Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education

Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th annual EOE Conference
Encountering, Experiencing and
Exploring Nature in Education
European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education
and Experiential Learning (EOE)
in partnership with the
Centre for School and Outdoor Education Slovenia
Collection of conference’s papers
22nd- 25th September 2010
Olympic Sports Centre Planica, Rateče 167, SI-4283 Rateče-Planica, Slovenia
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views
only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information
contained therein.
Collection of papers
Encountering, Experiencing and
Exploring Nature in Education
22nd- 25th September 2010
Olympic Sports Centre Planica, Rateče 167, SI-4283 Rateče-Planica, Slovenia
Programme board
Dr Peter Becker
Dr Kirsti Pedersen Gurholt
Jochem Schirp
Organising committee
Irena Kokalj, mag. Ida Kavčič
Mirjana Jesenek Mori, Emil Mumel
Boštjan Gradišar, Miro Hrovat
Matej Pagon, Martin Kreč
Peter Šabec
Publisher and editor
Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti, Ljubljana, Slovenija
Person in charge
Matjaž Zajelšnik
200 copies
Lecturing: authors
Photos: authors, CŠOD
Publisher’s address
Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti
Frankopanska 9
1000 Ljubljana
[email protected]
CIP - Kataložni zapis o publikaciji
Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, Ljubljana
EUROPEAN Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential
Learning. Annual Conference (10 ; 2010 ; Rateče)
Encountering, experiencing and exploring nature in education :
collection of conference papers / 10th annual EOE Conference, 22nd
- 25th September 2010, Rateče - Planica, Slovenia ; [photos
authors, CŠOD]. - Ljubljana : Center šolskih in obšolskih
dejavnosti, 2010
ISBN 978-961-92531-1-3
1. Gl. stv. nasl.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Table of Contents
Peter Becker
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
Kirsti Pedersen Gurholt
Concepts of Nature in Outdoor Education
Stojan Burnik, Irena Mrak
Mountaineering as an Important Part of Outdoor Education
Tanja Kajtna
Social Influence in Outdoor Education
Karen Seierøe Barfod
Outdoor Education in Compulsory Education, a European Perspective
Concepts of Nature in Outdoor Study Programmes of
Universities and Colleges of Higher Education
Vesna Štemberger
Outdoor Education in Compulsory Education, a European Perspective
Zbigniew Głąbiński
Tsunami on the Baltic Sea – How to Get the Knowledge about One’s Own Region
Susanne Lesk, Markus Gutmann
Intercultural Learning with Outdoor Training and Experiential Learning
under the Perspective of Culturally Divergent Concepts of Nature
Ashley J. J. Fenwick
Outdoor Learning within the Formal Scottish Secondary Curriculum:
Opportunities and Challenges
Martin Vollmar
The concept of Nature in Outdoor Studies at the University of Marburg
Martin Lindner, Cornelia Berthold
Contemplative Approaches During an Excursion Focussing on
Aesthetic Dimensions
Erik Mygind, Peter Bentsen & Glen Nielsen
Physical Activity and Learning in Udeskole
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Erik Backman
Making Pedagogy of Friluftsliv – a Fusion with an Unpredictable Result
Leif Inge Magnussen
Into the Backwash of Kayak Adventures
Mike Boyes
Re-envisioning Nature from a New Zealand Māori Perspective
Barbara Humberstone, Ina Stan
Nature in Outdoor Learning-Observations from the Well-being and Outdoor
Pedagogies Project
Marjanca Kos
Outdoor Play and Learning in Early Childhood
Eila Jeronen, Marjatta Kaikkonen & Pia Smeds
First Hand Experiences and Interactive Learning – Environmental
Education and Outdoor Education in Finland
Gregor Torkar, Petra Mohar
A Research Summer Camps as an Effective Way for Comprehensive
Development of Adolescents’ Personalities and Environmental
Consciousness: A Case Study from Slovenia
Geoff Cooper
Outdoor Learning, Environment and Sustainability- Seeing the big Picture
Kevin O’Callaghan
Orienteering: A Case Study in Legitimising Educational Goals
through a Holistic Approach
Sue Waite
Pedagogies in the Outdoors: A Tale of Two(?) Places
Iztok Tomažič
Educating Pre-service Biology Teachers in Informal Teaching Environments A Case of a Local ZOO
Examples of Successful Practice, Principles of Successful Practice
Jakob Frimann Thorsteinsson
The Highland Adventures School Journeys
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Robbie Nicol
What Qualifications are Needed to Become an Outdoor Teacher and
what is the Teacher’s Role?
Beth Christie
Learning in Nature: Exploring the Value of Residential Learning Experiences
within Scotland’s New School Curriculum
Živa Pečavar
Connection with Nature and Awareness as Primary Goals of Outdoor Education
Sebastian Preuss
Learning on and about the Water in the North-eastern Part of Germany
Geir Grimeland
Experience the Moving Culture of Bouldering in Nature
Helena Kregar
Camp Plečnik: Learning through Nature
Karmen Debenjak
Mathematics on an Orientation Hike
Evgenija Godnič
On a Walk with Mathematics
Klavdija Brecelj
Mathematics in Nature – Learning through Experience
Andy Ashworth
Living Wild – Education, Therapy, or neither?
Tanja Miklič
Catch Mana – Catch Yourself
Björn Vilhjálmsson
The Highlanders Project – Wilderness Therapy in Iceland
Simona Žibert Menart
School in Nature is Very Important for Every Child
Brigita Gregorčič
Contribution of Outdoor Education to Youth’s Deciding Responsibility
Maja Fajdiga Komar
Educational Activities in The Triglav National Park
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Boštjan Gradišar
Different Methods of Work in the Museum
Marija Zupanc
Zelenci – Nature Reserve
Živa Pečavar
Observation Skills through Nature Play
Outdoor Educational Practices in School
Lawrence Chapman
Outdoor Education in The Ashley School – UK
Mojca Čepič
Outdoor Experiences as a Support to Indoor Teaching and Learning
Mareike Janssen, Katharina Wurm and, Martin Gröger
Open Air Laboratory FLEX – An Authentic Learning Environment that
Gives Teacher Trainees, Enrolled for General Studies, Fundamental Access
to Chemical Conversion Phenomena
Nika Cebin
ECO Day at Ledina Secondary School – Solar Show at Open Day
Nives Skuk
Sound Producing Objects and Musical Instruments – Music Lessons
are also Part of the School in Nature
Martina Petelinek, Ana Rudnik Pavlica
Sound Sources - How to Create a Diverse World of Sounds
David Exeter
Adventure Learning Schools – A New Design for Schooling
Silan Darja
“A taste of the Scientific Approach to the Urban Ecosystem Analysis”
Natalija Györek
Forest Pedagogy in Slovenia
Jürgen Bender
“The Children’s Forest School”
Janja Gril, Nataša Sardinšek
Folk Tradition in Outdoor Education
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Marie Aldener, Kerstin Nilsson
Inspiration to Play Outdoors in Various Environments
Guðmundur Hrafn Arngrímsson
Outdoor Education Facilities. – From Idea to Reality - An Example from Iceland
Agnes Kozorog
The Biology Classroom – The Classroom from Nature to Nature
Maja Divjak Malavašič
Degraded Areas – Rehabilitation and Enlargement of a Stone Quarry
Franc Malečkar
Active Cognition of the Karst Caves and Surface
Mirjam Trampuž
Biodiversity – Orchid Registrarion on Dry Carst Meadows
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Enclosed you'll find the Collection of Papers of the 10th International Conference “Encountering,
Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education” organized by European Institute for Outdoor
Adventure Education and Experiential Learning in partnership with the Centre for School and Outdoor
The aim of this conference was to bring together practitioners and academics from around Europe,
interested in outdoor and experiential education linked to formal education and non-formal youth
work. The conference will examine different ways and purposes of approaching and using nature in
outdoor education. It will also try to build up networks of practical cooperation and knowledge
The theme is based on the generally accepted educational philosophy of outdoor pedagogies that a
stay in natural landscapes and confrontation with and exploration of natural phenomena can provide a
positive stimulus to the educational processes of individuals.
The conference is organized around three main topics:
Concepts of Nature in Outdoor Study Programmes of Universities and Colleges of Higher
Since many professionals use outdoor practices in their everyday work, the conference represents
papers addressing the different ways in which nature is approached in universities and higher
educational study programmes. Comparing different understandings of and ways of approaching
nature may not only make understandable what common ground the different approaches might share
or where they are special. By looking at concepts of nature it might be helpful to sharpen own profiles
and extend ranges of possibilities.
Examples of Successful Practice, Principles of Successful Practice
This topic addresses how to assure quality in pedagogical outdoor educational work: Is there a need to
set cornerstones for educational processes taking place in and with nature? What can be learned from
practices and experiences developed in specific pedagogical situations and contexts? Questions on
what best practices might mean and how knowledge, ideas and practices can be disseminated from
one context to another will be illuminated.
Outdoor educational practices in school
This section will raise discussions on whether outdoor practices should be aimed for establishing and
legitimizing educational goals of curriculum, or be serving different, more holistic means of
education. Other issues will be addressed, e.g.: Does nature serve as backdrop, as an extended fitness
centre or gymnasium, in which activities such as mountain biking, canoeing or climbing can be carried
out? Is nature seen as a counter-world that offers activities that allow people to forget the pressures of
everyday life? Or: Is nature seen as a part of us, as the outside extension of our inner state?
This Collection of Papers is actually a little treasure of knowledge and reflections of the participants
of the Conference. It offers theoretical starting-points, ideas and practice in outdoor teaching so that
one can get the whole picture.
We sincerely thank all the authors for their contribution to this Conference.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
Dr Peter Becker
University of Marburg, Insitute for Sports Science and Motology, Germany
2010 will see the conference of the EOE "Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature“ in
Slovenia, which will be organised together with the CSOD. CSOD means Center for School and
Outdoor Education. It is an integrated part of the Slovenian Education Ministry. As such it organises
outdoor activites with emphasis on natural sciences and sport as part of the extended curriculum of the
nine-year elementary education, which every elementary school has to offer in addition to the
compulsory curriculum. Although participation is voluntary, up to 60% of elementary school pupils
take part in these activities every year, which the CSOD offers in 23 outdoor centres. It may well
happen that children take advantage of this one-week opportunity every year during their time at
elementary school. CSOD works in close cooperation with the university departments of pedagogics
and sports.
The theme of the conference of "Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature", which is
meant as reference to the different ways and purposes of approaching and using nature, was chosen by
the EOE and the CSOD together and is based on the following considerations.
The generally accepted educational philosophy of outdoor pedagogics is that a stay in natural
landscapes and the confrontation with natural phenomena can provide a positive stimulus to the
educational process of individuals. Why else would practitioners of this pedagogical approach in
almost all European countries take innumerable groups out to walk over high mountains, gently
sloping hills, sparsely wooded forests and through the purple heather of the moors, go canoeing on
gentle or white-water streams, temporarily live the simple life of camping on beaches and in forest
clearings, go on expeditions? Why else would one expose oneself to fog, snowfall and stormy winds,
collect plants, stones and leaves, study water samples, build terrariums, aquariums or lay out a garden
to plant flowers or vegetables, tend them, pick and harvest, or why else would practitioners take
people on (day) trips, for example, to a lake in order to splash about or swim, take them to climb
through a damp ravine up to a mountain hut to get a view of a glacier or take them on country paths to
greet the bursting flowers of spring and on forest paths to enjoy the colours of autumn?
Although many stories are told about the activities people participate in, it is rather rare that one learns
anything about the exact natural setting these described activities take place in.1
This is the more surprising since encounters with nature are not only a constitutive element of these
practices, but also a determining factor for the kind of experiences that can be gained in these
This statement is not true for those outdoor activities that aim to put across explicitly how worthy of protection
nature is. In this context, the human competence to interfere in natural processes and ecological units, such as
forests, streams, lakes, etc., as well as the competence to exploit natural resources against the setting of
zivilisationskritik, is rated as low. Therefore practices are carried out to develop appropriate patterns of
awareness and action. The German biologist and teacher Gerhard Trommer,for example, tries with his concept
of "gentle walking" to leave as few traces as possible in the areas visited. A heightened cause for alarm is
created by the perceived self-endangering due to environmental destruction, which is practically added to the
threat to natural resources.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Does nature perhaps serve as backdrop, as an extended fitness centre or gymnasium, in which
activities such as mountain biking, canoeing or climbing can be carried out? Is it a counter-world that
offers activities that allow people to forget the pressures of everyday life, which is, in fact, where real
life takes place? Is it a part of us, as the outside extension of our inner state, that we should treat
cooperatively and like a friend? Is it a series of open and unknown situations that pose obstacles
individuals need to overcome on their way to achieving their goals? Is it an accumulation of riddles,
which - as with Francis Bacon - reveal their wisdom only in response to force and manipulation or
does it take - as with Goethe - patient seeking and observation and total absorbtion with all one's
senses to uncover their secrets? Or does it maybe present itself as a configuration of atmospheres,
where burbling streams, passing thunderstorms, fir trees covered in new snow, campfires at night,
billowing cloud formations, deeply red sunsets, imposing rock faces, etc., create the kind of aura that
will remain engraved forever in our emotional memory?
All these various natural scenarios are connected with different spheres of experience, which
themselves make different demands on the individuals. Each individual situation requires not only
different knowledge and physical routines but also different equipment, appropriate self-interpretation
and motivation.
However, what is demand on the one hand, is opportunity on the other hand. The demands of natural
situations that need to be tackled open up opportunities to gain experience in a ludic way and to
acquire different ensembles of physical practices, habit and knowledge, which support the appropriate
way to handle the natural situation. Depending on the disposition of the individual the following types
of logic can be perceived: the aesthetic, modest logic of observation, the caring logic of preservation,
the logic of discovery and of adventurous travel that is open to the future, the pedagogical logic of
using it as an instrument, the sober logic of unravelling, the inconsiderate, narcissistic logic of seeking
self-awareness, the engineering logic of interference and manipulation or the ascetic logic of the
simple life.
In consideration of the fact that meanwhile many professionals (teachers, social and youth workers,
therapists, counsellors) use outdoor practices in their everyday work, we think that it is a worthwhile
project to initiate a European discourse about the different ways of gaining access to nature in outdoor
practice approaches, about how they are taught at university and about their consequences by means of
the planned conference on "Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature".
1. Concepts of nature in outdoor study programmes of universities and technical colleges of
higher education
As mentioned before, outdoor activities are increasingly being integrated into the work of
professionals who, in their capacity of aiding helpful intervention, strive to give people support to get
the most out of their lives. Our partner in this cooperation, CSOD, is an excellent example of how the
content of school curricula is processed didactically by means of outdoor practices. In Sweden there is
a university department that is exclusively concerned with how to combine natural processes and
natural phenomena with the teaching of school subjects. Scandinavia has also been the origin of forest
kindergartens, which have become wide-spread and which conduct their daily preschool activities
preferably in different natural spheres. More in the Anglo-Saxon language area therapeutic concepts
have been developed that make purposeful use of nature as medium for their intervention. Even rather
peculiar developments which see therapy - independent of any kind of existing psychological stress as a technique of self-enhancement and narcissistic self-fulfilment refer to natural spheres. Outdoor
activities are as much part of the method inventory in the field of social work, especially in youth
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work, as in the area of further education provided by consultancy agencies that train highly qualified
executives, for example, in leadership and communication competence.
