Over a year on the pandemic still looms over us and we are already slipping back into our pre-Covid habits. While there are teachers and schools who are committed to keep up their outdoor learning, there are others who are quickly disappearing back indoors.
The pull of the traditional classroom
It is tough to be a teacher and/or school leader. There are unrealistic expectations of what you can do in the short hours you have in any given school day and the pressure continues to build as the school year progresses. In the last year teachers have had months of remote learning and shortened teaching time. They have had to change their plans at the drop of a hat, over and over again.
It’s easy to see why many teachers are drawn into their indoor classrooms. There is pressure to catch up on material that got missed or glossed over when schools were closed. There are pupils who haven’t adjusted well to the ever-changing current climate and it is tempting to contain them. Some teachers might even have a desire to get back to “normal” and be inside just like before – perhaps it feels comfortable and familiar.
All of these reasons for heading inside are understandable, teachers face a big challenge. But let’s not sugar coat it, by doing so we are in danger of undoing the great work that schools have done over the last 12 months. We challenge teachers and schools to stay outside as much as possible from here on out. Ask yourself what does post-Covid education look like?
It’s not over till it’s over
The reality is that learning outside protects you and your pupils from Covid and other illnesses. It’s a simple fact that the risk of contracting airborne viruses from others in the outdoors is significantly less than indoors. It’s no coincidence that England reported zero cases of flu over the 2020-21 winter, when we spent more time socialising and learning outdoors.
Let’s teach outside as much as we can, it’s undoubtedly safer and has countless other benefits to boot.
Children need Outdoor Learning
Children have had a rough year. Whether as a direct result of the virus itself or the impact of lockdowns, school closures, and restrictions on play and socialising their lives have been turned upside down. Outdoor learning provides part of the solution to the anxiety, stress and uncertainty children have encountered.
Over the long term, outdoor learning supports children’s mental wellbeing and builds confidence, self-esteem and social skills. Children have the opportunity to connect with the natural world when their lessons head outside and get their heads around their own place in it. Children are happier outdoors and often learn without realising that they are.
The concepts in the curriculum make a lot more sense when children see them rooted in reality. Geometry clicks with pupils when they see shapes in their surroundings and poetry rings clearer when listened to with rustling leaves and a fresh breeze in the background. And it doesn’t stop there. All subjects and a great deal of curriculum content can be taught outside and inspire a deeper level of learning.
Post-Covid Education – Now is the time
This is a call to action. Let’s get out and stay out, for the future of our children and young people, and the sake of their education. We challenge you to take your class outside at least once a week this half term.
Try one of these practical ideas from SOuL Interactive to take your teaching outside.