10 Reasons Why Teachers Like Learning Outdoors in Scotland

16 February 2013 · 8 comments

in 10 Outdoor Ideas Series, Community Involvement, General Commentary, Interesting Issues & Hot Topics, Whole School

This post is based upon a presentation given by Julie Wilson, National Development Officer Outdoor Learning at Education Scotland that was given to Dalkeith High School and associated primary schools on a Valentine’s Day In-set. Definitely a day to fall in love with learning outdoors!

The reasons are Julie’s, based upon comments she has received from teachers, children and young people over the last ten years. The photos are just some of my own to illustrate her ideas. They are Scottish teachers and Early Years practitioners, taken in all seasons and weathers!

Reason 1

We are happier and more hopeful when outdoors especially when in contact with wildspace and nature.

Reason 2

We are more focussed, more attentive and more engaged for longer outdoors.

Reason 3

We are more adventurous, adaptive, flexible and reflexive outdoors.

Reason 4

We are better connected to places and people outdoors with a stronger sense of identity and purpose.

Reason 5

We learn better in the real world, in real life contexts, where we can make meaningful sense of our experiences.

Reason 6

We are more curious, ask questions, build stronger cognitive pathways and use higher order thinking strategies more readily outside.

Thank you Alistair Seaman for sharing this photo from Grounds for Learning NatNet 2012 event.

Reason 7

We are more relational outdoors and our learning is more collaborative and shared.

Thank you Inverallochy School for sharing this wonderful photo!

Reason 8

We are more inclusive outdoors, deploying different learning styles and drawing on different ways of knowing.

Reason 9

We are regenerating our practice in learning and teaching through our journeys outdoors.

Reason 10

We are genuinely cultivating new ways of doing things outdoors.

What do you think? Do these reasons resonate with you?

I thought Julie hit the nail on the head quite nicely. Certainly my own experience backs these statements up. Being outdoors benefits me, as a teacher, as well as the children with whom I work.

Julie has set up the Getting Outside blog which documents some of the events and activities around learning outdoors that are going on in Scotland.  To be honest, there’s so much happening – lots of pilots, experiments and projects of one sort and another that it is hard to keep track of it all. All-in-all, I’m privileged to be part of this and working in Scotland where there is national recognition and support for learning outdoors.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna C February 16, 2013 at 13:10

I’ll say it again, I really do think Scotland is leading the field in the UK on outdoor learning for all age groups. I concur 100% on all those reasons, everyone – adults & kids – are more motivated when outside. I hope the revolution keeps spreading & reaches our shores too.


Tom Bedard February 16, 2013 at 16:16

I might add: we are more creative because the outdoors/nature is a complex and open-ended classroom that is only limited by our imagination—as evidenced by your writing.


Tom Bedard February 16, 2013 at 20:03

Juliet, I am reading over my comment and it does not make sense to me. What I meant to say was that your writing is evidence at how much more creative we can be using the outdoor classroom, which is complex and open-ended. Tom


Juliet Robertson February 17, 2013 at 00:43

Thanks Kierna and Tom for your thoughts – Tom – both comments made complete sense!


Amy A @ Child Central Station February 22, 2013 at 18:35

I featured you on my Friday 5 today! I love this post, and you could scrap the “in Scotland” I think it is true all around the world! Great Post!


Jenny February 3, 2016 at 19:53

I think the top reason I love teaching outdoors is because it such a huge space -infinite really I suppose! You can spread right out or huddle together. Children can be shouting but you can still hear a whisper (why I prefer reading lessons outside). The playground is a huge blackboard where everyone can draw at once. And you are allowed to run!


Juliet Robertson February 3, 2016 at 20:07

Thanks Jenny – I think you are so right.


Rose Joyce February 4, 2018 at 12:30

I so agree with Kierna. We have a lot to learn from Scotland.


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