All these approaches with their different ideas of nature are taught in study programmes and further
education courses that are offered at universities and technical colleges of higher education but also in
the market place. Comparing their understanding of nature may not only make plain what common
ground these individual approaches share or where they are special; through looking at concepts of
other European universities it might also help to sharpen our own profiles and especially extend our
own range of possibilities.
Considering the limited time available for the conference, it will surely not be possible to compare the
approaches of all the professions mentioned above. It does, therefore, make sense to focus on those
occupational fields that are represented by the two organisations that are staging the event, without
absolutely excluding others from making presentations.
2. Outdoor practices at school and vocational training
2.1 School-related aspects: As not only Slovenian and Scandinavian but also historical examples of
(German) reformpädagogik show, there have been many recurring attempts to dissolve the logic of
regular schools with their traditional architectural conditions of the roof-covered right angle, in order
to discover opportunities for learning and education in seemingly chaotic nature. This is apt to lead to
the conflict of whether this (temporary) change is to be subordinate to the established and legitimized
educational goals of the curriculum or whether a quite different, more holistic means of education is to
be aimed for. The conference should take up these developments and the debates and discourses that
go along with them and should set up relevant presentation and discussion forums.
2.2 Aspects related to vocational training: An important step in everyone's life is the transition from
the educational system into the labour market. For some time now, this step, which had always been a
critical one, has been even more problematic, due to the crisis in the working community, which has
led, among other things, to a steady loss of job opportunities, especially for unskilled workers. In
particular for young people finishing secondary education with only the most basic leaving certificate
it is becoming increasingly difficult to find appropriate employment that will secure their livelihood in
a satisfactory manner. Losing work at the same time seriously injures people's psychosociosomatic
integrity, which in turn entails various forms of humiliation. This is made even worse by the fact that
people looking for jobs often do not have the qualifications that would allow them to react adequately
in a deregulated market. For this constantly growing group of young people the EU has coined the
label of "Youth at Risk".2
Given the powerlessness of politics it seems that the market will not change its conditions for quite
some time to come, meaning that individuals will be forced to adapt to the conditions of the market. If
one wants to prevent or mitigate this threatened state of exclusion of specific groups, one will have to
provide opportunities for them to catch up on their inadequate socialisation. It has been shown that
outdoor activities and confrontation with natural situations can constitute suitable media to impart the
competences that these individuals failed to acquire earlier more easily later. (BECKER, et al. 2005;
In the face of unemployment due to structural causes the question of appropriate levels of qualification would
become superfluous if the forced connection between work performance and secure livelihood was decoupled,
as proposed in the various models of unconditional basic subsistence cover.
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This is a rough description of the double topic of the second focus of the conference. Specifically, the
issues to be discussed here will not only have to cover the conditions necessary for effective
implementation, the reach of specific activities or the forms of their implementation and
dissemination, but also the issue of forward-looking cooperation between school and youth work with
regard to the confrontation of natural situations.
3. Examples of successful practice, principles of successful practice
The third thematic focus should be on a problem that the European education discussion has been
concerned with for some time. What is meant is the issue of quality assurance of pedagogical work.
Even though the business vocabulary normally used in this discussion, such as standardization,
output-orientation, best practice, benchmark, workload, etc., is regarded as fundamentally
inappropriate, the question remains of how conditions can be created that will, if not guarantee the
successful outcome of educational processes, make success more probable. That educational
processes, given their critical nature, can fail is on the cards. If they could not, they would not exist,
they would just be an endless repetition of the same. Something new can only evolve if the possibility
of failure is implicit in educational endeavour.
This is not the place to enter at any length into the problems and consequences resulting from
imposing economic principles on educational processes at school and in youth work. The place for
such discussions and the presentation of nature-related practices might be the events with this focus.
There, on the basis of problems arising from practice past and present, one might discuss and
demonstrate what cornerstones should be set for educational process taking place in and with nature
and according to which principles open educational work should be planned and carried out.
BECKER, P. et al.: The Next Step. Adventure and Outdoor Activities for Youth at risk in the
Transition from School to Work, Marburg 2005
BSJ MARBURG/ THRESHOLD CONSULTING: Learning Out Doors. Support for Young People in
Risky Transitions, Marburg 2008
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Concepts of Nature in Outdoor Education
Kirsti Pedersen Gurholt3
Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
[email protected]
Ideas of Nature in Outdoor Education
The generally accepted educational philosophy of outdoor pedagogies is that dwelling and journeying
in natural landscapes and the encounter with and first hand experiences of natural phenomena and the
surrounding ‘natural worlds’ can provide positive stimulus to the educational process of individuals.
Peter Becker (2009), chair, vice-chair and board-member of the EOE since its beginning, has
described the pedagogical perspectives underpinning both this conference and the work of the
European Institute, as if our work is not linked to affirmative and convincing ideas:
“Why else would practitioners in almost all European countries take innumerable groups out
to walk over high mountains, gently sloping hills, sparsely wooded forests and through the
purple heather of the moors, go canoeing on gentle or white-water streams, temporarily live
the simple life of camping on beaches and in forest clearings? Why else would one expose
oneself to fog, snowfall and stormy winds, collect plants, stones and leaves, study water
samples, build terrariums, aquariums or lay out a garden to plant flowers and vegetables, tend
them, pick and harvest, or why else would practitioners take people on expeditions and on day
trips, for example, to a lake in order to splash or swim, take them to climb through a damp
ravine up to a mountain hut to get a view of a glacier or take them on country paths to greet
the bursting flowers of spring and on forest paths to enjoy the colors of autumn?”
Many stories are told and can be told about the outdoor activities people participate in and about the
encounters with nature that teachers, social and youth workers, therapists and counselors share with
children and youth. However, it is rather rare that outdoor practitioners and professionals explicitly
question and describe what is actually explored and experience, or learned, about the natural processes
and the ‘natural’ landscapes, in which they hike, sleep and sometimes get bodily immersed. In outdoor
education practice and literature ‘Nature’ is frequently referred to just as ‘the outdoors’; eventually ‘the
great outdoors’ or finally as something wild or a ‘wilderness’, without any further explanations. Thus
‘Nature’ most frequently seems to be a take-for-granted concept, and as such seen to be something
obvious which it is not necessary to question or openly reflect about.
Nature – a complex, dynamic and slippery concept
However, in everyday life the concept of nature is regularly used in many-faceted ways (Arler, 2009).
A closer look at the interpretation of Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak which is located in the
neighborhoods of Planica and towers 2864 meter above sea level, may illuminate how the concept of
Chair European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning, Associate Professor
Norwegian School of Sport Sciences.
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nature is frequently expressing ideas and symbols of meanings. According to the famous Slovene writer,
lawyer, mountaineer and explorer of the Julian Alps, Julius Kugy (1858-1944) “Triglav is not a mountain,
Triglav is a Kingdom”. Triglav is such a dominant highest peak that the predecessors of today’s Slovenes
“saw in it the throne of gods”. And this myth is said to be preserved in the soul of every Slovene even to
day (Mihelic, 2007: 178). On the other hand, the concept ‘nature’ may well refer to the physical and the
material resources which can be seen, smelled, heard, tasted (eaten and drunken), and touched (e.g.
climbed). The Slovenian landscape which covers “the green sunny sides of the Alps” is characterized by
mountains, forests, hilly terrains of extensive grassland, fruitful valleys and rivers, but not to forget, with
the alpine meadows, the ‘planine’, that have been extensively used for centuries by its inhabitants to
pasture their herds at a high altitude. Thus the Slovenian landscape illustrates the meaning of nature as
material resources; as a world-wide system of objects and living things upon which humanity depends for
its survival.
When outdoor pedagogies are linked to socio-cultural research and environmental philosophy more
complex and ambiguous concepts of Nature becomes visible. According to for example the British
philosophers Raymond Williams (1976) and Kate Soper (1995) or Danish Finn Arler (2009), the concept
of ‘Nature’ in Western societies carries layers of multidimensional meanings and thus must be regarded as
dynamic, contextual and heavily ideological but also slippery. Several examples can illustrate this. While
the concept of ‘Nature’ in Anglo-American literature and everyday language refers to ideas and values
(Arler, 2008), this is different in a Norwegian and Nordic context. Then people most frequently talk
about “the nature” and by this refer to specific locations like a concrete wooden area, a specific
mountain range, a river bend, or a lake. Additionally, the Norwegian judicial principle of Free Public
Access builds on a division between what is defined as farmed (innmark) versus not-farmed (utmark)
land. The divide farmed/unfarmed (innmark/utmark) means that you are allowed to roam freely, to
stay over night, e.g. in tents, and to pick berries, fish and hunt with only minor restrictions, on outlying
unfarmed but private land. Though, the concept of non-farmed outlying areas (utmark) has little or
nothing to do with concepts of the wild or wilderness. Areas called utmark have always been well
known to people, as these have been extensively used, among other things for pasture and logging. To
children and youth or just to somebody ‘embodying an urban eye’ such areas may well be
conceptualized as wild or untouched.
Contextualizing Ideas of Nature across time: Nature as the mother of education!
According to the Norwegian philosopher Hjalmar Hegge (1990) the history of how nature is
conceptualised in contemporary Norwegian outdoor recreation and education must be traced to the
fundamental changes in European civilisation since the late Middle Ages: To how people’s
relationship to nature all over Europe have changed from mythical consciousness to an attitude of
conquest, from being dependent on nature to liberation from it. In Norway these processes happened
lately, over a few decades during the mid 19th century and were strengthened because they coincided
with the urbanization and industrialization of the country, the international race for the poles, the
formation of an independent Norwegian national state and the need to proclaim a national identity
which differed from those of the former ruling cultures of Denmark and Sweden.
However, also other changes can be traced. For example, with the breakthrough of the Enlightenment
and modern eras, the metaphor of nature as a fertile woman and mother was gradually replaced by the
image of a clock or a machine. This change has been interpreted as a sign that with industrialization,
the earlier organic-archaic view of nature was replaced by a mechanical view. Changes that were
paralleled by a marginalization of women in society, and the advancement of a view that perceived
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women as qualitatively different from, and subordinate, to men (Merchant, 1980). The basis for the
modern polarized gender perception and hierarchy may also be linked to the growth of the at the time
new scientific and medical knowledge and to the gendered educational philosophy of Swiss-French
philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778).
In his novel Émile: or, on Education, published in 1762, Rousseau paved the way for a modern
understanding of childhood and education. What was revolutionary was the link he established
between self-sufficiency and freedom. By this Rousseau tried to solve this new at the time educational
paradox; how to provide an upbringing in freedom with the help of an external authority, by referring
to nature as the mother of all education (Korsgaard & Løvlie, 2003). Through ‘natural’ observations,
experiments and studies in pastoral landscapes, Rousseau argued, boys would have the freedom to
pursue and develop their own inner nature, while the task of the educator was to prepare or convey
them. Thus boys could develop their physical strength and their characters be tempered – according to
the ideal of ‘the noble savage’. Free play in nature was thus perceived to have an ennobling quality: a
wise man must first have been a shrieking, jumping and playful young boy. While boys were seen to
have a natural right to their own childhood and to be free and authoritative, girls should be trained in
maternal pursuits and to serve the needs of man (Martin, 1985). Rousseau’s concern was thus with
human nature and the nature he wished to ‘return to’ was thus that which, in an ideal way, may serve
self-awareness through an understanding of the outside world (Løvlie, 1990). However, the
misunderstanding linked to the slogan ‘back to nature’, has subsequently been used, amongst others,
by progressive and anti-authoritarian outdoor educationalists since the 1970s.
It was later, by Romanticism that the idealizing of the wild, untouched and ‘virgin’ nature was forced
forward, a process that took several centuries and which was strengthened by industrialization.
Broadly speaking the further process of transformation can be described thus: whereas the eighteenth
century was distinguished by a distant admiration for high mountains, nineteenth-century (male)
educational travel ventured into the wildest glacier landscapes and to the top of the highest mountains.
During the twentieth century, the world’s poles and its highest summits and peaks were conquered. In
parallel with this, an enthusiasm for the joys of verticality and fear was expressed to a greater and
greater extent; a rationality that in fact follows the record spiral of modern sports achievements
(Macfarlane, 2003). It was the Romantic perception of nature that established culture and civilization
in earnest as a negative contrast to the world of the untouched or virgin nature. Thus nature was no
longer perceived as God’s Creation and image but as the location of the development of the ego.
Several researchers have linked the attractiveness of the sublime; the mastery of (Alpine) nature,
aesthetic elevation, individualization and (bourgeois) male identity formation and education to the
breakthrough of modernity (Simmel, 1895; Macfarlane, 2003). By projecting oneself into nature, the
individual (man) could experience “swelling” confirmation of the self. The British historian Robert
Macfarlane (2003: 158-9) claims that the attractiveness of altitude “coincided perfectly with the
Romantic glorification of the individual. A summit was somewhere one could stand out – could be
The distinction between outdoor pedagogies that find’s its model amongst shepherds and other folk
dwelling in cultural landscapes, and that which seeks to master and conquer or just experience the
wild, untouched mountain tops may still have relevance. It may for example be linked with
contemporary gender relations and developments in outdoor education but also to the understanding of
why outdoor adventure and environmental pedagogies frequently emphasizes ‘wild natures’.
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Contextualizing Nature across culture: ‘Nature-deficit in children and youth’
Across western societies the interest in outdoor pedagogies are increasing among politicians, teachers,
social youth workers, academics, and parents, connected with environmental concerns, a fair that
children and youth in to day’s post-industrialized societies are no longer getting first hand experiences
of ‘natural phenomena’ and the ‘natural worlds’, and with the growth of health issues like physical
inactivity and obesity. A number of factors may be related: more people live in urban areas; the
disappearance of green areas in urban neighborhoods; a loss of spaces suited for children and youth’s
self-managed play and games; stress related to family schedules, and increased rates of unemployment
and social inequality.
The seriousness of the environmental problems humanity face is widely discussed, as is the role of
education for sustainable living and how (outdoor) education can or should address these issues. In
UK and North America, as well as in Norway, much of environmental education theory and practice
rests on the assumption that human’s disconnection from (wild) nature is a fundamental problem
(Takano, 2005). While many environmentalists and educators suggest that indigenous peoples’
traditional beliefs and the ways in which they relate to the natural environment have significant
implications for sustainable living, many outdoor educators feel inspired by and argue in favor of
outdoor education based on indigenous practices and views. Another rational underpinning much
environmental outdoor pedagogy seems to be the idea that childhood experiences of intimacy with
nature and natural places (more or less automatically) leads towards respect for all forms of life and
thus a more sustainable society. These are hypothesis that can be empirically researched. Based on
empirical research Swedish Klas Sandell (1999) has made the important point that qualitatively
different styles of outdoor practice; both (local) ‘simple nature-life’ and (global) ‘high-tech adventure’
are potential ‘outcomes’, as the human-nature relationship cannot be understood as predictable causeeffect explanations.
The interest in children and youth education in nature does also reflect a growing international concern
about what the American environmentalist and journalist Richard Louv (2005) in his ’landmark work’
Last Child in the Woods, calls ‘nature-deficit disorder’ which is ”fueled by this fundamental idea:
(that) the child in nature is an endangered species, and the health of children and the health of the
Earth are inseparable”. Underpinned by research Louv’s point of reference is ”a generation so plugged
into electronic diversions that it has lost its connection to the natural world”. Further his arguments are
guided by the hypothesis that ”One generation from now most people in the U.S. will have spent more
time in the virtual world than in nature”.
