Overcoming the Blocks and Barriers to Outdoor Learning

Our teacher training workshops on outdoor learning are always well received and we love to work with schools and teachers offering tips, tools and advice on how to use their outdoor environments more regularly and in a more structured way.

As part of the workshops we always take time to address the ‘blocks and barriers’ to taking teaching and learning outside. We are highly attuned to the real (and metaphorical) folded arms and knitted brows of delegates on workshops as we enthusiastically espouse the wonder, awe and positive benefits of al fresco pedagogy.

We are always highly respectful of the challenge and push back that we receive but of course work hard to help overcome these in very practical ways

Generally speaking the barriers fall into 3 main themes:

  1. “Where do I go”? – The need for a ‘hub’, outdoor classroom or at least a ‘meeting and seating area’ is essential in order to enable effective outdoor teaching and learning to take place. Without this some teachers feel that they may struggle structuring their sessions for their learners.

  2. “What do I do”? – A real concern amongst staff is that lots of time and effort will need to be spent creating new lesson plans and resourcing effective learning activities that they just do not have in the midst of a busy teaching schedule. Finding great source material and ideas that will provide easy access to great activities (without reinventing the wheel) is a must have for all teachers, but particularly those who are a little sceptical about the whole thing! (See our LOC Handbook for outdoor lesson plans across all subjects).

  3. “How do I find the time”? – A genuine (but dare I say it, often misplaced view) is that the outdoor teaching and learning sessions will need to be in addition to the teaching that takes place in the classroom, rather than complementary to it. Good quality outdoor learning will provide meaning and context to the classroom based underpinning and knowledge. There is also the logistical challenge of creating and building in quality curriculum time for teachers to engage in outdoor learning? Should it be an ad hoc process at the discretion of the individual teacher, a weekly commitment from all staff or a periodic half day or whole day themed event, year group or even whole school wide.  

Through our blog posts we shall be posting ideas, tips and resources to help overcome these genuine concerns and challenges that teachers have. We hope in this way we can help to break down and overcome the barriers – that are of course real and practical, but partly attitudinal.

We hope that you find them interesting and, more importantly, practical and useful. We hope also that it sparks discussion, debate and of course further challenges to those we have outlined above.