Bran Howell, from the education team at the Eden Project, on how teachers as well as pupils can benefit from outdoor play.
We all bang on about the benefits of outdoor learning for young people. It’s covered in the national press, in academic papers, and is a favourite of old hippies like me. But has anyone thought about how teachers might benefit from taking the classroom outdoors?
All this occurred to me last month while delivering a teacher training session at a great school in Plymouth. As is always the case, when we invite the teachers to come outside and build mini dens with us, there are a few horrified faces, much shuffling of feet and backing away.
But once we remind them about our golden rule ‘never ask pupils to do anything that you aren’t prepared to do yourself’, they soon realise there’s no getting out of it.
Five minutes later and the magic has done its job; the playground is full of shrieks of laughter, with teachers running around stealing sticks and bits of glitter off the other teams. Simple dens develop into secret love nests for Ken and Barbie and suddenly the whole mood changes.
All teachers need is an excuse to play. They work in an extremely busy and often stressful environment, yet they still have to inspire and instill the joys of learning with care, diligence and a lot of love.
I believe it’s just as important that teachers have time to enjoy themselves and do something different too. If teaching outside can be fun as well as help teachers achieve learning outcomes, what’s not to like?
We all know that happy engaged young people learn quicker and that children aren’t machines that can be force fed knowledge; they need to explore and find out for themselves – and I suspect that teachers are just the same. Our teacher training sessions back up our beliefs time and time again. After all, we don’t grow up, we just change shape.
So if you are facing the autumn term with a glum face and pile of indoor lesson plans, why not give yourself a break and take part in one of our outdoor learning sessions especially for people like you?
We can promise you a great day that will spark your imagination – and could help open up a whole new side to teaching.
This post originally appeared on the Eden Project’s blog. Find out more about teacher training and school development programmes from the Eden Project.