These are generalizing interpretations representing serious, depressive perspectives and concerns.
Concerns that might have a connection also to the critical step everyone is facing in their lives; the
transition from the educational system into the labor market. For some time now, this step has become
even more problematic, due to crisis in the working opportunities, especially for unskilled workers, in
particular for young people leaving or finishing secondary education with only the most basic level of
skills. If one wants to prevent or mitigate this threatened state of exclusion of particular groups one
will have to provide opportunities to catch up on their inadequate socialization and to develop their
ordinary life skills. It has been shown, for example by people attending this conference, that outdoor
activities and confrontation with natural situations can constitute suitable media to convey competence
so that the individuals are developing new skills and new models of life (e.g. Becker et. al., 2005;
Ashworth, 2010).
However, more colorful but socially contextualized pictures of children and youth’s relations to nature
are also present. For example, in lightly urbanized areas in Sub-Arctic Norway informal transfer of
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everyday-life-related nature-based knowledge, skills, values and worldviews related to work in
outlying areas was dominant up until the late 20th century, both among the indigenous Sami and
Norwegians. As late as the 1990s, formal outdoor education was regarded as strange and totally
unnecessary and thus as something needed only by immigrated urban dwellers from farther south
(Gurholt, 2008). However, since the 1990s there has also been a tremendous growth in the general
interest in outdoor education study programs in Folk High Schools and Higher Education all over
Norway; programs that have become so popular that the students must have the highest level of
academic standard to be accepted. And the girls are about to become a majority.
About the program of the conference
A Slovenian myth, articulated at the Norwegian web-site www.camingnorge.no, declares that: “God
created Slovenia to himself. He wanted an oasis into which he could retreat when he had fulfilled the
Creation of the World”.4
Located in the middle of Europe, the Slovenian landscape carries natural qualities that can be found across
Europe, such as high alpine peaks, mountainous pastures, fertile farmland, rivers, lakes, caves and
Mediterranean beaches. While at the same it has been exposed to centuries of struggling European
civilizations. Though it offers a richness of insights into multidimensional ways in which ‘Nature’ has
been and is experienced, explored and encountered and made meaningful to people.
In consideration of the historical, socio-cultural and environmental contexts the issues put on the
conference agenda touches the most profound questions of life. Since many professionals (teachers,
social and youth workers, therapists, and counselors), use outdoor practices in their everyday work, the
board of the European Institute in collaboration with CŠOD found it a worthwhile project to initiate a
European discourse about the different ways in which nature is approached and understood in
universities and higher educational outdoor study programs and in formal and non-formal outdoor
education by inviting papers addressing questions like the following:
• What do ‘we’ mean when talking about Nature in Outdoor Education and Experiential Learning?
Does nature serve as backdrop, as an extended fitness centre or gymnasium, in which
activities such as mountain biking, canoeing or climbing can be carried out?
Or: Is nature seen as a counter-world that offers activities that allow people to forget
the pressures of everyday life?
Or: Is nature seen as a part of us, as the outside extension of our inner state, that we as
humans should treat cooperatively and like a friend?
• What is it more precisely that we are encountering, exploring or experiencing when we do take
children and youth outdoors?
What do these encounters, explorations and experiences mean to young and adult?
How do children and youth undertaking various forms of formal and non-formal
outdoor education understand, interpret and conceptualize nature?
• What can be learned – or transferred - from outdoor practices and experiences developed in
specific pedagogical situations and contexts?
http://www.camingnorge.no/artikel/Slovenia-et-Europa-i-miniatyr.html, downloaded 27.07.2010.
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• What are the concepts of nature developed in outdoor study programs of universities, and colleges
of higher education?
The anthropological approach underpinning the theoretical reflections of the conference mirrors the
mission of the European Institute: Comparing different understandings of and ways of approaching
nature may not only make understandable what common ground the different approaches might share
but also where they are special. The conference papers are organized in fifteen sessions dealing with
topics like (cf. Becker, 2009): aesthetical and sensual approaches, the modest logic of observation, the
caring logic of preservation, the logic of discovery and of adventurous travel that is open to the future, the
pedagogical logic of Bildung or enculturation but also of using nature as an instrument, the sober logic of
unraveling, the inconsiderate, narcissistic logic of seeking self-awareness, the engineering logic of
interference and manipulation, and the aesthetic logic of simple life.
Arler, F. (2009) Biodiversitet. Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag.
Ashworth, A. (2010) Water and Wilderness Journeys. Change Facilitated by an Ever-Changing
Environment. (pp. 85-102). In: Becker, Schirp & Weber (eds.) Water – Space for
Experiences. Marburg: bsj Marburg.
Becker, P. (2010). About the necessity of an Education that is Oriented towards Sensory
and Physical Activity. (pp. 7-17). In: Becker, Schirp & Weber (eds.) Water – Space for
Experiences. Marburg: bsj Marburg.
Becker, P. (2009) Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature. A few explanatory observations.
Slovenian Conference 2010. EOE-paper.
Becker, P. & Schirp, J. eds. (2008). Other Ways of Learning. Marburg: bsj Marburg.
Becker, P., Schirp, J. & Weber, C. eds. (2010). Water – Space of Experience. Youth and Outdoor
Education in Europe. Marburg: bsj Marburg.
Becker, P. et. al. (2005) The Next Step. Adventure and Outdoor Activities for Youth at Risk in the
Transition from School to Work. Marburg: bsj Marburg.
Gurholt, K.P. (2008) Norwegian friluftsliv as Bildung – a Critical Review. (pp. 131-154). Becker, P.
& Schirp, J. eds. (2008). Other Ways of Learning. Marburg: bsj Marburg.
Hegge, H. (1990) Det moderne friluftslivet i historisk og filosofisk perspektiv. In: Andersen, G. (ed.)
Momenter til en dypere naturvernforståelse. (pp. 43-57). Oslo: Vett & Viten.
Korsgaard, O. & Løvlie, L. (2002) Dannelsens forvandlinger. Oslo: Pax Forlag.
Louv, R. (2005) Last Child in the Woods. Saving Our Children from nature-deficit Disorder. Chapel
Hill: Algonquin Books.
Løvlie, L. (1990) Den estetiske erfaring. Nordisk Pedagogikk, 1-2: 129-146.
Macfarlane, R. (200.) Mountains of the mind. A history of fascination. London: Granta Books.
Martin, J. R. (1995) Reclaiming a Conversation. The Ideal of the Educated Woman. New Haven and
London: Yale University Press.
Merchant, C. (1980) The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution . New York:
Harper and Row.
Mihelic, T. (2007) The Julian Alps. Ljubljana: Sidarta Guides.
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Pedersen, K. (1999) “Det har bare vært naturlig!” Friluftsliv, kjønn og kulturelle brytninger. PhDthesis. Oslo: Norwegian School of Sport Sciences.
Sandell, K. (1995) Naturkontakt och utveckling. In: sandell, K. & Sörlin, S. (eds.) Friluftshistoria. (pp.
223-235). Stockholm: Carlssons Förlag.
Simmel, G. (1895/1991) The Alpine Journey. Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 8: 95-98.
Soper, K. (1995) What is nature? Oxford: Blackwell.
Takano, T. (2005) Connection with the land. www.sagepublications.com Vol. 6(4): 463-486.
Williams, R. (1976) Nature. Key-Words: A Vocabulary of Society and Nature. London: Fontana.
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Mountaineering as an Important Part of Outdoor Education
Dr Stojan Burnik
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Sport, Slovenia
[email protected]
Dr Irena Mrak
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography
[email protected]
The outdoor education is an important part of the modern education and as such it should be present at
all educational levels. It is already recognized in various forms throughout the globe but its starts go
back into 50.ies (20th century) when the French started to combine the regular education to skiing
lectures. This kind of education was supported by the International congress for physical activities in
Brussels and was as such suggested to all the countries with the skiing tradition.
In Slovenia Jože Beslič (the counselor at the Institution for the physical education) in 1962 suggested
that the children in the fourth grade should get a 10 days swimming course and the children from the
fifth grade should obtain a one week skiing course. It was the very next year that the primary schools
children from the Ljubljana Center Municipality attended the swimming course in Savudrija and the
skiing course in Gorje as a part of a regular education process.
In 1964 the term “outdoor education” was used by J. Beslič and J. Mesesnel while writing the first
manual guide for outdoor education in which there were sports as well as other topics represented.
From the very beginning the outdoor education in Slovenia is recognized as an important and integral
part of the overall education. From the mid 80.ies the extent of the outdoor education was diminished.
S. Kristan wrote that 75% of Slovenian schools in 1985 practiced the summer outdoor education, 62%
in 1986 and only 20% in 1991. The main reduction reasons were the outdoor education to became an
nonobligatory subject, the unconsolidated financing, the overall missunderstandment of the outdoor
education among the deans and teachers, the passiveness of some schools and gym teachers as well as
the dropping quality of living of parents etc. (Kristan, 1998).
Today the outdoor education is defined in the “Law on primary school” setting its place in the so
called extended program. Therefore the organization of the outdoor education is obligatory for schools
but the attendance of pupils is volunteering. Schools are obliged to organize at least 2 outdoor
educations per year but the pupils can choose one, two or none.
Financing is arranged by the “Law on organization and financing of the education and uprising” where
it is clearly defined that the state budget covers personal expenses of the organizers of the outdoor
education programs but all other costs are covered by parents or others. This means that many pupils
can not attend the outdoor education and for them the school is obliged to organize a similar program
at school. Despite all outdoor education is attractive, useful as well as modern way of education and it
is developing as such to also rise the quality of the pedagogical work.
On the state level the establishment of so called Centers for school and side school activities sort of
over passed the legal decisions which limited the outdoor education development. These centers are
working as a part of the Ministry of Education and Sports which assures the appropriate funding for
their development; by them the outdoor education organization and planning in Slovenia is much
easier. Relatively accessible prices, good technical equipment and well trained pedagogical staff
enable the implementation of qualitative and relatively cheap outdoor education. The work in centers
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is organized in the way that mostly three basic programs are overlapping. The sport program (such as
skiing course, sport climbing, pedaling, trekking, swimming, biking, orientation course etc.) is highly
present either as aform of education or as a free time activity.
The qualitative outdoor education needs to be educative, physiologically efficient as well as rich in the
experiences, friendly and amusing (Kristan, 1998). The outdoor education aims were defined by
various authors and are presented within the outlines of the outdoor education for the 9 year primary
school. The ex minister for school, science and sports dr. Gaber in the publication »Z glavo v
naravo/using “head” in the nature« (Gros, 2002) wrote, that the main goal of outdoor education is to
educate the youth for the active life in nature and with it through various outdoor activities. Parallel
the youth should be aware of nature protection and also of nature values which should be incorporated
into the individual value system. There is also a great emphasize on socialization. Multiple day
socializing, positive interaction in the group, relaxed atmosphere, the focused work etc. are the biggest
advantages of the outdoor education which additionally motivate pupils and influence the different
attitude to educational fields (Gros, 2002). Additionally the children through outdoor education gain
or improve their knowledge in sports, natural and social sciences; living in nature additionally
positively influences their physical and psychological development.
The swimming skills, skiing, mountaineering skills, sport climbing as well as all other activities
included in the outdoor education program have positive effect on the safety and self protection.
Many Slovene and foreign authors (Balazik, 1995; Kristan, 1998; Burnik, 2003) have proven positive
effects of outdoor education within an individual personal, moral and social development, health
status and the way to use personal free time.
Nature protection and cultural heritage protection are among the most important tasks not only of the
outdoor education but of the entire educational system. The environmental education is presented in
two publications dealing with summer and winter outdoor education (Kolar and Cankar, 2002; Cankar
in Vičar, 2004).
All these important aims are easier to reach through outdoor education because it is the type of work
that enable the usage of methods and forms of work which are harder to be used in the regular
education programs (i.e. field, group and project work). Therefore outdoor education has to remain a
part of the modern school.
Novak (1990) claims that in the concept of the primary education the specific importance have those
educational aims that are oriented towards analysis of cultural-historical, social-economic and socialpolitic orientation and condition in our society. The most important is the formation of personality
which is capable to be actively involved into modern development flows as well as to influence the
development itself. To create such a personality it is of extreme importance to obtain certain skills
already in the primary school. Among them those that are encouraging the self initiative, creativity,
the capability to communicate and cooperate with others etc. are very important. Only the overall
democratic social climate enables the development of these personal characteristics and the outdoor
education is one of its most important variations. It enables a special form of education in which the
relation pupil – teacher is usually more free and pristine, the relations among pupils become
intensified, the individuals learn to adapt the group and common interests etc. Overall the social links
and relations are much more heterogeneous which is not the case within the usual educational
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The difficulties recognized within the usual educational process are also present in the outdoor
education and it can in this case even intensify and become less controlled. Mostly we can face the
lack of interest, over reactions, ignorance and other discipline problems. Beside this the problem of
safety and injury risk is becoming more present, sometimes leading to court.
Extremely important is also the experience value of the outdoor education. Through experiences of
sport as well as of other natural and social sciences contents in the nature the pupils can easily and in
the long run form their positive attitude towards the nature.
Experts mention two minds – an emotional and a rational one. Goleman mentions that such
differentiation is clearly found among “simple” people and that a thought, which comes from the
heart, follows different rules and is better remembered than a though, which comes purely from logic
(Goleman, 1997).
Sporting content of outdoor education should be pupil – friendly and as little competitive as possible.
All competitive contents should enable as many students as possible and give them all a chance to be
successful. They should accept sporting activities as a form and option of spending their free time, as
an activity, that will allow them to live a healthy and eventful life. That can happen only when
children find themselves in those activities and when through enjoyment, they learn to forget the pain.
Children can learn to love a certain sport activity even when they are a bit less motor developed –
sport climbing is a typical example of a sport, where children can establish themselves even through
successful protection and knowledge of rope techniques, not only by the difficulty of the mastered
course. Mountain oriented outdoor education offers (in addition to mountaineering trips) also rope
technique lessons, history, geography, botanic, orientation, fun activities, nutrition… recording and
photography of these activities is also an opportunity for creating a newsletter and establishing oneself
in the group through such means. We can also hold art and literary workshops and many more …
A night by the camp fire, spending the night in the open, cooking a dinner over the camp fire are new
and memorable experiences for most of the children and they enhance the feeling of being connected
to nature – such a night can even be carried out for all age groups.
A relaxed atmosphere, however, does not necessarily mean anarchy – all of this can still be carried out
with perfect respect of rules, order and discipline, which are by themselves an important element of
upbringing and also allow safety in outdoor education. Looking for recognition through allowing the
children everything is an inappropriate solution and point to the teacher’s inability to establish order.
The work of a teacher, involved in outdoor education is difficult and responsible and is often not
appreciated enough by the state or the school administration. Criticism is frequent, few get rewarded
and thanked, but we still need to persevere. The positive effect of outdoor education and the glow in
the eyes of the children make it worth it and redeem for all the hard work and trouble.
