The idiom think outside the box, means approaching something in a whole different way, thinking creatively using one’s imagination. Similarly, education in the outdoors means learning something that is not confined to sitting within the four walls of a classroom. One can learn anywhere and at any point of time. A classroom provides us with a space where a student can learn without any distraction. There is no interruption and a student can really focus on the particular lesson. A classroom separates one class from the other and keeps on going in an organised way. But there are limitations to a classroom. It is like a set of rules and one cannot help but has to follow it. It confines the imagination powers of the students and sometimes can get monotonous.
According to Albert Einstein, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned at school”. What he meant was, not everything can be learned through bookish knowledge. One has to step outside, free their mind and learn from the surroundings as well. It enhances personal and social communication skills. The more a person interacts with the outside world, the more experienced he/she will be and can cope with different situations in a better way. Education in an open space gives the students an opportunity to learn in a more relaxing way. It helps the students learn in less stressful and anxious environments. Studying this way also elevates the mood and they can have a group discussion along the way. There is a saying that nature is the best teacher and there is no better way of learning than in the midst of it. It enhances spiritual and mental health and builds in the aesthetic awareness. Nature provides us with practical knowledge rather than a theoretical one. The students can be taught about the Sun, Moon, rain, trees, seas, and the rivers. Learning about them and how they contribute to our existence can make the students take interest in studying about them.
Everyone has a comfort zone and they don’t want any disruption with it. They are happy about how the things are going and do not take any risks. When the children are forced to get out of their comfort zones doing only the things that they feel safe about, they can challenge themselves. They can take risks and discover themselves of what they are capable of. The benefits of education in the outdoors becomes visible when the children are allowed to learn in a risk assessed and not risk free environment. Education in the outdoors involves undertaking different tasks, completing it with the existing experience and as a team. Outdoor education teaches the children that learning can occur both inside and outside of a classroom and not necessarily end with a book and a pen. The children are more prone to visual learning. If they can visualize what they are learning, they can memorize it better. A good example of outdoor learning will be studying the constellation in the night sky. If the students are taught about their direction, shapes and positions practically, they can visualize and remember them for a long time.
Educational trips can also be useful to a great extent. The students can realise the values of nature and how the people are taking them for granted. Pollution, deforestation, taking away lands for constructing different things, exploiting the natural resources are creating adverse effects on global warming and a drastic climate change. These factors also contribute to frequent natural disasters like earthquakes, flood, drought, volcanic eruption and so on. The students are taught about different ways to create a balance in nature. They can also learn about ancient history if they are taken to museums or any excavation sites. Historical places also contribute to know more about history. Mathematics is an abstract subject and can become a dull moment for both the teacher and the students. To make the children more interested, the teacher can take the class outside in the field. The teacher can use stones or pebbles to make the younger students understand counting. For older students, a teacher can find two or three dimensional objects in explaining a theory or can even use trigonometry to measure the height of a tree. There are different science parks available for everyone that makes science an easy to understand subject. The students can also learn about identifying different species of trees, about different animals and their behavior. The students have a better recollection of the information that they gather in the field trip rather than any bookish knowledge. The college students pursuing economics as a career, can be taken to real business and manufacturing plants, so that they can learn economics in a tangible way.
Education in the outdoors not only helps gaining knowledge from different things, it also gives the opportunity of development in both mental and physical growth of a person. The students develop different approaches to solve a problem. Adaptability among different circumstances grows along with their reflexes and instincts. They can easily identify different hazards and the risks associated with them. They develop respect and love for nature and all living things. They will start to appreciate the small things in life. Confidence and self awareness grows in them. Getting out of your comfort zone and facing the problems helps them be resilient. Nowadays, the students spend more time on digital screens like television, computer and cell phones, which leads to health issues such as obesity. It also prevents them from thinking creatively and they get more comfortable in being a couch potato. Education in the outdoors also helps them to stay physically active. Exposure to sunlight for some time is necessary for them. Outdoor learning also helps in increasing their attention power. The students are found scoring good marks and the confidence leads them to grow better leadership qualities. Most of the students find it boring to pay attention to a teacher’s lecture and try to skip school frequently. Education in the outdoors motivates the students to attend school on a regular basis.