The term ‘outdoor learning’ covers many forms of practice outside the classroom, including Forest School and outdoor play. Outdoor learning has been rapidly growing as a topic of interest for educators and parents over the last ten years, and research published in this field is also increasing. Despite the fact that we are inextricably part of the natural world, there is concern that contemporary children have become disconnected from nature and that their opportunities to access natural environments are declining. Given compelling evidence that time spent in natural places has multiple benefits for human health and wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviour (Bourn et al., 2016), there is an impetus to find ways to increase children’s exposure to and attachment to nature through their education.
The chapters in this book were originally peer-reviewed articles published in Education 3–13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education. They are amongst the most popular in the journal, reflecting the demand for more evidence of outcomes and high-quality information about how best to implement outdoor learning for children in this age group. The authors report qualitative and quantitative studies and consider implications of the findings for children and their development, and for the integration (or not) of natural environment contexts within school practices. Gathering this body of evidence together in a single volume enables important messages about outdoor learning’s various purposes, processes and outcomes to be more readily accessed by practitioners, policy makers and researchers.
Table of Contents
Preface Introduction: Outdoor Learning: exploring possibilities for educational enrichment 1. Teaching and learning outside the classroom: personal values, alternative pedagogies and standards 2. ‘Memories are made of this’: some reflections on outdoor learning and recall Part I: International perspectives about outdoor learning 3. Towards an understanding of udeskole: education outside the classroom in a Danish context 4. ‘Let's go outside’: Icelandic teachers' views of using the outdoors 5. The outdoor environment as a site for children's participation, meaning-making and democratic learning: examples from Norwegian kindergartens 6. The ‘outdoor school’ as a school improvement process: empirical results from the perspective of teachers in Germany 7. The reconceptualisation of outdoor education in the primary school classroom in Aotearoa New Zealand: how might we do it? Part II: Embedding outdoor learning in education for children aged 3-13 8. Everyday teaching and outdoor learning: developing an integrated approach to support school-based provision 9. Falling into LINE: school strategies for overcoming challenges associated with learning in natural environments (LINE) 10. Improving and encouraging teacher confidence in out-of-classroom learning: the impact of the Hampshire Trailblazer project on 3–13 curriculum practitioners 11. Assessing learning in the early years’ outdoor classroom: examining challenges in practice 12. Diverse aims, challenges and opportunities for assessing outdoor learning: a critical examination of three cases from practice Part III: Purposes and pedagogies of outdoor learning 13. Can the integration of field and classroom-based learning enhance writing? The life on our shore case study 14. Outdoor mathematics trails: an evaluation of one training partnership 15. School gardens: teaching and learning outside the front door 16. Learning outdoors: the Forest School approach 17. The nature of learning at forest school: practitioners' perspectives 18. Fostering children’s relationship with nature: exploring the potential of Forest School 19. Footprints in the woods: ‘tracking’ a nursery child through a Forest School session 20. Forest School in an inner city? Making the impossible possible 21. Does engagement in Forest School influence perceptions of risk, held by children, their parents, and their school staff? 22. Encounters with Forest School and Foucault: a risky business?
Sue Waite, formerly Reader in Outdoor Learning at Plymouth University, UK, has a long history of research and publications about play, learning and wellbeing in natural environments, including two research council awards and a large project on curriculum-based outdoor learning, Natural Connections. Her edited book, Children Learning Outside the Classroom: From Birth to Eleven (2017), is in its second edition. She currently holds honorary posts at Plymouth Institute of Education and Jönköping University, Sweden.