This book comes highly recommended by practitioners and lecturers in education. In this blog the author Helen Porter describes part of her journey as a primary teacher with an interest in developing outdoor learning using the UK national curriculum. If you use this book in your practice please leave a comment for our readers.
10 years ago I was combining teaching part-time with working at a Field Studies Centre. The delight and engagement of the children who visited the Centre made me consider how possible it would be to include more outdoor, practical learning in school. The potential benefits could be huge. I then engineered my MA to focus on the benefits of outdoor learning, so became more knowledgeable theoretically as well as practically.
At this point I was approached by a local school to teach curriculum subjects in the school grounds to all their classes (y3-6) to cover their PPA. The main aims were to make the curriculum more exciting and engaging and improve levels of resilience (two major benefits of LOtC). It was an honour to be asked and a delight to work with all the children. Although it is almost impossible, on a day to day basis, to be absolutely certain of the impact of individual initiatives in schools, I would suggest that the results and benefits were impressive. Children were engaged, refused to give up when they were struggling, developed their ability to work both independently and in groups, challenged themselves.. I could go on. In addition, all the work we were doing was linked to the National Curriculum subjects – so we weren’t ‘stealing’ time from an already busy timetable to do something different; we were teaching what needed to be taught, but just in a different place.
Three years ago, someone suggested I put my ideas in a book – that what we were doing would be invaluable to other primary teachers to help them develop their own outdoor learning. The result was Educating Outside: Curriculum-Linked Outdoor Learning Ideas for Primary Teachers, the book of ideas which I have developed, which has just gone to a second print run. Feedback suggests that the lessons outlined in the book are easily transferable to other settings, and that the book is useful to those new to outdoor learning as well as those with some experience.
I know that the children at my school have benefited hugely from the development of outdoor learning and I hope the book may inspire you too. Perhaps the biggest compliment was when one of our more vulnerable children came to me one morning when I was wearing more traditional ‘teacher clothes’ and said “Ohhh, Miss, you ain’t got your boots on today..!!” A few words which speak volumes.