Thinking Outside Classrooms: Is Nature the Innovative Learning Approach We Need?
If there is one thing educators have learnt over the course of a global pandemic, it would be the value of real interaction in outdoor settings. Research across the globe has been reporting a rising number of children showing signs of depression and anxiety even before the pandemic: 24 to 27 percent from 2016 to 2019 (in the US alone).
As teachers grapple with this fact when they see students of high potential but low motivation, we may have to look towards thinking outside the classrooms. Reports from educators in the USA show them stepping out of walled classrooms to provide students with a free wheeling experience where children play to learn.
By tapping into children’s emotional cores — which is when kids learn the best — educators may have unlocked the doors to more engaged students. Nature, with its capacity to incite breathtaking awe, has a way of freeing our senses in the present. Which is why spending time in nature has been reported to reduce stress, help with attention and enhance emotional well being within students.
These skills are easier to pick up in the lap of nature, where fruitful relationships with beings of all kinds has the potential to make students feel secure while challenging them to take initiative and be creative as well as imaginative. Since mental health issues in children have proven to persist into adulthood, it is crucial that we bring our learnings from the pandemic to fruition and help our students gain important life skills that will help them be successful — and happy — human beings.