The Slovenes have a special attitude towards the mountains. Numerous philosophers, psychologists,
sociologists, geographers, historians, experts in sports, etc., tried to find the foundations for this
attitude, coexistence, and attachment to this small part of the Alps. As a basis they took fundamental
thoughts and philosophy, written and told as myths and legends by the old settlers and the first
mountain climbers. The locals even tried to hide their climbing achievements as they were afraid of
being accused of poaching. Even though wrapped in mystery, thoughts, feelings and ideals, they were
preserved written, painted, expressed by music, or told. Younger generations imitated and rewrote
them, added their own experiences, but the essence remained untouched. Even nowadays love for the
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homeland, longing to experience romantic, yet wild, beauty and desire to be the first all mix in
Mountains are one of the Slovenes’ national symbols. Even though the Slovene part of the Alps is
limited mostly to the north-eastern and the central northern part of Slovenia, the alpine landscape is
one of the prevailing stereotypes for Slovenia. Other parts of Slovenia also have their own local
landscape symbols and stereotypes, but they cannot compete with the alpine mythology, which has,
according to Šaver, became the prevailing Slovene collective idea as well as ideology. In the sense of
symbolic geography we can in fact introduce a term the Slovene Alpine Culture.
Until recently, the Slovene part of the Alps has been a symbolic geographic point over which the road
led to the European Promised Land. The adjective “alpine” represents here a positive footing inside
the Slovenian identity space and value orientation of the Slovene self-awareness as it marks the alpine
characteristics, which appear also in the neighbour Alpine countries, such as Austria, Italy,
Switzerland, Germany and France – which we used to, and sometimes still do, consider an ideal of
development and progress. At the same time, the alpine cult in a sense of high mountains is transferred
also into the environment of lower mountains, into the environment of hilly and flat world of the preAlpine region. The value rich metaphoric of the alpine serve in mostly hilly Slovene environment as
an invisible background for the construction of local identities, which find their bases in the context of
vineyard hills, as well as local sacred mountains and slopes with churches on their tops, local
“patriarchs” and hill ranges.
In the past, mountaineering also contributed to the Slovene national identity. The concept of identity is
not easy to define, even though identity seeking is one of the basics of human social living. Among
subjective and collective identities we seek our professional, social, religious, class, ethnic and also
national identity. For the Slovenes, national identity has always been of utmost importance as we were
included in the states of larger neighbouring nations from Austro – Hungarian Empire, SHS Kingdom
to Yugoslavia until 1991. The connection between national identity and mountaineering has many
reasons. Analyses have shown the importance of the consciousness of common territory, beside
common language, ethnic origin, culture and history, for national identity. In the case of Slovenia,
common territory is mostly the mountain world. Therefore, mountaineering undoubtedly played an
important role in the development of conscience about historic territory or homeland, respectively.
National motive has been the leading force in the Slovene mountaineering. In the Austro – Hungarian
Monarchy, Austrian and German nationalism put a tremendous pressure on the Slovenes, which lead
to the development of strong awareness of national identity expressing itself also in the mountains.
There was not any mountaineering organization in Slovenia which would organize the uprising against
German activities in our mountains at the time. This did not happen before 1893, when the Slovenian
Mountaineering Society was founded. Its major task was to build Slovene mountain huts, facilitate
Slovene mountain paths and introduce Slovene registration books. In fact, it was cultural taking over
the mountain world. We do not speak solely about technical facilitation of mountain paths, such as
painting signposts and building mountain huts, but also organized political and cultural activity based
on national motives. One of the most active was Jakob Aljaž, who was a priest in Mojstrana. He
bought the piece of land at the top of Triglav and built a tower on it. His tower is a symbol which
means that the top of Triglav belongs to Slovenians.
Triglav and the Slovene mountains are a national symbol and have contributed to the development of
common motives and historic memory. Triglav, with the contribution of mountaineers, became a place
and symbol of historical Slovenian collective liberation. Triglav is featured in our national flag and
coat of arms, not to mention numerous public and private companies, which bear its name.
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The cultural dimension of mountaineering is shown in the efforts to preserve the Slovene language
and national symbols, national and cultural heritage, formation of mass culture and, last but not least,
in the educative work of the Mountaineering Association of Slovenia.
Mountains appear in all artistic fields. Mountains have served as an inspiration to numerous painters,
poets, composers and writers in the past centuries as well as nowadays. Considering the small number
of Slovenes, the number of written books is quite impressive. Mountains were also the subject of the
first two Slovene silent movies In the Kingdom of the Ibex (1931) and The Sheer Slopes of Triglav
(1932). In the process of the production of those movies, the first movie companies in Slovenia were
founded. We should not neglect the contribution of printed media, such as Planinski vestnik, which
has been supporting the Slovene national identity through its articles since 1895.
As a part of civil society, the Mountaineering Association of Slovenia has a high quality system for
the education of its experts. Through constant education it contributes a lot to the safety in our
The Code of Honour of the Slovenian Mountaineers has also played an important role in the formation
of common culture. It should not be overlooked that mountaineering is one of the activities that also
contribute to sustainable development of mountain regions.
Exceptional achievements of the Slovene alpinists have also supported the development of the
national awareness. The French were the first to climb an 8000 meter peak – Anapurna, the English
were the first to step on the highest mountain of the World – Sagarmata or Everest, the Germans had
their »mountain of death« – Nanga Parbat, and the Slovenes had their Makalu. Thirty-three years ago
we succeeded in first ascent climbing of our first 8000 meter peak, which has put us in the place
among the alpinist elite, where we still stand today. The Yugoslav Himalayan expeditions (YAHE)
have been changed to Slovene, as well as expeditions of single clubs or excellent alpinists. Our
alpinists have climbed all 8000 m peaks, many of them first ascent (FA). Davo Karničar performed
the first integral skiing from the top of Mt. Everest. Our quality have been recognised by the whole
World, even formally, as our alpinists won the Golden Pick Award, which is a special prize awarded
for the most important alpinist achievement of the year in the World: in 1991 (Andrej Štremfelj and
Marko Prezelj) and 1996 (Tomaž Humar and late Vanja Furlan) and 2007 (Marko Prezelj, Boris
Lorenčič and Pavle Kozjek, for the alpinist achievement awarded by the audience).
Mountain climbing and mountaineering education in various forms, is present at the Faculty of Sport
since the beginning of the institution. Initially, as Outdoor activities, then later as Sport tourism and
then Mountaineering, which was some years back joined by an elective course called Mountaineering
activities in nature. More important than the name of the subject is the content and purpose. Our
primary area is physical education. The fundamental purpose of our subjects is to educate and train
teachers to safely work in mountaineering education in schools. At the same time, of course, we want
to increase their enthusiasm for their work. A key area of interest is also introducing them to
competitive sport in mountaineering, such as alpinism, sport climbing, alpinistic skiing and ice
climbing. Faculty has organized two Himalayan expeditions (Šišapangma and Gasherbrum), three in
the Andes, one on Mount Elbrus, and Peak Lenin, and carried out several researches on those
expeditions, yet limitless options remain.
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Mountaineering and hiking is an integral part of physical education in elementary and secondary
schools in Slovenia. Some differences between different parts of Slovenia, and between individual
schools, of course, exist, as there are some specific requirements for the implementation of this sport.
The biggest problem is that such activities can not be carried out in the gym, as most other physical
education contents (with the exception of sport climbing and rope techniques learning).
Mountaineering contents of physical education are therefore carried out during sports days in schools,
during outdoor education and as a part of elective courses.
We note a decline of interest in mountaineering in physical education classes – several reasons can be
found for this. One of the most important is the emergence of many new, modern sports. Even more
important is probably the problem of security. Walking in the mountains, even the low mountain
ranges, requires a certain amount of skill from both teachers and pupils, discipline and consistency are
important, as well as physical and mental fitness. Failure to observe basic safety rules and laws of
movement in the mountains can quickly lead to accidents, with both minor and major injuries. The
easiest way to avoid this is of course to avoid organizing events, which would include and trips to the
mountains. Lower financial funds also contribute to the decreasing amount of these contents in our
schools, while a yearly trip to the same mountain each year can hardly contribute to the popularity of
Despite some of these problems, the fact remains that the mountain climbing in the broadest sense,
one of the most popular sporting activities in Slovenia, which includes both walking tours in more or
less mountainous region of Slovenian and on the other hand, alpinistic expeditions in high mountains.
In terms of education a school sport day or mountaineering oriented outdoor education offers an ideal
opportunity for interdisciplinary integration of field and project work. A mountain trip should always
go hand in hand with the content of geography, biology, chemistry, physics, history, the Slovenian
language, music education and other subjects.
Knowledge of mountaineering is welcome and needed also outside school areas. Many forms of
mountaineering (hiking, sport climbing, ski touring, climbing kindergartens etc.) also occur in
tourism, as a recreational activity and inhealth rehabilitative preventional activity.
The basic content of a mountain oriented outdoor education is stated in the programme called Ciciban
the mountaineer and Young mountaineer. This content is appropriate for children up and in the first
grades of elementary school to school. For older categories we have Mountain school and the Guide
textbook – the latter is intended mainly for the eduaction of professional mountain guides. Another
basis for the preparation of mountaineering and outdoor school sports days with mountaineering
content is study literature at the Faculty of Sport.
Both the program and the content must be in line with the concept of outdoor education, which was
adopted by the 46th meeting of the Scientific council of Slovenia for general education.
The main objectives of the mountaineering oriented outdoor education are: pupils adopt a respectful
and emotional relationship with nature and mountains; to inspire them to take walks and tours in the
mountains; to teach them how to move safely in the mountain world and teach them basic rope
The motives for walking in the mountainshave been researched by many Slovenian authors (Burnik,
1976, Gorenje, 2000 Friday, 2000; Zakšek and Zakšek, 2000; King, 2004). Most of the studies
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included adult subjects and most results show that the most important motive for mountaineering is
the beauty of the mountains. Most mountaineers chose this as their leading motive both in the
seventies as well as in 2000. The results therefore confirm the idea that the aesthetic experiencing of
nature and an emotinal relationship with it is the basis for mountaineering. We can speak of internal,
intrinsic motivation, which is frequently the most important factor for persisting in a sporting activity.
Important motives were also health and overcoming hardship with one's will. The aesthetic
component is less present in children than in adults (Kristan, 1988).
If we are to properly guide the children into mountaineering, we need to know what attarcts or averts
them. Walking as a physical acitivity is not very exciting for children, but it serves as a good
counterpart for sitting, which is what children do most of the time both in school and at home.
Therefore we need to be aware of their motives in order to encourage them to engage in
mountaineering as frequently as possible.
Motives for mountain hiking
We wanted to find out what motivates the children for mountain hiking and/or what attracts them to
Our sample group included 115 boys and 118 girls, all in fifth grade of elementary school in Slovenia.
The children were divided into two groups according to the place of residence. The first group
included 123 children (65 boys and 58 girls) living in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and its
surroundings. Ljubljana lies relatively far away from the mountains. The second group included 110
children (50 boys and 60 girls) living in the NW part of Slovenia, which lies at the foothill of the
eastern part of the Julian Alps.
The children participated in our research project voluntarily and anonymously. The average age of the
children was 11 ± 0,8 years.
The results showed that three most important motives were (as can be seen in Figure 1): nature and
animals, socializing with friends and family and the beauty of the mountains, beautiful views. The
motive of the aesthetic experience of nature seems to be important in children as well as in adults
(Zakšek & Zakšek, 2000) – it seems that adults pass down their enthusiasm for the mountains to their
children, both intentionally and sub - consciously.
The social motive is also important to children – excursions include spending time with friends,
making new ones, strengthen old ties, the informal, natural environment is enables everyone to relax.
They can learn about their place in the group, play, talk and help each other.
The following motives were also important: the positive effects of walking on the body, consumption
of calories and increasing fitness, sense of adventure, pride of having conquered the top, various
historical and war remains along the paths and mountain huts, sleeping in dormitories.
Even young people are aware of the positive effects of walking on the body and of importance of
health – “the health motive" was in the foreground in all our previous studies (Burnik, 2004) and
results from high health awareness of all generations.
Both adults and children like to do things that are challenging, that seem interesting and adventurous.
This was also confirmed by other authors and found that this motive is closer to the younger and
middle generations. In preparing the trip we should thus take into account that children will be more
pleased with a hike if it will include some sense of adventure and achieving goals, which is something
all school subjects should do - not just physical education.
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Figure 1: Motives for mountain hiking
History of Slovenes is closely associated with the fighting in our mountains, so it is understandable
that the historic and war remains alongside mountain paths serve as an important motivating factor
pathways. These are also the topics from other subjects (for example history) which can be upgraded
and enriched in mountains and they are another view, that can additionally motivate the children.
A special and attractive adventure is also sleeping in dormitories of mountain huts - for most children
this is something entirely new and therefore very interesting. Different environment and social
contactsattracts them and assist them in accumulating life experiences.
We also asked the children what they dislike about mountain hiking – they were offered ten items:
heavy backpack, strenuous walking, fear of the unknown region or high altitude, walking slower than
classmates, discomfort in the mountain cottage, inadequate equipment, walking is boring, being
pushed to walk, fear of bad weather or getting lost, walking in the mountains is unpopular. The
negative factors were evaluated on a scale from one to five and none of the factors ranged very highly,
as can be seen form Figure 2.
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Figure 2: Reasons against mountain hiking
The biggest deterrent in mountain hiking for children is a heavy backpack. This inconvenience can be
partly solved by teaching the children about appropriate backpacks, by providing them with a list of
what they need and by proper distribution of weight. Most children have too much stuff in the
backpack so it is advisable to check the weight of the backpack before leaving and, if necessary,
decide which items should stay at home or at school.
The next negative factor is the strenuous walking. Adequate physical and psychological preparation
are of vast importance in this case. Children should be gradually prepared for long-lasting physical
activity. Moreover, we believe that most children are fit enough, the problem lies in repetitive and
uninteresting activity. Lampret (2002) found that most children dislike hiking because of strenuous
A particular problem is the third factor - inadequate equipment. Many children really lack adequate
equipment, especially footwear for walking in the mountains. Frequently mountain hiking is chosen
by children, who can not afford other sport activities, but they also lack appropriate equipment for safe
and enjoyable hiking.
Mountaineering of children within the frame of their families and school activities with regard
to their natural environment
Regardless of their natural environment, approximately 10 % of children never go to a mountaineering
trip with their family. Nevertheless, the groups show statistically significant difference in the number
of mountaineering trips. Twice as much children from Ljubljana than from NW Slovenia answered
that they go to a mountaineering trip more than 15 times yearly. Considering that mountaineering is
especially popular in the summer and autumn this rate is in reality even higher. For these families
mountaineering is a part of their free time activities and their lives in general. Such a great difference
between both groups surprised us considerably.
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It is true, however, that in the next category of answers a similar difference appears, this time in
favour of the group from the mountainous environment. Almost 20 % of children from this
environment go to mountaineering trips with their families 8 to 15 times yearly. Undoubtedly, for
these children and their families mountaineering is also a part of their free time activity. Smaller, but
still considerable differences appear in the category 4 to 8 times yearly. In this group children from
Ljubljana are the most active. The results of our research confirmed the statements made by other
authors, saying that mountaineering is in Slovenia a popular and mass sport, which can also be
considered a family sport.
