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Outside and inspired: The case for outdoor learning

By November 5, 2020No Comments

Outdoor learning, which has a long but little-known history, has experienced something of a renaissance thanks to COVID-19, say Tracie Corner and Bryan Goodwin from McREL in the latest Research Matters column for ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine. A century ago, urban American school systems bundled kids up and educated them outside to keep them safe from tuberculosis—and it worked.

More recently, small studies of British “forest schools” and similar formats elsewhere in the world have catalogued such student benefits as better imaginative thinking, engagement, attention, academic outcomes, and behavior. While not empirical, these studies could provide guidance for teachers in all kinds of schools to get students into the fresh air where they can thrive but the coronavirus can’t, the authors suggest. Even a school that doesn’t have easy access to open fields and parks can create a small outdoor garden big enough to allow for some exploration, for example.

Read the column in Educational Leadership.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.