Education is one of the pillars of a prosperous society. At the individual level, education is an element that supports a person’s social integration, shapes moral values, and facilitates personal growth. As English writer and philosopher, G.K. Chesterton, once said: “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”.
Recent events have put traditional education at trial by transforming conventional methods and forcing schools and universities to migrate towards online learning environments. Although this is not necessarily a new approach to education, the magnitude of this transformation is unprecedented.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, global edtech investments reached $18.66 billion and e-learning was already scoring high in popularity. Since the virus outbreak, most schools and universities have gone remote and opinions about the impact of this shift on students are divided. While some support online education due to health considerations, others put more emphasis on the importance of face to face communications.
In an attempt to satisfy both parties, this article tackles the topic of outdoor education and highlights some of the key benefits and advantages that it provides. This alternative to conventional teaching may be the only approach we have at the moment that doesn’t put students in danger, while at the same time allowing them to socialize with their peers.
According to a recent survey, 88% of teachers revealed that students are more engaged in learning when it happens outdoors. Nature seems to have a positive effect on students and by making them more relaxed, it allows them to also be more attentive. As a result, their capability of storing the information that has been shared increases, thus also facilitating the learning process.
Studies have shown that consistent exposure to natural environments is likely to reduce anxiety and stress levels. In the actual context of a global pandemic, focusing on mental health and on promoting its necessity is key. That’s why outdoor teaching might prove to be beneficial especially in these times of social isolation that put a strain on our minds.
Students seem to collaborate better both with their peers and with teachers when they are involved in outdoor learning activities. Higher engagement rates and lower levels of anxiety have a positive effect on the way students connect to one another.
A benefit of outdoor education that goes beyond the individual level is that this alternative type of learning requires fewer resources, such as electricity and heat. This translates into substantial cost savings for schools and universities, which in times of crisis are more than welcome.
It is known that outdoor time spending can boost the immune system, which, especially in the actual context, is great news. Exposure to fresh air and bright sunlight can also increase eye health, which has been threatened lately due to the massive use of electronic devices.
As Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. And if traditional methods of teaching need to be put on hold at the moment, change should be embraced without hesitating. Outdoor education offers plenty of benefits that e-learning can’t provide for students all over the world.