6. Improved memory
One of the best ways to improve memory and recall is to experience something new and unfamiliar. This releases dopamine into the hippocampus where memories are created. Obviously, classrooms where day-in and day-out young people experience education in the same environment – same colours, lighting, scenery, noise, layout and more – their sensory experiences become numb. However, moving the class outside opens up a different world of fresh stimuli for the senses – bonus – this gives the power to lock into the brain and embed the information that they are learning.
7. Kinesthetic Learning
Some students excel in school with worksheets, lectures, practical exams and routine. But most students have better a better knowledge of academic theory when they are able to touch, feel, and do. They want to see the leaves, hear the water, smell the rain coming – do the experiments, touch the insects. Active, kinesthetic learning is not only more memorable, but has also been proven to improve concentration and behavior.
When working outdoors, I’ve always found it prudent to give tasks to each student within my group. This creates equity and a sense of community and co-operation encourages peer relationships and team problem-solving while students work towards a common goal. These types of teamwork and critical-thinking skills that are encouraged in a group setting are some of the most important skills that employers look for later in life. Why not start now?
9. Better behaviour
One of my great joys is watching kids who ‘play-up’ in the classroom, find their mojo in the outdoors. I know it’s not for everyone but so many connect with the simple life or even better, are intrigued by those things unfamiliar to them. This leads to better behaviour within classrooms. I recently read of studies that found social adjustment, self-concept, and group cohesion — all potential pitfalls that result in poor classroom behaviour — improved through outdoor education. Even handling misbehaviour becomes easier for teachers when the education is out of the traditional classroom. Louv says, ”I can’t tell you how many times teachers have told me that the troublemaker in their classroom becomes the leader in an outdoor setting.” In fact, that student is often the one who I will give a role of responsibility because they have energy and crave to be challenged.
10. Communication skills enhanced
In Australia, many schools employ outdoor education staff or external organisations to specifically target students’ communication skills, particularly as we move more into a digital environment where face-to-face communication decreases. Outdoor education fulfils this gap by requiring students to work together to solve problems on programs. Students are encouraged to lead discussions, contribute their ideas by making their voices heard, give each other feedback, and resolve conflicts. Granted, these activities can be done in a traditional setting, but according to a 2006 study, the impact is more significant when the consequences are real.
Read Part 1 and Part 3 by clicking on the links 7 days after this post for Part 3.
Now it’s your chance. What benefits have you seen from outdoor education? Leave a comment below.