A different picture is shown when mountaineering as a school activity is considered. Here, children
living in mountainous environment show a considerable advantage. Both groups show statistically
significant differences, which, of course, can be expected. Schools situated in mountainous
environment can easily and often organise mountaineering activity within the frame of sport days,
selective contents or mountaineering activities. Apart from the vicinity of the mountains, this can also
be assured by physical education teachers, who have special skills in mountaineering. It is surprising
that almost 40 % of all children, regardless of their natural environment, doesn’t go to a
mountaineering trip organised as a school activity even once, which is contradictory even to the
recommendations of school authorities as much as common sense. This is especially true for schools
that are located in mountainous environment. It is, of course, appreciable that schools have a wide
variety of physical education programmes to offer, but it is intolerable that a high degree of children
never go to a mountaineering trip organised as a school activity, especially considering all positive
impacts of a well organised mountaineering trip.
več kot 15x
Figure 5: Yearly number of mountain trips (with respect to the family’s environment)
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več kot 15x
Figure 6: Yearly number of mountain trips (with respect to the school’s environment)
Environmental impacts of mountaineering, environmental education and its role in the outdoor
For mountaineering the natural environment is of crucial importance as being the main attraction
factor. The prevailing environmental impacts of mountaineering are negative, the only one positive is
the defining of protected areas, which consequently means that the natural environment is gaining a
monetary value and therefore it needs to be managed by certain finances. One other thing quite
specific for mountaineering is that its environmental impacts spread on relatively large areas.
Among the negative environmental impacts of mountaineering we need to point out the following:
The construction of infrastructure (i.e. mountain huts, trails etc.) representing an environmental
burdening in fragile mountain areas.
Large(er) amounts of waste.
Trail erosion on most used mountain trails. Beside that the soil becomes more pressed and
losses the organic contents, the porosity is decreased, the water flow is incrsed and therefore it
leads to intensified soil erosion.
Negative effects on the vegetation and overall natural environment (i.e rock climbing can
damage the rock faces, cracks, destroy the vegetation etc.). The most common damage on
vegetation is made with braking of branches, the diminished ability of the vegetation
regeneration, the loss of vegetation cover and the change in plant species.
The all year presence of mountaineers can influence the breeding habits of wildlife.
Overall negative impact on fragile mountain ecosystems can also lead to the loss of
The impacts are mostly spatially spread especially in areas where mountaineers are also using the
unmarked trails.
Environmental education is strongly connected to environmental ethics which was already present in
old civilizations. They were aware of the interrelations and impacts not only among the individuals
but also between the nature and the space. The so called “collective memory” is still present in the
modern societies but we are less aware of it. The present society is extremely anthropogenically
oriented, which means that the natural environment should be totally in control by the humans and in
use for them. The latest brought to the ecological crisis which is already well shown in the
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environmental pollution, the overuse of natural resources and in climate changes (Curry, 2006).
Therefore it is more than ever important to stick to the environmental ethics rules among which the
responsible relation towards the environment is one of the most important.
Despite the anthropogenic relation towards the environment the environmental ethics is slowly
gaining its importance especially through better understanding of negative environmental impacts of
human activities and also through the awareness that the natural resources are limited.
The complexity of environmental ethics is also present in mountaineering. The so called
mountaineering ethics is a group of values and beliefs which influence mountaineers and to certain
extent their activities are also led by them. With regards to the value system, mountaineers are
accepting decisions at all forms of activities including where and how the activities are implemented,
what is the relation of mountaineers towards the mountain environment as well as in what way the
mountaineering activities should develop (The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, 2008).
One of the most important rules of mountaineering ethics is the rule of the truth, which means that the
mountaineers are obliged to report their achievements according to the truth and their activities are
ethical only in case they are “doing the right thing”. If mountaineering at the beginning was mostly
research and discovering of mountain areas it gained a totally different dimension in past 100 years. It
mostly became a sport activity which also incorporates a certain level of competitiveness. But never
the less it is believed that the mountaineers are aware of their responsibility at mountain environment
protection although in some cases the environmental situation is proving the opposite.
The mountaineering environmental ethics rules should be clearly presented on various occasions and
here we see a very important role also in the outdoor education. The mountaineers are supposed to
maintain the traditional values of mountaineering which comprise also the awareness of negative
environmental impacts of various mountaineering activities. Every individual should be aware of their
responsibilities as well as of its capabilities towards the companions, the mountain environment as
well as towards the mountaineering as a sport activity (Birrer et al., 2007).
The motives as well as the values of the mountaineers are of crucial importance when the
mountaineers are active in the mountain environment and as such they highly influence its state. The
mountain environment is specific and also the human activities in it are specific therefore the set up
core value system and the environmental perception of the mountaineers can highly contribute to the
sustainable development of the mountain environment.
The role of outdoor education in this case is immense: the core values of pupils can be upgraded as
well as consolidated through the educational program in the nature. The outdoor activities bring pupils
closer to the actual natural environment and they are able to develop a primary contact with it. The
most positive result of such interaction is the awareness of the vulnerability of the natural environment
and of the importance of its preservation.
Let us conclude our discussion with the thought of an author, philosopher and alpinist, Igor
Škamperle, who wrote in his book entitled Swallow's Flight (1999): »the mountain stood there before
we came to it. Its language is not ours, but exists forever just like the universe, nature, reality. When
someone comes and catches its voice, when he feels the cutting edge and falls in love with its
harmony not being able to explain it, he did not get lost in imagination and imagined something nice
and interesting, but discovered things that have always existed. He did not invent them, he found
them. A mountain is a symbol, perhaps one of the oldest ever known to man«.
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Balazik, D. (1995). Outdoor & Adventurous Activities for Junior. London: A&C Black.
Bečaj, J. (1997). Temelji socialnega vplivanja. Ljubljana: Filozofska fakulteta.
Birrer, R., Birrer C. D., Birrer D. E., 2007. Mountaineering Ethics: Quo Vadis?
http://www.explorers.org/journal/spring07/mountaineering_ethics.php (24.11.2008)
Burnik, S. (2003). Turno smučanje, plezanje v snegu in ledu. Ljubljana: Fakulteta za šport.
Cankar, F., Vičar, M. (2004). Okoljska vzgoja v zimski šoli v naravi. Ljubljana: Zavod Republike
Slovenije za šolstvo.
Curry, P., 2006. Ecological Ethics: An Introduction. Polity Press.
Goleman, D. (1997) Čustvena inteligenca. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga.
Gros, J. in sod. (2001). Šola v naravi za 9-letno osnovno šolo. Ljubljana: MŠZŠ.
Gros, J. in sod. (2002). Z glavo v naravo. Ljubljana: Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti.
Gross, R. (2003). Key studies in psychology, 4th edition. Bristol: Hodder & Stoughton.
Ivančič, M. (1985). Značilnosti organizacije in poteka zimske šole v naravi v Ljubljanski regiji v
šolskem letu 1982/83. Ljubljana: Fakulteta za telesno kulturo.
Jereb, B., Karpljuk, D., Burnik, S. (2003). Heart rate responses to uphill walking in 9-to 10-yr-old
boys and girls. Kinesiologia Slovenica, vol. 9, 1.
Kolar, B., Cankar, F. (2002). Spoznavamo okolje v poletni šoli v naravi. Ljubljana: Zavod Republike
Slovenije za šolstvo.
Kristan, S. (1998). Šola v naravi. Radovljica: Didakta.
Novak, H. (1990). Projektno učno delo. Ljubljana: DZS.
Petrović, K., Amrožič, F., Bednarik, J., Berčič, H., Sila, B. & Doupona Topič, M. (2001)
Športnorekreativna dejavnost v Sloveniji 2000 /Recreational Sport Activity in Slovenia
2000/, Šport,3, (suppl.)
Rot, N. (1983). Socijalna interakcija I. Beograd: Društvo psihologa SR Srbije.
Sivec, J. (2000). Analiza stanja šole v naravi v šolskem letu 1998/99 v mestni občini Kranj. Ljubljana:
Fakulteta za šport.
Strgar, B. (2000). Pregled vsebin in organiziranost Centra šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti v Sloveniji.
Ljubljana: Fakulteta za šport.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, 2008. Mountaineering and Climbing Ethics.
http://www.mcofs.org.uk/mountaineering-climbing-ethics.asp (24.11.2008).
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Social Influence in Outdoor Education
Dr Tanja Kajtna
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of sport
[email protected]
Physical education teachers are often faced with the question how to prepare pupils to participate in
different sporting activities, which are encompassed in the curriculae. Among the problems
encountered in physical education are lack of interest, low preference for movement, dislike for
movement, poor motor experience… Teachers are often faced with frequent more or less plausible
excuses and apologies for not cooperating, various disciplinary problems and many similar problems.
The same happens, when children come to outdoor education, where even some additional aspects
need to be addressed - such as safety issues, everything is new to the pupils, some of them may not
react very well to novelties, some might be afraid of novelties, they might miss their home
environment etc… At considering these issues, we come across the teacher's authority and the
considerations of means, by which the teacher can influence the pupils and get them to do what he
wants to. A professor of physical education, who will be able to correctly influence the pupils, will
achieve the objectives of the subject and will be able to teach the pupils a healthy and positive attitude
towards movement in general and sport in particular. With using inappropriate (or less appropriate)
means of influence, will arouse dislike towards movement and sport - the potential health threat to the
student in subsequent years is obvious, since such pupils probably won't exercise enough on their
own. The purpose of this article is to show, what different means of influencing the pupils are and
how to use them specifically in the case of outdoor education – Slovenia is a country of enthusiasm
arousing nature and since we get the opportunity to hold mountaineering oriented outdoor educations,
we should influence our children »correctly« in order to teach them love towards the nature.
The concept of social power »gained independence« in social psychology in the first half of the 70-s,
when Moscovici and Faucheux pointed out that social influence and social power are two separate
phenomena. Previously, social power was believed to be the basis of influence – one could enforce
their social power through influence and influence was considered to be exercising of one's social
power (Moscovici & Faucheux, 1972, as cited in Bečaj, 1997). These authors differentiated between
two types of social pressure: coercion (power) and influence (the normative aspect) - the first one
leads to just apparent adaptation, whilst the other leads to genuine acceptance of issues, beliefs
etc...(Bečaj, 1997). Rot (1983) defined social power a phenomenon, the formation of social power is
something, that he believes to occur in all types of social groups and he believes social power to occur
intentionally and always with a certain purpose, since it's supposed to facilitate the functioning of a
social group. In our case, we can suppose that the use of social power of a physical education teacher
is intended to enable the completion of the task ahead, to safely teach a child to cross a mountain pass,
to teach him to efficiently use ropes, to teach him to love nature etc...If a physical education teacher
uses appropriate types of social power, he will achieve these objectives with a great certainty.
Social power has been defined by many authors – Cartwright & Zander state that social power is
present, when a person can make or cause another person to do something, that is, when the
behaviour of a person can cause a change in another person (Bečaj, 1997). Two important components
need to be addressed – together they make up for the motivational basis of power: the sources of
power held by the first person (e.g. person A) and the different needs of the person, to whom the
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influence is directed (e.g. person B). In our situation you can imagine a person A to be the physical
education teacher, a person B is a pupil in the physical education class or a pupil participating in
outdoor education activities. Traits and characteristics of person A (wealth, physical strength,
prestige, knowledge ...) can only affect person B only if they represent something that pleases that
person or if they are something that person B needs. According to these authors social power
represents the potential influence of person A over person B, which depends on the type of person A's
power and its attraction to person B. The impact is always only potential, since the person A might
note use his or her power, whilst the person B might be affected just by the awareness of person A's
power over him or her. Person B might also show dislike or resistance to person A - that should be
taken into account in the amount of impact person A might exhibit. The resistance can also be viewed
as a conflict – thus the person with influence (physical education teacher) needs to overcome the
opposing force of the pupil (for example his or her excuses, lack of interest...) (Cartwright & Zander,
1968, as cited in Bečaj, 1997).
The basis for acceptance of person A's influence are different types of power - thus person A's power
is not determined by his or her resources, but more by B's perception of those resources and of his or
her abilities and issues – a pupil will accept his teacher (and all his instructions and directions) better,
if the teacher will use correct types of social power, if he will be able to »motivate« the pupil through
the use of social power. The motivational basis of social power therefore lies in person B, that is the
pupil in our case – it is, after all, up to him or her to carry out the teacher's instructions. Cartwright and
Zander talk about six areas, which may trigger the motivation of the person B to take accept person
A's influence:
Wish for reward and punishment avoidance (a pupil wishes to be rewarded with a good grade
or by the teacher's praise, and he or she wishes to avoid punishment in the form of additional
activities or more work in the class)
Person B's desire to be similar to the admired person - person B (if the professor of physical
education is the pupil's role model, the pupil will follow his / her instructions and carry out
duties diligently, because he wants to become just like him, the professor must thus be the
pupil's model in the field of sport, physical education, movement ... of course the teacher must
also be physically fit enough to properly demonstrate the activities and he or she should give
the impression of good physical fitness and be the model for a healthy lifestyle - this is often
the main argument why even in the lower grades of primary school physical education should
be lead by physical education teachers and not primary education teachers.
Person B might be willing to accept person A's influence simply because of a value, which
cause him or her to accept the influence (a pupil for example might be prepared to accept the
instructions of the teacher simply because he has been taught to respect and obey authority,
which is what a teacher represents)
Person B might regard person A as the source of good and up-to-date information about a
certain topic or about any aspect of reality – authors speak of a person's desire »to be right« in the eyes of person B, person A is an expert in the field (the pupil will accept the instructions
of the teacher simply because he or she is the expert in the field of sport, motion...)
Motivational basis for B's acceptance of A's influence may also be willingness to adapt and
conform to the group – person be might be aware that his or her goals will only be achieved
through the cooperation with a group - this is supported by four features of a group: a group
can achieve a goal, a group maintains cohesiveness, a group creates its own "social reality"
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and helps group members determine their attitudes towards the environment. If person A's
impact is guided by one of these functions, person B can be expected to accept that influence
and his or her behaviour (in this case, the pupil will accept the teacher's instructions simply
because he or she is the leader of the current group and the role of the leader implies
determination of activities and guidance of the group)
The final motivational basis is internal pleasure, experienced by person B (a pupil will obey
the teacher because it will make him feel good and because he will be plesaed with himself or
This model is similar to the model developed by Thibaut and Kelley (1959, as cited in Bečaj, 1997),
who are representatives of social exchange theories. They believe that social interaction is the means
by which individuals satisfy their needs or achieve their goals. This is of course possible only through
other people, which is why people establish interpersonal relationships, in which we give something,
but also gain something in return - social relations could also be referred to as »exchange services«.
Each party enters into a relationship with specific needs and with offerings that might be interesting
for the other side. Each side will then assess what is the ratio between the bid and obtained, and
whether this relationship is worthwhile, whether it is therefore appropriate. Among potential partners,
a person will always choose the one that will appear to be the most profitable. According to this
model, every relationship is a bargain, in which we all try to maximize the outcome for ourselves.
Two individuals with different behavioural patterns in a social relationship are actually resolving a
conflict (and that exact word is extremely important in the educational context, in which the
establishing of rules and discipline appears as a conflict rather than anything else). One of the persons
usually has a significant impact on the amount of benefits that are relevant to the other person - in this
case, one person gains certain power over the other person and that person becomes dependent on the
first person (in the school situation it is in fact a teacher who has more power and provides and
determines activities and student behaviour). When person B has no other options and is unable to exit
from the relationship, he or she is, so to speak, left at the mercy of person A. Thibaut and Kelley say
that person A has control over person B's fate and behaviour control also gives A better opportunities
to negotiate. That is exactly what the teachers need to be aware of – they must recognize that pupils do
not really have a say in the activities and that they have considerable power over them. They should be
very careful not to abuse their power and force the pupils into activities, in which they refuse to
participate. When we talk about outdoor education, this should be particularly well acknowledged,
since negative experience and the feeling of pressure might deter the pupils from future outdoor
activities. It is, on the other hand, necessary to explain and demonstrate why the proposed activities
are beneficial and good for the students. The theory of Thibaut and Kelley can show us the
relationship between teachers and pupils, but the following theory is one that will show what is
acceptable and effective teacher behaviour.
