If children pay more attention in a natural setting and teachers can teach twice as long, why not teach outdoors?

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Joe Dispenza
@joedispenza
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Aristotle taught in the Lyceum, a space located in the forest, near a sanctuary, which had a covered gallery and was surrounded by trees. The philosopher walked into the gallery while arguing with his disciples.

When I was studying at university, the lessons I enjoyed the most and have good memories were those in which a rather sui generis teacher moved the entire group of students to a green and tree-lined area of ​​the campus.

Unfortunately, these examples are anecdotal. Lessons in nature are rare. Locking students up between the four walls of the classroom is the expression of a society that has definitively distanced itself from nature, feeling superior. It's the educational model we've been using for decades, but it's not the most effective.



The 3 big "obstacles" to school in nature that are just unfounded myths

The modern teaching system resists the idea of ​​school in nature because it grasps a set of supposed obstacles that are actually myths without any foundation.

One of these myths is that students cannot concentrate and pay attention when attending classes in a natural environment. But the truth is, some studies show just the opposite. Just being able to see a tree-lined street or green park from the window has been shown to have very positive effects on students' attention, concentration and working memory. The key is that natural landscapes help us restore attention, producing a kind of "subtle charm" that allows us to refresh the mind.

The second myth derives from the first: as students are distracted, they lose interest and motivation for the lesson. There is no doubt that motivation is a deciding factor in learning, but school in nature has been linked to a higher level of commitment and enjoyment in learning. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota found that outdoor classes encourage a greater interest in school and learning in general in elementary school children. A study conducted at Linköping University found that classes taught in natural settings increase intrinsic motivation for learning, even in adolescents.



The third myth is a consequence of the previous ones, it is believed that students perform worse in outdoor lessons. In reality, the opposite is true. A recent experiment conducted at the University of Illinois in which 300 students participated, half of whom attended classes outdoors in a natural setting, showed that teachers can teach twice as long without being interrupted by behavior. students or to ask them to pay attention. Furthermore, these classes significantly improved student participation, as well as their level of attention and motivation in learning.

Break down the walls: Less stress means better learning

Educating in nature, when possible, helps students to get rid of the feeling of oppression that often generate the four walls of the classroom and the tension of a situation that is often perceived as imposed, mandatory and, in a general sense, any other adjective that is the contrary to jouissance.

However, high stress levels are an indicator of poor academic performance. In contrast, psychologists from the University of Stavanger found that school in nature helps reduce the amount of cortisol in the blood, as well as reduce the heart rate in students by helping them feel more relaxed and comfortable.

So why don't we go out and give more lessons outside the classroom? Or better yet, why don't we turn any scenario into a classroom?

Perhaps the same thing has happened to the school as to the rest of the social systems which, once implanted, seem to acquire a life of their own, atrophy and become very resistant to change.


Perhaps we have forgotten that "the supreme art of the teacher is: to awaken the joy of creativity and knowledge," according to Albert Einstein.

We may have also forgotten that “teaching children to count is good, but teaching them to discover what really matters is even better,” according to Bob Talbert.


We need this article to refresh our memory.

 

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