When the busy season for summer-based outdoor education programming winds down, many in the outdoor education community may have found themselves returning to other avocations and means to make a living. For those of us who remain in the field of education — albeit in a more traditional setting — we continue what we know to be “best practices” as teachers.
“Classroom” is not a word we’re at all excited about. The hum of the fluorescent lights is like something out of a horror movie. And the designs of the windows seem to be lifted from a prison architect’s plan book.
Students make it outdoors only for recess, and that depends entirely on how much the teacher enjoys the outdoors. Otherwise, teachers and students alike are stocked away inside most of the day. At some schools, the physical education teacher doesn’t even take students outdoors.
All of this is a difficult reality for those of you who just spent three months each summer with students exploring wilderness and outdoor environs.
Experiential education, place-based learning, project-based learning, and adventure education — the list goes on and on. Schools use these terms to sell themselves. Read the descriptions published by public schools, charter schools and independent schools across the country and you’ll (more…)