One of the most important social researchers of social power are French and Raven (1959, as cited in
Bečaj, 1997). The amount of power held by a person A over person B’s according to them equal to the
difference between person A's power and person B's resistance to that power. Influence should be
understood as a kinetic power and social power as potential means of influence. Social power by
itself does not mean influence, even though it sometimes happens, that simply the presence of a
person with some power will change the behaviour of those present – thus simply the presence of a
police officer can change the way people drive. According to them, social influence is the result of
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forces which are at a particular time directed on a particular social category. The source of influence
is, of course, another social category (it can be an individual, a group, a norm...), but influence also
depends on a system in which it takes place – contextual factors should not be ignored. The authors
use a holistic approach in which the relationship between two people or two groups represents just a
part of a broader social field, with which they recognize the Bertalanffy general system theory - any
change in the individual component can lead to a change in all other components of the system. As in
the previously described theory of Thibaut and Kelley, also the French and Raven identified potential
sources of social power, by which a person can affect the behaviour of another person. The division,
which is among the most respected and also among those, who are most applicable to several fields of
our functioning, speaks of the following sources of power:
The power of the reward depends on how person A's ability to reward is perceived by person B.
Use of this type of power can increase the attractiveness of the person A, so this can type of power
can eventually turn into a reference type of power. If person A fails to fulfil his or her promises
and the reward doesn't appear, his or her power will be reduced. Thus a teacher who will first
invite the pupils into an activity by promising them reward for participation and will in outdoor
education for example promise them an outing of their choice or a fun evening and then fail to
fulfil them, will decrease his power of reward, which will also further lower the pupils will to
participate. Keeping the promises will on the other hand increase the power of reward and
improve the pupils engagement. Since a teacher in every situation (and thus also in outdoor
education) has potential to use reward, it is sensible to use it frequently, but sensibly – too much
reward also has its negative aspects.
The power of coercion or punishment power - its use usually maintains and intensifies person B's
dependence and reduces person A's attractiveness. It usually causes person B's desire to withdraw
from the situation. Punishment can be either removing something person B wants or providing (or
enabling) something the person B wishes to avoid. Teachers have frequent opportunities to punish
or coerce the pupils into activities, but with the use of this power, his or her attractiveness to the
pupils is greatly decreased and large amounts of fear can occur in the pupils (this fear is then
easily generalized or changed into dislike for sport, motion and outdoor activities in the case of
outdoor education) Teachers, who often use punishment, have few disciplinary problems and
pupils follow his directions and participate in the proposed activities, but the effects of this
punitive influence are short-termed and do not encourage a positive attitude toward sport and
motion. They are far more likely to increase fear and dislike for both the teacher and sport. The
use of such power is therefore not desirable, in extreme cases (physical punishment, verbal abuse)
it is also prohibited by law, if not merely ethically unacceptable.
The power of legitimacy – that is the power, which is believed to be the most complex and it
means that person A has certain claims or rights in relation to person B. As a motivational basis of
this power we can state cultural values and norms that determine who is allowed to do what and
what one should or should not do. These categories are internalized and developed and learned
through upbringing – person A can activate them simply by referring to them. In these cases, A
(teacher) always refers to something what is a person B (the pupil) has internalized, therefore the
teacher refers to a society's rule – this power is one of the most frequents explanations to why
participants of the Milgram electroshock experiment reacted by causing what seemed to be serious
damage to complete strangers (Gross, 2003). The teacher is according to generally accepted
criteria and norms a person, who can give orders, directions, who is supposed to lead...Pupils
follow his directions because it is »the proper thing to do« - they have learned this from their
parents and from the rest of the social environment. The use of only this type of power could lead
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to poor discipline in the classroom, making it impossible to make a proper implementation of
activities and objectives identified in the curriculum.
The reference power is the power of good relationship and is based on the identification of person
B with person A (person A is attractive to person B, even though person B might not even be
aware of this attraction). Cartwright and Zander state the motivational basis for this social power
to be imitation or identification. It is a concept from Festinger's concept of social reality - , when
an individual finds himself in an ambiguous situation, imitating someone may offer »a map« for
behaviour or action, we basically establish a reference point – hence the name of the power.
Physical education teacher has to be a role model for sport and for a healthy life style, needs to be
able to demonstrate well...Another reason why physical education teachers should be involved in
all levels of education, not just only after the first few years.
The power of expertise - even here, as well as in the case of the power of legitimacy, person B's
perception of person A's expert knowledge is important. If for any reason, A is not accepted as an
expert, he or she will not be able to use this power. This type can affects person B's cognitive
system – it changes his or her thoughts, beliefs...the information is automatically accepted,
because it comes from an appropriate source, namely from person A. It sometimes goes even so
far, that person B internalizes the information and forgets where it initially came from (French &
Raven, 1959, as cited in Bečaj, 1997).
Raven and Rubin added the sixth type of social power in 1976 and called it information power this power is used when the person carrying the information is far less important than the
information itself – the carrier of information is not necessarily person A – person B is affected by
the strength and importance of information itself. This power is more stable and relatively
independent of the situation when compared to other types of social power. A major focus is on
relativity, but intelligence, motivation and other variables of the person to whom the information
is intended, nevertheless play an important role (Rot, 1983). In a situation of physical education
this power would be used, when the teacher would tell something so very important, that the value
of information would surpass the value of the messenger - such sports teaching situations are
relatively few, so that type of social power might play a bit less important of a role than others, but
it might come in very handy when addressing safety issues in outdoor education.
Other authors, such as Lewin, Shaw, Blau and Mulder (Bečaj, 1997) also researched and dealt with
social power and although the concept of social power and its motivational basis might seem rather
vague at moments, we can sum up a few guidelines for physical education teachers and especially
teachers, engaged in outdoor education:
We need to talk with pupils
We need to give them a lot of information
Physical education teachers must serve as role models
We need to reward successful activities and use punishment moderately, preferably not at all
We must fulfil our promises
We need to continuously educate ourselves, so that we can be a good source of information
Simple instructions, which could be applied to all teachers on all levels of education and in every
single subject, included in our curriculae.
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Bečaj, J. (1997). Temelji socialnega vplivanja. Ljubljana: Filozofska fakulteta.
Gross, R. (2003). Key studies in psychology, 4th edition. Bristol: Hodder & Stoughton.
Rot, N. (1983). Socijalna interakcija I. Beograd: Društvo psihologa SR Srbije.
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Outdoor Education in Compulsory Education, a European Perspective
Karen Seierøe Barfod
VIA university college, Denmark
[email protected]
I have worked as a mole for years. Digging hidden under the cover of curriculums and tests, I’ve
worked on getting outdoor learning into elementary schools. If you can’t beat them – join them – so
our work has focused on how we can qualify the subject related work outside the classroom. Playing
Quiddich and learning about Harry Potter and English literature, discussing burial habits and
implied tombstone messages in the texts at the graveyard in religious education (RE), using a wide
range of activities to make the curriculum come alive outside the classroom.
Using your body, running
grammar into your mind
Sensory writing exercise in the church
– what do I smell? What do I hear?
What do I feel?
Outdoor education is widespread as residential experiences, and in school camps and adventure
excursions. It occurs in one form or another in almost all countries around the world5. In some places
connected more to physical education, personal and social development and in other places more so
with environmental education 6 . With the rising emphasis on testable academic skills, at least in
Scandinavia, “purposeless wandering around” in nature has been restricted during everyday education
and schooldays.
With European kids suffering from growing obesity and a life heavily dominated by screens, getting
in direct contact with the real world is a defining learning resource. All over Europe the conditions for
the kids are more or less the same. A life with less everyday physical exercise, growing obesity,
growing demands for academic literacy and testing, hours and hours of lessons sitting down in school
and leisure time. We must give the real world back to the children, to provide them with skills and
belief that can make them ready for the challenges of our changing world. As we have almost all
children in schools, this is a great place to integrate outdoor learning into everyday life, starting the
New World Encyclopedia
A.Sczezpanski and Lars Owe Dahlgren:” Udendørspædagogik – boglig dannelse og sanselig erfaring”, Børn
og Unge 2001
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undermining work of the Mole. If we can get just one teacher across the doorstep to use the outdoors
as a learning arena, we have already got a whole bunch of kids outside – even those that maybe would
not go there by themselves.
Our work concerns the issue of getting curriculum-based outdoor education into teacher education.
We want teachers to be to able to use the learning landscape outside the classroom during their
everyday work getting the subjects related to life. At this moment in Europe, this is, from our point of
view, only possible by changing the sedentary nature of the public school – not by making a
As we know that all teachers – at least outside the private schools7 are obliged to meet the demands of
the curriculum, we can start here. And we know that the most time consuming subjects are our
mother tongue and mathematics.
So this is our work, which has turned out to be succesful as a grassroot movement, connecting parents,
children and teachers in the belief that the outdoors has something to offer as a learning resource. We
have developed and tested courses that introduce curriculum-based outdoor learning in teacher
education. Foundation courses with basic knowledge about the theories and the basic ideas behind
getting the kids out, and subject courses, reflecting the subjects in the school. We work with the basic
ideas of Dr Arne Nikolajsen Jordet 8 , using the nearby environment as a classroom. As there are
limited resources in schools, we don’t want them to be used in providing transport and
accommodation, but we work with opening the classroom door, walking into the schoolyard, the
hedgerow around the soccer grounds, the nearby museum and the church.
Main problems
Many teachers search for easy to use, ready made and tested materials to use in the outdoors. As the
learning activities outdoors should be in close connection to what is learnt indoors9 , the teacher often
just have to think about which of the activities described in the textbooks could gain something by
being used outdoors. We need more material, even if the literature is still growing, on this field. Most
of the literature existing today concerns “how to make a bonfire”, and not too many describe how to
work with adverbs outside.
Being a well educated subject teacher, you don’t need so much more qualification, as the subjects are
still the same. But you need the qualities of courage, belief and fantasy10 to develop the learning
From the viewpoint of the teacher education
Believing that humans learn through a lot of channels, both sensory, physical and cognitive, we
developed the courses “learning about outdoor learning by working outside”. Two courses – a
foundation course basically working with learning theories and practical examples, e.g. on how to use
the senses in the learning process, how to evaluate and follow up and so on. Depending on what level
of students we get, we combine the practical exercises with the learning theories of Lev Vygotski,
John Dewey, David Kolb and other more recent “hotspots” as Dunn and Dunn and Howard Gardner’s
theory of multiple intelligences that have had great impact on modern schools. And then we give
subject courses, e.g. math in the outdoors. These courses should not be an option, these courses should
be compulsory, adding another colour to the palette of the teaching opportunities our teachers walk
out into the world with.
Eg Waldorfschools
Arne Nikolejsen Jordet: ”Nærmiljøet som klasserom”, Cappelen akademiske 1999
Arne Nikolejsen Jordet: ”Klasserommet utenfor”, 2010
Inspired from Dr Robbie Nicol, Edinburg University
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An experienced teacher just made his
own poacher’s flute, and is now
experiencing the sounds of the grass
leaf, the call of the deer, the feeling of
having been able to produce something
– and in a while, he has to describe
what parts of the curriculum in music
he just covered
A cubic meter, that is not a cube or a
dice – how big is it? How many IQ can
be inside this cubic meter?
Learning from practical, problem-based
learning processes by working with
Student exchange?
Sharing ideas and experiences around Europe should not only be an option for us, the researchers and
developers. This must be an option for the students and the in-service teachers. As you experience
other habits and discuss matters, other viewpoint on outdoor education will develop and sharpen your
own thoughts and practice.
So is this possible in a European perspective? To make a flow of students travelling and working with
outdoor learning, building up international competences and collecting ETCS points for their degree?
Honestly – no. Even if the Bologna process was to make the European degrees comparable, there’s
still a long way to go. Teacher training is connected to local educational systems – e.g. some kinds of
teachers are trained for preschools in some countries, but for a broader range of children in other
countries. Some teacher education focuses a lot on single or dual subjects, others are much broader.
Some teacher education is at universities, some at University Colleges with other rules and
accreditation. But still there’s the Comenius projects and courses, and a lot of students are willing to
go somewhere to learn in their spare time, to take another six months. It must be a field for further
work, to make the course concession easier. In teacher education we do not all have to be able to do
and know the same, as long as we know to whom and where to send the students.
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We must, as educators, still work IN the educations to make it possible for the students to experience
outdoor learning during their study time. If we can make courses IN the curriculum – and not only for
us who are already a part of the congregation – then we will see a lot more children use the
environment nearby as a learning resource, guided by experienced and well-educated teachers into the
curriculum of the compulsory school. No extra costs, just another learning option.
Karen Barfod is educated biologist and with a degree in physical education. Senior Lecturer and Programme Coordinator
Program leader on the newly established program Program on Outdoor learning at VIA university college with the aims on
developing the use of the outdoors in the basic teacher and preschoolteacher education. She has been working within teacher
education for almost 20 years, being a major driving force in developing the term “Udeskole” in Danish schools and at the
teacher education.
Has been the vocational leader of the project “OutLines” (www.outdooreducation.dk), a highly succesfull project on using
the outdoors as a part of the curriculum and subject based education in teacher education in 6 European countries. Starts by
now the Leonardo da Vinci project “In and Out” working with the collaboration between teachers and rangers (nature
interpretations) in an European context.
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Concepts of Nature in Outdoor Study Programmes of
Universities and Colleges of Higher Education
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Outdoor Teaching in Education for Primary School Teachers
Dr Vesna Štemberger
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Outdoor teaching is one of a contemporary ways of teaching. Even though someone is educated for
being teacher and has a lot of proper knowledge and competences for teaching he/she often uses old
ways of teaching. This is one of the reasons why university professors should use different ways of
teaching. We tried to figure out what kind of approaches university professors use in their
pedagogical work and what are advantages and disadvantages of such process.
Nowadays nature is used as a special kind of classroom which helps children and students in learning,
getting to know one another and themselves and in developing social abilities. There are also a lot of
different ways of so called fieldwork which can be realised not only in nature but also in different
institutions like museums, cultural and natural attractions etc. As results figure out learning is much
more efficient if learning environment is changed from time to time. Education in nature demands that
all of pupil’s receptors are active so the pupil is active participant of educational process. Fieldwork
does not have good reputation on the university level but it is crucial that students get enough
knowledge and experiences with that kind of teaching. This is the only way for transferring teaching
in nature in practice.
Lectures, seminars and different kinds of experimental work are often used at university level of
education. One of the oldest and commonly used ways of teaching is lecture. Due to frontal teaching,
personal characteristics and often low pedagogical knowledge of professor lectures nowadays are
under sharp criticism. Lectures have a high number of disadvantages such as:
Students are not active participants.
It is hard to achieve higher levels of knowledge (like synthesis, analysis, evaluation).
Professors often read their lecture.
But on the other hand there are some advantages of lectures if professor put questions to students,
allow students to ask questions and encourage them to solve problems. That kind of lectures is
important for students due to the fact that they can understand the problem of the subject. Because of
the high number of students (approximately 120 students per class) lectures take part at the faculty’s
lecture halls.
