Learning can be done in many different places, indoors, outdoors, online and even within one’s own mind. Traditional classes are often in a classroom, meaning indoors. There has been a trend over the decades, of teachers taking their classes outdoors, simply to make the best of a great day. This often happens during lovely spring or autumn days and it might be a great experience. But, is it a great teaching and learning experience? What about an actual nature retreat? Can classes in nature be helpful? Let us examine them in detail providing different arguments.
It Depends on the Topic of the Class
Some classes are much easier to execute in nature. Physical education comes to mind. Whether you are indoors or outdoors, physical education can be taught. If you are outside, or in nature, you can even show the students the beauty of hiking and playing sports outdoors.
Classes such as geography and biology also have an easy way of adapting to the outside. Geography is pretty straightforward and when talking about biology, there are parts of it which make sense to explore outside.
Arts and music can essentially be done anywhere, but creativity light bulbs might be easier to light for some students outside.
Classes like math might be harder to adapt to, yet there are ways, depending on the subject. Applied physics can be taught outside, even theoretical, with some real world examples. Diffraction of light comes to mind, as well as anything having to do with gravity or apples. Any subject can be adapted, but for some, one might need a bit more effort.
It Depends on the Teacher and the Class
The teacher/student relationship is very important, inside a classroom and outside, whether you are teaching or simply talking to your student. They should see you as a teacher, but also as someone they can trust.
A teacher with a bad relationship with their students might not have the best time in a nature class. But a teacher that has a good one, will most likely have a great time. If there are outdoorsy students in the class, they will appreciate your little excursion. Those who prefer to stay in, well, you would just have to show them the beauty of the outdoors, while also doing your job.
The Weather is Key
Anything can be better if the weather is fair. A warm day which is not too hot will make your class easier. A damp and rainy day will most likely not be a good day to explore nature, unless you want to teach your students how lightning rods work in practice. Too hot of a day and everybody will be thirsty and sunburnt by the end of class.
If you are planning a class in nature, make sure to look at the forecast first, and then plan the date. Feel free to reschedule if you feel like the weather may be moody at the time.
Having Fun Matters – Even In Class
Nature classes will work if you can make it a fun experience while also teaching the subject and topic you wanted to. What makes them different is the new surroundings, which can dramatically improve the experience. Novelty helps, especially if you can harness your students’ newfound energy and curiosity to help them learn the topic of that day’s class.
The great outdoors has many things to teach us, from how to survive to how to enjoy. If you take your students outside, to a nature class, you can have a more interesting and overall better class. But it also depends on the topic, the students, the weather and other details. Plan ahead and consider what your class likes and you should have a great time.