OUTDOOR education is a vital instrument in a student development.
Here in Australia, with our Mediterranean climate and low-density population, even urban areas provide a range of opportunities for outdoor education practices.
Students experience the deep personal impact of their time in nature.
This includes the role of natural environments in providing a balance to modern, technologically intense living and in supporting physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Students are given unique opportunities to reflect on their own and with others about themselves, their relationship with others, and their place in the world.
The Australian Curriculum on outdoor learning mandates that “any learning experience that can be undertaken in the outdoors or in a natural setting can contribute positively to a range of learning areas”.
This is comprised of four dimensions, developed by the Australian Curriculum Council Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in consultation with industry body Outdoor Education Australia (OEA), an organisation that facilitates communication between State and Territory outdoor education associations.
These dimensions are skills and knowledge, human-nature relationships, conservation and sustainability, and health and wellbeing.
Teaching methods: 1. As a sequential, standalone subject.
Students in secondary schools may elect to undertake outdoor education as a
SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE standalone subject, taught by teachers from within the school.
Students learn through direct teaching in the classroom enhanced by personal experiences outside the classroom in local environments as well as journeys to and through nearby natural environments.
2. As an annual, sequential field trip and camps program that may allow components
of other learning areas to be taught.
Students achieve deep learning through a planned sequence of year-level camps programmed each year.
In the early primary years, students may take part in a sleepover with parents/ caregivers on the school grounds, followed by residential and under-canvas camps, culminating in a more extensive journey to a nearby natural environment. The camps can include learning from a range of curriculum areas.
3. As a teaching methodology learning in, about, and for the outdoors,
drawing on content from a range of lear ning areas.
Each learning area examines how they might use outdoor learning as part of the delivery of their curriculum.
This may include using outdoor journeys as ways to engage in local environments to explore concepts that have been investigated in the classroom.
It also might involve one or more learning areas combining to achieve linked outcomes.
Students plan and complete an outdoor journey as the culminating experience to demonstrate their learning in a range of learning areas.