Outdoor maths education

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

There's a Circle of Life Rediscovery blog post about outdoor maths: "6 ideas for using syringes in a mathematical way outside" written by a respected outdoor educator.  It was featured as an NAEE blog last week.

This begins:

"I’ve always used syringes for water play, mark making, as air pumps in technology projects and for having fun in the snow. I’ve always chosen the biggest syringes I could find – 100ml ones.  But this set, a present from a friend, fuelled the mathematical fire within me. Have a close look at the sizes and see what you notice – this is just the sort of thing to ask older primary aged children."

The question is, is this environmental education?   It seems to me not (and there's no evidence that the writer claims it as such).  It’s one thing (and many good reasons) to go outside to study maths – it’s called maths education outdoors.  It’s quite another to go outside to study maths in order to pursue an environmental issue or topic – that’s environmental education.
I think this distinction is absolute which is why, for me, ‘education in the environment’ always has to have an environmental focus if is to count as EE – otherwise it’s just education / learning outdoors.  It’s why I am so disappointed at all the emphasis that’s on ‘outdoor learning’ these days, when so little has an environmental focus.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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