The respected Institute for Outdoor Learning has drafted a childhood progression in outdoor learning. This is a "mapping of the range of outdoor learning interventions designed to enable children and young people to form a healthy, developmental and sustainable self-led relationship with the natural environment".
This is to be welcomed. It addresses two challenges:
- to enable a progression of outdoor learning opportunities
- to use a new progression of opportunities to enable a progression of outdoor learning outcomes
This post focuses on the first challenge.
There is an immediate tension between the header and the text that follows. The header talks about ‘progression in outdoor learning’; the text, about mapping ‘a range of learning interventions’. That is, the first would seem to be about learning, viewed broadly, and the second about teaching and pedagogy, again viewed broadly. Outcomes and inputs, if you like. Given that learners don’t learn what teachers teach, the scope for a mismatch here is considerable. There is always, in such discussions, a risk of a fracture between the outdoors and the learning, especially as the outdoor is always much easier to talk about than learning.
Challenge 1 is to to enable a progression of outdoor learning opportunities. This focuses on ‘outdoor learning opportunities’. It concerns ‘bridging boundaries’, ‘signposting opportunities’, and ‘developing insight’. These are important matters and it would be a mistake to downplay the potential for better outcomes and more effective organisation (etc). However, there are issues about how learning features in all this.
Learning gets a mention as a sector: “Bridging the boundaries between …. health, learning, play, recreation or environmental sectors …”, but learning is not just a sector, it’s a potential outcome of activity in all the other sectors. As everyone know, we learn through play, etc. But learn what, exactly?
The text says:
“Developing our insight on the ways to build confidence and motivation for spending time outdoors in these settings, especially among communities experiencing disadvantage.”
However, it might usefully have said:
Developing our insight on the ways to build confidence and motivation for spending time learning outdoors in these settings, especially among communities experiencing disadvantage
… if only to help us remember that learning is important here.
More next week.