How should we teach outdoors?

This paper highlights possible approaches to outdoor teaching – ones that take advantage of the natural environment for learning, where the classroom is nature itself. Such methods encourage interactive learning, exploration and connection with nature, and allow for a more holistic understanding of the subject matter.
Here are some possible outdoor teaching methods:

  1. Nature observation: pupils explore and observe nature and living things directly in their natural environment. This may include observing plants, animals, geological formations, weather phenomena, etc.
  2. Learning through play: The use of games and challenges related to the environment promotes learning in a fun and engaging way. This can include different types of treasure hunts, quizzes, ecosystem demonstrations, etc.
  3. Exploratory learning: Students independently investigate specific topics or issues of interest to them, focusing on observation (seasons, animal behaviour, etc.), data collection and analysis of results. This encourages curiosity, critical thinking and research skills.
  4. Interdisciplinary learning: integrating several subject areas such as science, mathematics, art and linguistics in outdoor activities allows for a more holistic view of the subject matter. For example, the history of a place can be taught by looking at the natural features of the place, art can involve drawing or photographing the landscape, and mathematics can involve measuring and analysing data.
  5. Use of technology: Smartphones, tablets or GPS devices can be used for location tracking, data capture or data retrieval during outdoor learning. This allows us to integrate digital technologies with the natural environment.
  6. Garden work: Students can get involved in gardening, growing food or cooking in the natural environment, which provides a link between learning and practical skills and promotes awareness of sustainable lifestyles.
  7. Learning through adventure: Activities such as orienteering, climbing, paddling or camping encourage teamwork, independence and overcoming obstacles, while pupils gain new experiences and skills.
  8. Reflection and evaluation: After returning to the classroom, it is important to allow time for reflection and evaluation, where students can discuss their experiences, observations and what they have learned during the outdoor learning experience.
    Outdoor teaching methods can be very effective in fostering motivation, understanding and long-term interest in learning in students, as they provide an authentic and useful real-world learning experience.

Mateja Podmenik

Mateja Podmenik is an educator and professor of theology, a chaperone of students, coordinator of the international DigiON project, mother of 3 children, coordinator of workshop providers for workshops in schools.