Let’s talk to Pete Hubble, a member of the SOuL installations team and so much more. Pete shares his own journey into the outdoor learning world and tells us what it is like to work on site with the team.
So, who are you and what do you do?
By trade, I am a youth work practitioner and a carpenter. I work to deliver youth development plans and programs or charities and so lots of carpentry work as well. I’ve worked with Andy at School Outdoor Learning for 5 or 6 years now.
I like working on the installations for SOuL like the canopy classroom, eco hubs and natural playgrounds. There’s room for creativity. Plus, I love to work outside. We have autonomy which feels good, it’s hard work but not pressured. As a team we have a clear vision of what we want to do and how to get there. There’s variety and challenge in the work which keeps it interesting. Oh, and I did a PGCE at one point too so I have a good insight into what it’s like to be a teacher.
How did you get involved with outdoor learning? How long have you worked with SOuL?
My own parallel journey got me interested in outdoor learning. I had a pretty poor education experience personally and I happened upon climbing. Climbing changed my perspective and I realised people do this sort of thing for a job and there are more options than I first thought. I went and did BTech in Leisure Management and learned there was a whole world of things out there. I realised I could do youth work and be outdoors. Along the way I learned building skills on a site and put the two skills together with SOuL.
Ultimately, learning in concrete boxes isn’t the way. We have an antiquated education system. The exciting thing is we are on the cusp of change in education and it’s great to be involved with that.
Share a SOuL installation project you especially enjoyed, what made it so special?
We did a project at a school in Devon, Mount Kelly. The others had to drag me away from that site screaming and shouting. The school really appreciated the work and the impact on school was epic, right off the bat. It helped that the weather was great too! We started with a blank sheet and an open concept so there were opportunities to try fresh ideas.
Why do you think outdoor learning matters?
It matters because there is a play deficit and a nature deficit which is heart-breaking to see. Young people are often stuck inside for hours, days and weeks and in its simplest form being outside is nourishing and enriching. For all ages, it is good for us to be outside. We learn fundamental and core values best outdoors. It makes sense to share and cooperate outside and children learn together this way. Living, eating and breathing out in nature is the most effective way to develop an appreciation of nature than any textbook or video ever can.
Outdoor learning is not complex, it is fit for purpose and as relevant as ever. Especially sine there are less and less opportunities for play.
What do you think holds schools and teachers back from doing more outdoor learning?
Practitioner confidence and confidence is the biggest thing. There’s a perception that play isn’t good quality teaching, which is rubbish really. There are token lectures in teacher training about reflective practice, but they are not set up for success teaching outdoors from the beginning. Schools need the time and space, and structure to deliver it. They are so heavily measured against criteria.
If a school only does one thing to improve their outdoor learning area, what should that be?
Just dedicate an area to it. Put down some logs or old tyres or anything really to define it. Then get out and live it. You really don’t need much to start and being outside is the key bit. As and when you do get a budget for outdoor learning then you can look at other options. Just don’t wait till then to start.
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