Learning outside the classroom – the forest pedagogy of the 21th Century


Α nationwide programme called “teaching outdoors” which aims to encourage schools and teachers to teach outdoors as often as they can and in all subjects, not necessarily but mainly in nature settings.

We had known from previous research and from many vivid examples in Scotland, Norway, Finland and even Switzerland that learning out in nature works and has numerous benefits.

Outdoor school stimulates a better social relationship not just between pupils and teachers but also among pupils themselves. The fact that they all share experiences in various contexts, social settings and learning environments together, that they also share a lot of informal time together (such as on the way to and from the forest), means that they build trust, loyalty and a deeper understanding of each other which enhances not just outdoor learning, but feeds back into a better class climate back indoors.

Learning outside the classroom also fosters in-depth, real-life, hands-on learning in various different, stimulating, emotionally engaging learning environments – something we know from brain research to enhance memory, long-term learning and understanding of complexity. It enables meaningful learning, authenticity and the experience of self-efficacy. Learning in other, new environments also pushes pupils outside their comfort zones which is a key factor in learning.

One of the most surprising but also logical impacts of outdoor learning is that it has a clear positive effect on language competencies. Because pupils are not in a familiar, already ‘named’ environment (such as the classroom), they are forced to talk, to ask, to name new things, to describe stuff that happens, to learn new vocabulary to communicate effectively. It has also been shown that, while teachers talk on average 80% of the time when in the classroom, this ratio is reversed outside: it is pupils talking 80%.

And, last but not least, outside pupils and teachers are always on the move, particularly boys. This added movement has many obvious health benefits.



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