More proper kind of teaching are seminars which take place in smaller groups (between 8 and 20
students) and are devoted to group discussion with mostly intellectual goals and should be managed
by professor. At seminary works, in comparison with lectures, students and professors can:
Upgrading contents from the lecture part.
Introducing specific contents that require discussion.
Solve problems.
Forming opinions and developing occupational ethos.
Develop communications skills.
There are also some negative points of seminars such as poor quality of prepared term papers, poor
presentation, passive students, students who do not listen one another and students who do not know
enough about introduced topic (Bečaj, 2001).
Seminars are in comparison with lectures kind of teaching that can be carry out in nature (not only
outside of the faculty).
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Every professor should have in mind that active study is one of the best ways to achieve higher levels
of knowledge and lead to connecting previous knowledge with new knowledge. One of the important
parts of active study is definitely “study in nature”, especially when students are active participants
from the beginning of the process.
Teaching in university area is mostly rigid, so teaching in nature is more frequent in subject that
requires work in nature. But the nature could also be learning place for mathematics, history, foreign
language and so on. If professor knows, that his/her way of teaching is as much important as the
contest of learning, he/she will try to carry out part of pedagogical process in nature.
Because there are completely new educational programmes on the University of Ljubljana, we tried to
figure out, if there is some kind of fieldwork involved in new study programmes of primary school
teacher programme.
We tried to figure out:
By which subject fieldwork is possible way of teaching.
What are advantages and disadvantages of fieldwork?
H1: Fieldwork is more frequent by subjects that already require work, study in nature.
H2: Problems (disadvantages) of fieldwork are result of large group of students, high costs and of
H3: Advantages of fieldwork are better student’s knowledge and better relationships between students.
14 professors were included in sample. They teach 34 different subjects of 8 different areas (Natural
science, Social science, Literature, Music, Physical Education, Creative Movement and Puppets,
Educational psychology and Children with special needs).
Questionnaire was created for this research that includes three different parts:
Execution of educational process outdoor,
Advantages of educational process that is held outdoor,
Disadvantages of educational process that is held outdoor.
Data analysis
Basic statistical methods were used (frequency and percentage).
Results and discussion
Professors who participated in research teach 34 different subjects of 8 different areas (Natural
science, Social science, Literature, Music, Physical Education, Creative Movement and Puppets,
Educational psychology and Children with special needs).
Part of educational process was carried out of faculty in 26 cases (76.5%). The result is extremely high
but we must know that included subjects are from areas where working only in classrooms is not
enough. At the same time we should know that questionnaire was returned mostly from professors
who already carry out part of educational process outdoor. Subjects that were never taught outdoor
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are: Educational psychology, Didactic of technical education, Didactic of literature and Children with
special needs.
Table 1: Parts of educational process that are done out of faculty
Parts of educational process
Part of experimental work
Part of seminary work
Part of lectures
Experimental work is part of educational process which is most often done out of faculty. The answer
is expected because experimental work goes on in smaller group (up to 18 students). Participation on
experimental work is also obligatory for students. So it is much easier to organise something different
in educational process during experimental work than during lectures for instance. We also think that
professors sometimes do not know how to organise lectures or seminaries out of classrooms. And it is
even possible that they think that educational process which goes on out of faculty is not suitable for
their subject.
Table 2: Where does educational process go on?
Where does educational process go on? yes no
Out of Ljubljana for few days
In Ljubljana for one day
Near the faculty
Answers in section “Other” were:
Visiting different cultural institutions.
Excursions that last one day and go on in Slovenia, Austria and Italy.
Visiting Puppet’s theatre, Ljubljana Festival in Mini Theatre.
Fieldwork which last few days is connected with subjects from natural sciences and from sport. Most
common kind of educational process that goes on out of faculty is experimental work and by Didactic
of sport there are also seminars that take part out of faculty, in nature. Fieldwork that goes on in
Ljubljana and lasts one day is often connected with visiting different institutions. It is very frequent by
social sciences like history and geography. Near the faculty is so called “outdoor classroom” with
pond so part of the biological contents can be carry out near the faculty.
Table 3: Part of educational process that goes on out of faculty
Part of educational process
Up to 5% hours
6 – 10% hours
above 11% hours
No of answers
It was expected that part of the educational process which goes on out of faculty will be low. Only
subjects of sport and social sciences have higher percentage of all hours that are carrying out of
faculty which was also expected. Contents of Didactic of sport, History and Geography demand that
part of educational process is performed outside (for instance skiing, swimming, visiting different
places, museums...).
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Table 4: Reasons for execution of fieldwork
Students need different ways of learning
Contents of a subject are appropriate for fieldwork
I can establish different, better relationship with students
Fieldwork give variety to traditional way of teaching
I want to try different kinds of teaching
Students get different knowledge
No of answers
Answers in section “Other” were:
‐ Some contents cannot be interceding so well in classroom as they can be in nature (out of
‐ There are only few students who spend enough time in nature.
‐ Students can get different, better experiences in professional environment.
‐ Students can really see, hear, smell and try what we are talking about.
‐ Professor is model for students.
Professors are aware of importance of fieldwork (especially experiential learning). They are also
aware of other components of educational process (like socialisation) which are not often the case
with university level of teaching, but they are also extremely important part of quality teaching and
learning. But there is often a problem of professors’ fear of students that discourage professors from
fieldwork. They often think they will lose authority if they come to close to student. That is not true,
on the contrary students respect professors who know their names, who know how to laugh with them,
who is accessible for students’ questions and answers and who is able to say that he/she does not
know everything.
Table 5: Problems at realisation of fieldwork
Problems at realisation of fieldwork
Problems at organisations (I am alone for everything)
Increased risk for injuries
I do not have problems
Groups of students are too large
Students’ attention is too small
No of answers
Answers in section “Other” were:
Extra time and work that is necessary for qualitative fieldwork are not adequately evaluated
and are often underestimated.
I often have problems with weather conditions (rain for example).
Unforeseen circumstances (breakdown of a bus).
Inappropriate timetable.
Students have to use their own cars – problem of safety.
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Major part of the problems stressed by professors is organisational. As professors said fieldwork is not
adequately evaluated and this is one of the reasons why professor has to organise everything by
him/herself. He/she has to prepare and carry out all programs, makes a bus reservation and makes a
hotel reservation and so on. Study program ought to be free from charge but students have to pay a fee
for fieldwork. So professor often try to find cheaper way of fieldwork. That is why students often
come to fieldwork on their own (by cars) which is definitely less safe than by bus. That is why some
professors still do not like fieldwork because question of the safety is always on the first place. A lot
of professors also do not know norms for number of students when they work out of faculty, so it is
not unusual to see 50 students with only one professor on excursion somewhere abroad.
Professors also try to find some less expensive ways for living during fieldwork and one of the
possibilities is living in “Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti”. But that also mean fieldwork has to
be carried out during weekends and sometimes even during feast days.
There are a lot of similarities with other’s researches results (Kolenc Kolnik, 2005) so results were
Table 6: Reasons for no-implementation of fieldwork
No of answers
Contents of subject are not suitable for fieldwork 2
Answers in section “Other” were:
There are not enough hours for educational process out of classroom.
Regulations of University.
Professors who gave answers were professors who never go out of classrooms. Belief of professors
that contents of their subject do not allow fieldwork is mainly results of lack of knowledge and ideas
how to transfer educational process out of classrooms. Almost all contents are proper for fieldwork
and next example show us that this is true: By subject Educational psychology student had task to
remember and reproduce one story to next student. We gave them exactly the same task by the subject
Didactic of physical education when we had fieldwork and we had social evening. Results were much
better in the second case, when we were in nature, so students were more relaxed and they
remembered more than in classroom.
There are never enough hours for educational process let alone for fieldwork, if professor wants to tell
students everything he knows. He has to make reduction of all contents and demands from students to
study at home – by themselves. Hours for educational process he could destine for teaching more
difficult contents and for fieldwork. It is really necessary for professors to know that is not important
how much contents they directly transfer to students. What is important is what kind of teaching
methods they use. One of the most important advantages of fieldwork and work in nature is higher
emotional involvement, much more unassisted learning and as a result better student’s knowledge.
Table 7: Is there any possibility for professors who never practice fieldwork to try different kind of
Professors’ answers
That kind of work is absolutely not suitable for my subject
Only if students want different kind of work
No of answers
Answers of four professors who never do fieldwork show that they also never think about different
ways of teaching or using nature as classroom for their subject. Initiative of students is very rare in
Slovenian university area. It is frequent by “up-to-date” professors who encourage students to ask
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questions, to discuss, who allow them to make mistakes, who believe in them and who let them know
that he is only a human. Answer (in section “Other) that professor would teach out of classroom if he
figure out that such kind of work can refine educational process shows us that professors do not have
enough knowledge about different ways of teaching. Every changing in teaching and learning let alone
changing of place for educational process has positive effects on educational process.
Results show that we can confirm the first hypothesis. Fieldwork is very frequent way of teaching
only by subjects where it is almost necessary (natural and social sciences, sport). Organisation and
costs cause most of the problems at fieldwork and that is why we cannot accept the second hypothesis.
We also cannot accept the third hypothesis because professors said the most important advantage of
fieldwork is that students need different kind or educational process.
Sample of participants were very small so we cannot generalize the results but the fact is that
fieldwork is used less than we expected. Nature as a classroom is used only by subject from natural
science and from sport area, despite every subject could be carry out in nature. In new study program
for primary school teacher only 22 hours (0.7%) of all hours are intended for fieldwork (natural
sciences, social sciences, sport). Fieldwork is also mention by music, but only by sport there will also
be seminary works too (not only experimental work) that will take place in nature.
Advantages of educational process in nature are gathered in sentences of students who (by subject
Didactic of physical education) did seminary work in nature. One of the most frequent advantages was
possibility of discussion because there was no time limit (timetable was not rigid and we could adapt it
to their interests, wishes and needs). They also said that seminary work out of faculty, in nature was
“superb”; their motivation was extremely high while the atmosphere was relaxed and very working at
the same time. In particular they like activities in nature, easiness of professor and seminars carried
out in nature. They also wished more time for such kind of activities and more activities at all
(Štemberger, 2004).
Bečaj, J. (2001). Šolska avtonomija kot proces. V: Döbert, H, Geißler, G.: Šolska avtonomija v
Evropi. Ljubljana: Družina. Celje: Mohorjeva družba. Str. 67 – 89.
Cvetek, S. (1993). Visokošolski kurikulum: strategije načrtovanja, izvedbe in evalvacije študijskih
programov. Maribor: Dialog.
Gibss, G. (1992). Improving the quality of student learning : based on the improving student learning
project funded by the Council for National Academic Awards: Bristol: Technical and
Education Services.
Goleman, D. (2010). Čustvena inteligenca: zakaj je lahko pomembnejša od IQ. Ljubljana: Mladinska
Hurtig, E. (2002). The Nature School and Outdoor Days. Outdoor Pedagogics and Practice.
Kolenc Kolnik, K. (2005). Didaktična vrednot učenja v naravi – primer geografija. V Didaktika v šoli
v naravi. Zbornik drugega strokovnega posveta Didaktika v šoli v naravi. Tolmin, 3. – 5. 11.
2005. Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti, Ljubljana. Str. 9 – 19.
Mencinger Vračko, B. (2005). Priprava bodočih učiteljev biologije na terensko delo z učenci. V
Didaktika v šoli v naravi. Zbornik drugega strokovnega posveta Didaktika v šoli v naravi.
Tolmin, 3. – 5. 11. 2005. Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti, Ljubljana. Str. 118 – 122
Puklek Levpušček, M. (2006). Osnove visokošolske didaktike – Skupinsko delo s študenti. Center za
pedagoško izobraževanje Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani.
Šteblaj, M., Gostinčar Blagotinšek, A., Razpet, N., Čepič, M. (2005). Ali lahko aktivnosti ob vodi
prebudijo bodočega naravoslovca? . V Didaktika v šoli v naravi. Zbornik drugega
strokovnega posveta Didaktika v šoli v naravi. Tolmin, 3. – 5. 11. 2005. Center šolskih in
obšolskih dejavnosti, Ljubljana. Str. 123 – 129
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Štemberger, V. (2004). Uporaba doživljajske pedagogike pri didaktiki športne vzgoje. V Didaktika v
šoli v naravi. Zbornik prvega strokovnega posveta Didaktika v šoli v naravi. Tolmin, 4. – 6.
11. 2004. Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti, Ljubljana. Str. 272 – 278.
Vesna Štemberger was born in 1969 in Ljubljana. In 1999 she made her MSc and in 2003 she defended PhD. Main topic of
her research work is quality in physical education. She has been working at the Faculty of Education since 1992. She was
member of the group for evaluation of physical education, of the group for detecting and working with overweight children
and of the group for researching children’s lifestyle in Slovenia. She has been a mentor for more than 150 students at theirs
diploma thesis. At the moment she is head of department for Elementary school teacher at the Faculty of Education in
Ljubljana, president of the programme board of the Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti, member of the program
committee at the Zavod za šport RS Planica and member of the ski-jumping committee by the Slovenian Ski Association.
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Tsunami on the Baltic Sea –
How to Get the Knowledge about One’s Own Region
Dr Zbigniew Głąbiński
University of Szczecin, Department of Tourism, Faculty of Geosciences, Poland
[email protected]
The Pomeranian Region among other regions in Poland stands out thanks to its clearly determined
natural boarders. They are outlined by the Odra river to the west, the Noteć and Warta rivers to the
south, the Vistula river to the east and the coastline of the Baltic Sea to the north. However, the whole
region is integrated into the territory of our country in a highly natural way.
The tumultuous history of the Pomeranian Region caused its division into two parts – the Eastern and
the Western Pomerania – which took place as far as in the Middle Ages. The history of both parts had
been taking its own course of action until the end of the World War II. The West Pomeranian is an
exceptional region in contemporary Poland, mainly due to its material heritage which is an output and
achievement of numerous communities inhabiting that region for centuries. Tracks of their presence
were left here by Pomeranian people, Vikings, Kashubians, Swedes, and finally, to a large extent, by
our western neighbours – the German.
According to the opinions of sociologists, inhabitants of the West Pomeranian Voivodship show a low
attachment to their ‘small homeland’11. Contemporary dwellers of that area, however, are trying to
search for the regional identity. One of the best ways to build the bound with the region is getting the
knowledge about its natural and cultural values and doing it by the means of sightseeing tourism, as in
accordance with a well-known sociologist professor K. Przecławski:
‘Tourism means travelling and meeting with nature, culture and people.’ 12
The tool to accomplish these demands are school trips and classes held in the field. According to a
familiar for many years opinion of Wincent Okoń, approximately 30% of school curriculum should be
taught in the field. Unfortunately, that idea can’t have been introduced for many years.
Mr Okoń defines school trips as 13:
‘Forms of teaching and educational work, which in a direct contact let students acquire
knowledge about their local environment, own region, homeland, or other countries with their
geographical, historical, ethnical, cultural or economic characteristics.’
Knowledge achieved in the closest environment should be rational, so as it would be easy to get it
extended and broadened during next trips or field activities. The way to get such type of knowledge apart from experiencing – is the act of observation. According to Świtalski’s opinion 14:
Leoński J. 2003. Kilka socjologicznych uwag o świadomości regionalnej mieszkańców Pomorza
Zachodniego. w: Integracja i tożsamość. Zachodniopomorskie w przededniu rozszerzenia Unii Europejskiej.
