The Pursuit of an Educator’s Dream: Teaching that Engages Students

Students finding joy on a ropes course.

Engaging teaching methods are every educator’s dream. Yet, in pursuit of this dream, one timeless inspiration may be falling off the learning wagon:  the transformative joy of nature. As educators, we have the privilege to be able to tap into the profound connection between nature and joyful learning. Whether it is a science lesson on wild plants during a breathless hike or a full view of terrace farming at the peak of a thigh-burning trek inciting awe in our history of agricultural development, the zest for life brings alive the spirit of learning.

Joy-Learning Connection

Research agrees with our experience. Numerous studies highlight the positive impact of nature on human well-being. Exposure to natural environments triggers the release of neurotransmitters associated with happiness, elevating students’ moods and creating an ideal mental state for learning. Nature’s beauty and diversity stimulate creativity and imagination too. Engaging with natural settings sparks innovative thinking, encouraging students to explore alternative perspectives and solutions to challenges. 

So when we see our kids find their unique ways up a rock during rock climbing, twisting this way and that to claw their individual paths up to a solution to overcome a challenge, we know we are helping create thinkers capable of handling life’s problems by their own wits.

Joyful Learning = Engaging Learning

Beyond this, joyful experiences in nature create emotional connections to learning. Students who associate positive emotions with educational content are more likely to retain information and remain engaged in the learning process. So when we ask kids to play a ‘game’ of keypunch, they are learning problem-solving, collaborating, and celebrating together when they finally meet their objectives — cementing bonds and learning for life.

Now we know, that joy is the glue that holds learning together. Introducing your students to the Great Outdoors — nay, the Great Classroom — would lead to students who not only aspire to learn in the moment alongside you, dear educator, but would create curious learners for life, driven by their innate sense of wonder. To be able to spark a love for learning that transcends textbooks and exams? Now that is an educational dream worth a tough pursuit.