Why is learning outside the classroom so important?

This article was updated on 21 November 2018. You can read the updated version here.

It is extremely important that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.

WHAT students will learn

As we are all aware, education is more than the acquisition of knowledge. Improving young people’s understanding, skills, values and personal development can significantly enhance learning and achievement. Learning outside the classroom is not an end in itself, rather, we see it as a vehicle to develop the capacity to learn. It provides a framework for learning that uses surroundings and communities outside the classroom. This enables young people to construct their own learning and live successfully in the world that surrounds them.

There is strong evidence that good quality learning outside the classroom adds much value to classroom learning. It can lead to a deeper understanding of the concepts that span traditional subject boundaries and which are frequently difficult to teach effectively using classroom methods alone. It provides a context for learning in many areas: general and subject based knowledge; thinking and problem-solving skills; life skills such as co-operation and interpersonal communication.

HOW students will learn

Much has been learnt in recent years about how the brain works and the different ways in which we prefer to learn. Research suggests the need to re-engage learners with the world as they actually experience it. This is often called ‘experiential’ or ‘authentic’ learning.

In recent years teachers have been exploring ‘learning how to learn’ in order to raise achievement. What we see, hear, taste, touch, smell and do gives us six main ‘pathways to learning'. Young people are intensely curious and should be given the opportunity to explore the world around them. The potential for learning is maximised if we use the powerful combination of physical, visual and naturalistic ways of learning as well as our linguistic and mathematical intelligence.

What are the educational benefits?

By helping young people apply their knowledge across a range of challenges, learning outside the classroom builds bridges between theory and reality, schools and communities, young people and their futures. Quality learning experiences in ‘real’ situations have the capacity to raise achievement across a range of subjects and to develop better personal and social skills.

When these experiences are well planned, safely managed and personalised to meet the needs of every child they can:

• Improve academic achievement.
• Provide a bridge to higher order learning.
• Develop skills and independence in a widening range of environments.
• Make learning more engaging and relevant to young people.
• Develop active citizens and stewards of the environment.
• Nurture creativity
• Provide opportunities for informal learning through play.
• Reduce behaviour problems and improve attendance.
• Stimulate, inspire and improve motivation.
• Develop the ability to deal with uncertainty.
• Provide challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk.
• Improve young people’s attitudes to learning.

Giving young people responsibility for achieving these outcomes helps them to learn from their successes and failures. Learning outside the classroom provides support for many different curriculum areas. For example, all young people have an entitlement to do fieldwork as part of their geographical studies. Linked to the curriculum, these activities provide direct and relevant experiences that deepen and enrich learning.

If you would like to challenge your students and broaden their experiential learning, get in touch with the team at Educating Adventures to discuss what options may suit your school. Email us at schooltours@educatingadventures.com

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