This September we’ll be sending Zach to school for the first time. We’re lucky that we have three schools nearby, and got a place in the one we liked best – one that has plenty of green fields and growing spaces. It’s still urban, with the hangars of Luton Airport across the hill, but it has a sense of the outdoors about it.
That matters, as we have a growing body of evidence that suggests that children learn better outdoors. The classroom is a sterile environment by comparison, denying children the freedom to move and explore, and poke things with sticks.
Outdoor learning is the subject of a recent George Monbiot’s column for the Guardian, and it’s well worth a read. There’s a video too:
In reading Monbiot on the subject, I couldn’t help but think again about the ecomodernist manifesto that I mentioned last week. I talked about the way the manifesto seeks almost to transcend nature, to protect it by moving beyond it. (Not everyone reads it this way, but two of the lead authors trailed the manifesto with a USA Today article called ‘Want to save the planet? Say bye-bye to nature‘, so I don’t think I’m imagining it.) The research into outdoor learning seems to be pointing is in a very different direction – that connection to nature is vitally important to human flourishing.