The Danger by Andy Robinson
There is a danger in reducing educational activity to a tight curriculum coupled with frequent tests. Equally dangerous is relying too much on the volume of grades at key assessment points such as GCSE, rather than prioritising the handful of key competences required. Both tend to result in a focus on the education systems and processes rather the richness of the experience and the potential of the individual. This also reduces reliance on the professional judgement and decision making of the teacher and facilitator of learning.
I am a passionate believer in the power of the professional educator. Whilst I applaud the robust management of education, I do not believe it is achieved through systems and processes at a level that leaves no room for innovation, inspiration and leadership by those actually facilitating the learning. That’s probably why I love outdoor learning. A learning medium where there is a degree of natural uncertainty, wonderful sources of inspiration and an inbuilt stimulus for reflection is a powerful one. We must not reduce it to a series of activities that the ‘learner’ simply participates in like a formulaic lesson.
What role does outdoor learning play in your school? Recent research points to benefits for both the teachers and the pupils from engaging in outdoor learning across a wide range of national curriculum topics Natural Connections Report 2016. As the report makes clear the journey to accessing the benefits of outdoor learning starts in the school grounds with the teaching staff.
Are you making the most of the use of outdoor learning residential programmes when you do move beyond your school grounds ? Lindley Educational Trust’s team are passionate about well designed programmes. Programmes that have a clear contributory role for staff, that incorporate a degree of planned progression, have space for informal less structured learning and importantly play a clear identified role in the wider school year. We do not want to simply provide adventurous activities, though that is a worthwhile objective. We want to ensure that the progression to clear outcomes around self awareness, self confidence, ability to work with others and taking responsibility for self, are met by all participants on our school programmes.
Author: Andy Robinson