Julia Bormann; Pim ten Brucke; and Marie Westerdick

Jumping in puddles, baking mud cakes, crafting chestnut figures or building leaf forts: this was the world of us as six-year-old individuals. Driven by curiosity and imagination we investigated the environment around us and invented the coolest games and stories just by playing in the woods. Back then, we did not know anything about smart boards and educational phone apps but at the same time we did not miss this in our lives either. Entering primary school was a turning point. Suddenly, we had to sit still and listen to a teacher that tried so hard to win our interest in certain topics. Try to imagine this beautifully growing plant, that once was just a small seed. From birth on children want to discover the world themselves and show natural interest, curiosity and the will to take risks. In our metaphor, these are the driving forces that let our plant grow in their environment of choice and on its own pace. Now, try to picture how this beautifully grown plant is suddenly being put into a physically limited pot, unwanted leaves are being cut off and water supply is only given when the gardener thinks it is necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if our healthy green plant will soon give up growing.

This might sound very far-fetched and dramatised when thinking of this as a metaphor for our standardised educational system. However, looking at the big picture it shows how easily children can unlearn their curiosity by following standardised curricula. Often as teachers we are unaware of the limitations that an indoor classroom is providing, and we forget about the wonderful learning resources that can be found by simply going outdoors.

Therefore, we invite you to rediscover learning opportunities aside from the usual classroom setting. How will the students benefit from learning outdoors? What possibilities do I have as a teacher to offer outdoor experiences? How can I make sure that all students feel included?

This chapter deals with the implementation of outdoor education in an inclusive setting where all students’ needs are considered and valued to ensure equal access and participation for everyone. In the following, we will discuss the meaning of inclusive teaching while considering the outdoor setting and have a close look at the benefits of outdoor education for all students. Furthermore, we critically assess the challenges of outdoor learning and talk about possible pathways to overcome these. Eventually, you will find wonderful lesson activities and learning resources to immediately implement the ideas in your teaching.

Throughout this chapter you will encounter possibilities to connect with personal experiences and opinions. The “think and reflect“ sections invite you to interact with the teaching community through posting your thoughts on our Padlet:

We are more than excited to read about your thoughts and ideas.


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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by Julia Bormann; Pim ten Brucke; and Marie Westerdick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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