holander Lisa, Janssens Ann, Maingie Mandy, Noelanders Patrick, Renard Katty, Roels Karien, Seghers An, Van Cant Eva, Van Cauwenberghe Karin, Van Den Eynden Joni, Van Lathem Kathleen, Willems Maria, Vermeiren Gerarda, and Wyns Karen.
The first day was spent on introductions - we were not only discovering each other’s names, but also our individual perspectives on outdoor education. Using a human scale, we found out our participants’ experience with the subject, which helped us to adjust the curriculum to their needs. We also engaged the group in an activity, where each small group had to come up with one definition of outdoor education. That was a challenge, as everyone had different views on it, but we managed to complete the task.
We spent a lot of our time outdoors, of course. The participants know the garden of our venue like the back of their hand; the most memorable activities done there were definitely the inclusion game, and mapping the area. To make the map, the group had to look at the garden with a critical eye to find ways to utilise all elements, but also note down where to be cautious. An earlier visit to Villa Ghigi was helpful for generating ideas for activities in open spaces.
On Thursday we engaged the group in an outdoor treasure hunt to get to know the city of Bologna (and how to incorporate apps into outdoor education). The teams did very well - not only did they discover more about the city and had a lot of fun, but they could also put themselves in the shoes of their students, and see how to make this game productive. Later we explored the app, trying to make a game ourselves.
We tried to tackle another problem: sometimes you have to stay indoors. How do you engage students and recreate an outdoor experience indoors? Our participants found out for themselves during another treasure hunt in the venue itself.
On the very last day of the course, everyone designed an outdoor lesson according to their target group and subject taught. Taking the opportunity of being surrounded by outdoor education experts, we presented our lessons and collected valuable feedback.
During the week we presented a lot of ideas to the group. We hope you can use them with your students, and they will be just as engaged as you were!
Discover more about this course at https://www.erasmustrainingcourses.com/outdoor-education.html