Outdoor Education serves many purposes in a School, particularly when delivered in a planned and sequential manner over a number of year levels. Outdoor Education can support and reinforce pastoral curriculum in the most practical of settings. Students working together in small, professionally facilitated groups deal directly with concepts such as leadership (and equally importantly, followership), inclusiveness, the value of working towards a common goal and the recognition of the unique attributes each individual can bring to the team.
Each student learns about their own strengths and weaknesses and how persistence in extending one’s often self imposed limitations can bring success in the most challenging of situations – be they physical, emotional or social. This ability to bounce back from setbacks or challenges with confidence and optimism is a vital tool for any young person as they enter adulthood.
The Outdoor Education Group programs are designed to help students recognise that risk can be dealt with responsibly and with thought, rather than heedlessly – a lesson that is highly applicable to any young person’s personal life. We apply guided reflection to determine how they might approach a similar situation again. Thus a vital element of the experience is the transfer of learning into everyday contexts.
Personal experience in a variety of outdoor settings helps young people to feel more comfortable in a range of environments. Learning firsthand about each environment, be it cold alpine, warm coastal, dry desert or non familiar urban allows students to develop a sense of adaptability as new country is explored. Familiarity brings a respect for the natural world, recognition of the part it plays in the lives of all humans, and often a commitment to protect and enhance it for its own intrinsic value.
There are many opportunities to integrate the outdoors with classroom education – for example by carrying out real time scientific research, providing the stimulus for reflective writing and artworks or simply applying skills such as map reading and navigation to a landscape, either natural or manmade. While Outdoor Education generally revolves around the premise of living simply, there are certain occasions where technology such as mobile phones and digital cameras can form an effective and useful bridge between the known and unknown environments.
Finally, on the most basic level Outdoor Education provides simple physical exercise, healthy living and an opportunity for staff and students to interact and build strong relationships on ‘neutral ground’ away from the normal classroom environment.
|” Over the years I have learnt to accomplish many things and deal with many a problem on such outings. Personally I learnt to discover my many strengths and weaknesses when dealing with these problems in the outdoors. Also participating and interacting in group situations has given me a whole new outlook and perception on life, to show control and discipline in the choices I make, and the things I choose to accomplish.”|
|~ Yr 12 Student, St. Michael’s Grammar School.|