Last week more than 400 people gathered together at Crieff Hydro to be part of the LTS Outdoor Learning Conference. There was a healthy mix of outdoor professionals, local authority and school delegates from all parts of Scotland.
Having had time to reflect upon the event, the most poignant statement that stuck with me was an off-the-cuff comment from a seconded Curriculum for Excellence development officer. She simply stated that nothing was more boring for kids than being made to look at lichen.
From this, we have an off-the-shelf quality mark. Forget the tick sheet targets of the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge Scheme. Just get outdoor folk to submit a video demonstrating how they engage, enthuse and get children appreciating lichen in one of their lessons. For example, how does an outdoor instructor delivering a canoeing lesson relate lichen to paddling? How can lichen be meaningfully included in an interesting technology lesson in the school grounds? Can we demonstrate the role of lichen in the farm ecosystem?
Trouble with Lichen is the title of a John Wyndham book. Its plot is based upon a scientist who discovers a chemical within lichen that slows the ageing process. The main character remains youthful and radiant as the years go by, thanks to lichen. I quite like the idea of quality outdoor learning being ageless and timeless.
Lichen has long been recognised as an indicator of air quality. Let’s make it the official quality indicator logo of outdoor learning too.