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No teacher left inside (Editorial)

by | Jul 5, 2019

School is out and teachers and students are enjoying the outdoors for the next two months before they are all rejoined again in the classroom.
Once the school year commences, it may at first seem like too much hassle, but teachers should consider having class outside from time to time.
It’s no secret the kids will dig it but it’s also a good move for teachers too.
Through interviews and focus groups, researchers at the United Kingdom’s Swansea University explored the views and experiences of students and teachers at three elementary schools that had adopted an outdoor learning program, which entailed teaching the curriculum in the natural environment for at least an hour a week.
Interviews were held with teachers, and focus groups were conducted with students aged 9 to11 both before and during the implementation of an outdoor learning program within the curriculum.
The schools in the study reported a variety of benefits of outdoor learning for both the child and the teacher and for improving health, wellbeing, education and engagement in school.
“We found that the pupils felt a sense of freedom when outside the restricting walls of the classroom,” said lead author of the study Emily Marchant, a doctorial researcher in medical studies said. “They felt more able to express themselves, and enjoyed being able to move about more too.
“They also said they felt more engaged and were more positive about the learning experience. We also heard many say that their well-being and memory were better, and teachers told us how it helped engage all types of learners.”
The benefits of outdoor education for children are well-documented.
Integrating agriculture has even better outcomes, inspiring students into careers and educating them about what 1 percent of the nation does for the rest of its citizens.
Not much of a focus has been on the impact that the outdoor learning program had on teachers.
“Initially, some teachers had reservations about transferring the classroom outdoors but once outdoor learning was embedded within the curriculum, they spoke of improved job satisfaction and personal wellbeing,” Marchant said. “This is a really important finding given the current concerns around teacher retention rates. Overall, our findings highlight the potential of outdoor learning as a curriculum tool in improving school engagement and the health, wellbeing and education outcomes of children.”
Teachers, much like farmers, have a great passion for their profession. But that passion is routinely tested.
Neither falls into the get-rich-quick category .Both face constraints thrust upon them from government — whether it’s meeting standardized test score benchmarks or nutrient management regulations — and have to continually advocate what they do to a public that generally doesn’t realize or understand what it takes to do their jobs.
“You have to love it. If you don’t, you won’t make it,” is what we hear farmers say now and then, talking about their work.
Certainly teachers can relate, and anything that will help them engage students in learning and reminds them of why they have the job they have is undoubtedly a great thing.

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