Juliet Robertson is an education consultant who specialises in outdoor learning and play. She writes about her experiences at her blog, I’m a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here! She co-wrote the Do-Be Teach-IT Outdoors pack with Ollie Bray. In June 2014 her first book, Dirty Teaching: A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Outdoors is published for primary school teachers.
The idea of using digital technology outdoors continues to produce an interesting array of feelings from educators. The spectrum seems to range between love and loathing, freedom and fear, or curiosity and curtailment. For me, the lure of a tablet being part of an outdoor activity is the untapped possibilities that we have yet to discover. The value of experimenting and exploring the world around us through a digital eye is worth the time invested. It’s not because I want to see a child glued to a screen outside. It's because I know for some children a mobile device provides alternative ways of exploring the environment which may spark a life-long interest.
There is nothing quite like visiting schools, nurseries and other childcare settings to gain ideas and inspiration. I’m always delighted when I get this opportunity. Sometimes, I am asked about good places to see. In my opinion it is not possible to find a “perfect” outdoor space. Instead I look for elements of good practice, which are worth reflecting upon and remembering. This might be how free flow play is set up in less than ideal circumstances. Or it could be how a muddy area has been developed with children fully involved.
The places that have truly got going with learning and play outside, perceive their outdoor spaces as ongoing works in progress. There is a continuous commitment to valuing and actively using an outdoor space as a place for learning and play. It is a mixture of ethos, physical improvements and careful thought about the variety and potential of a range of activities to happen in an outdoor space.
When visiting another school or establishment, these are my top tips:
Photo credit: striatic