There is currently a large debate regarding whether outdoor education is an effective way of learning or not. There are many benefits of outdoor learning that should be considered when debating this topic. Outdoor education allows students to make connections with the environment, to be physically involved with the history on the land, and to learn with visual aids. I believe that outdoor education should not only be readily available to students, but it should be a mandatory class for students of all ages. The current education system only provides an environment that is effective for a select number of students. Many students learn in different ways and being in a classroom could damage the way a student absorbs knowledge. Taking the class outdoors allows for the students who struggle to learn in a classroom setting to experience knowledge in a way that will help them to understand. I have had my experience with outdoor education and I personally believe that this way of learning resonates more with me than learning in a classroom setting.
I’d like to believe that students that participate in an outdoor school program walk away with more knowledge and first-hand experience about the environment than those who haven’t. Putting students in an ODS program vs a classroom to me has a great advantage. Walking in a forest area gaining knowledge not only by reading about it but actually seeing the landscape such as types of trees, shrubs, wildlife is a much more of a valuable experience then reading it out of a text book or seeing pictures. I would hope that all ODS/EE teachers are on the same page as far as the value that these programs have to offer.
On one of my own personal ODS trips, we visited fur trading posts in Cypress Hill where a battle took place between Nakoda and the wolfers. Seeing where the battle took place I was able to visualize it as if I were there and just being on that very land made it so real. I guarantee that if I was to only read it out of a textbook I would not have remembered it the way I do now. This is one of many benefits of having an outdoor school program.
I’m very passionate about nature walks and the impact it has on the students. I plan on taking my students on nature walks in hopes of allowing them to experience the knowledge they receive rather than just hear it. It is important for me to know that my class has different ways of learning, and nature walks are a great way to encourage different learning methods. Many educators do not support nature walks because they believe it to be an excuse not to teach or learn; however, I believe that nature walks are a much more effect way to teach especially to students who prefer visual ways of learning over the western concept of learning.