Materiały I Kongresu Zachodniopomorskiego. s. 255-260
Przecławski K. 2006. Społeczny wymiar turystyki. w: Gremium ekspertów turystyki. Turystyka w ujęciu
podmiotowym i przestrzennym. G. Gołembski (red.). Wydawnictwo Akademii Ekonomicznej w Poznaniu. s. 21
Denek K. 1985. Poradnik dla organizatorów wycieczek szkolnych. Wydawnictwo PTTK „Kraj”. Warszawa. s.
Świtalski E. 1985. Szkolne koła geograficzne i turystyczno-krajoznawcze. WSiP. Warszawa. s. 8
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‘Observation is a method of scientific research (on the school level), which aim is to notice facts
in a well-planned and systematic way, in order to determine the quality and quantity of the
examined facts, phenomena, processes.’
School trips are a perfect tool to accomplish the idea of environmental education understood as ‘a
long-lasting process of developing skills and behaviours needed to understand and accept
mutual relations between the human and their culture and natural environment.15’
Thanks to environmental education the way of perception alters, and so called popular knowledge
changes into the scientific one. The result of these processes is the change in human’s attitude towards
their surrounding environment. That phenomenon caused by the natural environment education has
definitely a positive influence on developing the feeling of ‘a place attachment’. It is the first step on
the way to build identity, firstly the local and then the regional one. However, the main role in this
process has the teacher, as it is they who choose the place to conduct the lesson. It should be the
closest area to start with, then the region.
Among numerous social functions of sightseeing, there are two basic functions one should pay
attention to16:
1/ educational function – understood as the set of all influences and effects shaping human’s
development and preparing them to live in the society,
2/ training function – that is getting a sense of direction in the surrounding natural and social realities,
mainly of one’s own country, region and the place of living.
Opinions quoted on the role of tourism and sightseeing in a contemporary school enjoy a widespread
agreement. Tourism and sightseeing are assumed as extremely important and valuable ingredients of
the educational system. In that situation one should strive to disseminate these forms of education and
training. Despite these indisputable opinions, tourism and sightseeing face a number of obstructions
which make it impossible to accomplish these highly correct ideas.
Among the most important ones we should enumerate:
imperfections of the legal articles, which arouse a lot of controversy in their interpretation,
lack of enough factual preparation to conduct classes in the field among a considerable
number of teachers,
relatively high costs of participation in sightseeing trips,
insufficient way of promoting tourist assets in many Polish regions including the West
Pomeranian Voivodship.
Unfortunately, the results of researches done in schools of the West Pomeranian Voivodship confirm
that students have highly unsatisfactory knowledge about the region they live in17. There are a lot of
causes of that occurrence. One of the most important ones is an insufficient way to promote the
regional tourist assets and resources and an incorrect method to adapt transmitting information. Both
Grodzińska - Jurczak M. 2000. Edukacja środowiskowa - historia powstania i rozwój. Wszechświat. T.101 nr
10-12. s. 258
Gaworecki W. 2007. Turystyka. Polskie Wydawnictwo Ekonomiczne. Warszawa. s. 27
Głąbiński Z. 2008. Szkolny ruch turystyczno-krajoznawczy jako czynnik kształtowania tożsamości
regionalnej. Forum Turystyki Regionów. Szczecin.
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of them fail to meet the contemporary needs. The reason of that situation is caused by the fact that the
teaching staff is not well prepared to conduct various forms of sightseeing tourism in the region18.
Due to that reason, a team consisting of geologists, geographers, art historians and professional
excursionists decided to undertake the project called ‘The adventure with tourism – training teachers
in the field of environmental education as a factor leading to affecting environmental awareness and
regional identity in the West Pomeranian Voivodship.’ The above actions were conducted under the
auspices of the Regional Tourism Forum with the cooperation of the Department of Tourism (the
University of Szczecin), as a part of the Human Capital Operational Programme in years 2008-2009.
The aims of that project were as following:
1. An increase of teachers’ awareness in the matters of not only how important tourist and
landscaping assets in the West Pomeranian Voivodship are, but also in all the regulations of
formal, legal, organisational and institutional requirements concerning school tourism and
sightseeing movement.
2. Raising the effectiveness of environmental education classes by introducing various
interactive forms of teaching, including marking out trip routes and delineating areas to teach
field classes, which make the maximum usage of the tourist and sightseeing potential of the
region, and as a consequence make it possible to gain broader knowledge about one’s own
‘small homeland’.
3. Increasing teachers’ factual and organizational qualifications in the area of conducting field
classes in environmental education.
Altogether 354 teachers from the whole area of the West Pomeranian Voivodship were
trained. Trainings, which took place in the field, were supposed to present basic theory, but above all,
introduce practical methods of how to teach field classes, as well as how to organize tourist and
sightseeing events for children and the youth. Moreover, the aim of the training was getting the
knowledge in an empirical way, and then presenting the possibilities in which one could use the
potential of tourism and sightseeing of the West Pomeranian Voivodship in environmental education.
In order to do that trainees under specialists’ tutelage:
were collecting and denoting rocks and minerals,
were collecting and recognising shells from the Baltic beaches,
were analysing fossils personally collected in Czarnogłowy, Dziwnówek, Storkowo
and Kołacz
were measuring efficiency of springs with a marked vessel,
were measuring the circumferences of erratic boulders, such as the ‘Trygław’ in
Tychowo, which the biggest one in Poland,
were measuring breast height diameters of tree trunks in parks and forests in
Przelewice, Glinna, Połczyn, Kołobrzeg,
were trying to read inscriptions on tombstones in churches,
were describing chosen architectural details of historic buildings,
were recognising the species of tress and bushes with the help of a special key to
denote plants,
were analysing landscapes from the beauty spots on Wola and Spyczna Mountains in
the area of the Drawski Landscapel Park, the lighthouse in Niechorze, the hill nearby
Domacyno, Chełmska Mountain in Koszalin, the sightseeing tower in Cedynia and
Ibidem s.
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All the activities were done by the easiest tools available in every school or possible to be bought even
in a small country shop (a measuring tape, a bricklaying hammer, marked kitchen dishes, plastic bags,
paper, a pencil). Collected in the field specimens and materials were classified and marked by the
trainees with the idea to build school collections. During the training course in the field conditions
teachers learned about techniques and types of classes which involving participants allow to
understand all the processes and phenomena taking place in nature and human activity.
It was especially important to make the right choice of tutors who would guarantee having a perfect
skill to present and explain to other people these often complicated natural phenomena. The team
responsible for the field classes always included two representatives of two different scientific
disciplines. It was i.e. an archaeologist and a geologist or a geographer and an art historian. This way
of giving training classes paid attention to the necessity of holistic way to capture and present the
surrounding reality. It was a practical carrying out of the natural environment education amicable with
its definition.
Graph 1.
Tutors factual preparation and the way of conducting the training
(marking scale 1- 5)
Source: own analysis based on the questionnaire results
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Graph 2.
Duration and a course curriculum assessment
Too long/overloaded
Duration of the training course Too short/vague
Curriculum Source: own analysis based on the questionnaire results
The training made use of the latest results of researches done in the Westpomeranian region,
researches concerning geological science, geographical, archaeological and history of art ones. The
research results mentioned above were often published in specialist literature with a low edition of
copies, and usually were unavailable to a wider group of readers. The research results gave the
participants of our training course knowledge about extremely interesting facts and ways of natural
phenomena interpretations. The success of achievement of all the goals set was the proper duration of
the training (24h during one weekend) as well as its concerning the substance curriculum (Graph 2).
Information acquired by the participants, popularized and made available to inhabitants and tourists
may became new tourist attractions in the near future. Moreover, with the time being, they may
contribute to a raising sense of pride of living in an interesting and engaging region. Due to that fact
two publications – ‘The guide for the inquisitive’19 and ‘Teachers methodological handbook’20 were
prepared. They were published under one title ‘Secrets of the Westpomeranian landscapes’.
The books were assessed as highly useful to the further work with the youth by the
participants of our training course. One should hope that these teachers will be able to make use of the
knowledge and acquired during the course skills in their further work.
Tajemnice krajobrazów Pomorza Zachodniego – przewodnik dla dociekliwych. 2009. Z. Głąbiński (red.).
Forum Turystyki Regionów. Szczecin.
Tajemnice krajobrazów Pomorza Zachodniego – poradnik metodyczny dla nauczycieli. 2009. Głąbiński Z.,
Kamieniecka W. Forum Turystyki Regionów. Szczecin.
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Graph 3.
To what extend did you broaden your knowledge and skills as far as the
training course issues are concerned?
58,3 %
very good
Source: own analysis based on the questionnaire results
One of the examples of an unusual and almost unknown fact, which the participants of the training
course had the chance to learn about, and which can turn into a tourist attraction, is the tsunami which
appeared in the area of Darłowo on 16th September 1497.
In the chronicles and of course the sightseeing and tourism literature that fact was written down and
described, but no sooner than in the modern times it was explained. Earlier it was only stated that a
huge storm and flood took place on that day. However, no trial of explaining the reasons of that
catastrophic incident was tackled. According to A. Piotrowski from the National Institute of Geology
in Szczecin, the wave of that tsunami was caused by an explosion of methane which was accumulated
in rocks building the Baltic Sea bed. The explosion happened as the result of a small earthquake in the
area of Werner Lake in Sweden. The earthquake was not a strong one and had only 4.5 degrees in the
Richter scale and was too weak to cause directly a tsunami wave. Marks, such as craters, left after the
methane explosion and are still found on the Baltic Sea bed.
The results of the tsunami were catastrophic. They caused not only a lot of damage to buildings and
port devices, but also moving back of the coast, lifting four ships and leaving them far away from the
coast. As the chronicle notes say, one of the ships was left on the hill, at the height of 20 metres above
the sea level, where the Chapel of St. Gertrude in Darłowo is found today.
Uniqueness of that historical fact and the explanation of the tsunami phenomenon may turn out to be a
great chance to create a new tourist attraction by the local authorities. The easiest way would be
preparing a multimedia presentation and an exhibition in the Pomeranian Dukes Castle in Dałowo. A
simulator or a multimedia room called ‘the time machine’ could allow visitors to turn back into the
times of the medieval age and experience that catastrophic phenomenon. If such an attraction was
accompanied by a factually solid and interesting exhibition, it would be definitely more than just a
regional attraction.
There are a lot of such facts and phenomena on the territory of the West Pomeranian Voivodship.
Presented in an interesting way they could cause a raise in a territory awareness of inhabitants, who
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often not knowing about the assets of one’s own area, treat their ‘small homeland’ with disrespect and
embarrassment. Interesting facts and figures could also be an alternative to not enough sophisticated
forms of commercialized entertainment, which are common in tourist towns of the Western
Pomeranian Region.
Zbigniew Głąbiński is a Lecturer on Department of Tourism, Faculty of Earth Sciences University of Szczecin and Manager
at „Globtour” Travel and Tourism Bureau in Szczecin. He’s been also Teaching Assistant on Faculty of Geography and
Geology on Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.
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Intercultural Learning with Outdoor Training and Experiential Learning
under the perspective of culturally divergent concepts of nature
M.Sc. Susanne Lesk and Markus Gutmann
University of Vienna, IOA® Master of Science class "Training and Development"
[email protected]
This paper examines possible impacts of culturally divergent concepts of nature on intercultural
learning situations conducted in an outdoor setting. It further investigates the relationship of the terms
‘nature’ and ‘culture’ and draws attention to the social constructionist approach of defining nature as
a social and cultural phenomenon. Different concepts of nature have diverse implications for
behavior. If concepts of nature are socially constructed and culturally bound, culture can be said to
influence a person’s relationship and attitude towards nature. Of course nature plays a major role in
outdoor training interventions, because the action usually takes place in “natural” environment. This
paper argues that specific approaches to nature can also be used for enhancing intercultural learning
processes of persons and groups, as nature can be used for learning purposes that emphasize
analogue elements of communication that are especially apt for intercultural dialogue.
Culture and nature
Among the numerous definitions of culture for the purpose of this paper we chose an approach from
cultural anthropology and sociology. We define culture as collectively shared systems of meaning
within a society, including common basic assumptions, values, norms, behavioral patterns and
experiences. These sets of beliefs and traditions are socially constructed and therefore subject to
intervention from and interpretation of different powerful actors like organizations, and political
institutions. Important stakeholders decide and legitimate which values are relevant and which
behavioral patterns are widely used in a society. (Berger/Luckmann 1967, pp. 124; Eriksen 2010, pp.
3; Humberstone et al. 2008, pp. 193)
Cultural anthropology is primarily involved in studying similarities between cultures as well as
cultural differences. There are generally accepted commonalities within humanity that differentiate
human beings from animals (like the structure of the human mind or the concept of kinship). In
addition many culture bound values and practices have been observed and investigated by
anthropologists (Eriksen 2010, 5). Both aspects are also important to intercultural learning situations,
as we will see below.
The relationship between culture and nature is often described as nature being the opposite of culture.
Culture refers to human practices, cognitions and interpretations. It is often associated with a process
of transformation of originally natural resources, which are converted into cultural artefacts. The
natural environment is subject to exploitation and in many places endangered. When ecologist
movements try to reinstall natural environments, where cultural processes of transformation have
already destroyed the original landscape, it becomes a matter of interest to cultural processes again
(Gerndt 2002, pp. 126). At the same time nature often is seen as being something dangerous,
threatening humanity, provoking death and destroying cultural achievements: Earthquakes,
avalanches, sea waves, volcanoes threaten human populations in many parts of the world (Gerndt
2002, pp. 139). Therefore one can say that “culture is intrinsically connected with nature” (Eriksen
2010, 51).
Nevertheless this conception of relationship between nature and culture does not include all possible
aspects. Actually, we assume that the conception of nature itself is socially constructed and therefore
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culture-bound. What is felt as natural is different according to various times and places. Even within
societies there are diverse concepts of nature. This is true for the inner as well as for the outer nature
(Schörghuber 1999, 30; Eriksen 2010, 50; Gerndt 2002, 135).
The inner nature refers to the human body. The physical condition of a person, like sickness or
masculinity/femininity, is always associated with social roles. Being a man, woman or sick person is,
for example mediated by culture. If we talk about men and women in different cultures, we talk
automatically about their social roles conditioned by cultural beliefs, symbols and traditions (Turner
1984, pp. 58).The body as a metaphor of the social system explains a variety of cultural patterns
(Turner 1995, 5).
Berger and Luckmann describe the dialectic process between (inner) nature and society as a process of
permanent coexistence and ongoing mutual influence, conditioning human behavior (dealing with
issues like sexuality, feelings of hunger or thirst etc.). “Man is biologically predestined to construct
and to inhabit a world with others. This world becomes for him the dominant and definite reality. Its
limits are set by nature, but, once constructed, this world acts back upon nature. In the dialectic
between nature and the socially constructed world the human organism itself is transformed. In this
same dialectic man produces reality and thereby produces himself.” (Berger/Luckmann 1967, 204)
The same is true for the social construction of the outer or external nature, the natural environment.
Concepts of nature are describing individual and collective realities. The perception of nature and
knowledge about it is part of the creative process of the individual (Schörghuber 1999, 33). The
individual’s notion of nature is always influenced by its prior experiences in the socio-cultural world,
it is a result of the individual’s process of socialization. Nature as a concept is an act of invention on
the individual level as well as on the collective level. Consequently different concepts of nature exist
in the world, they are subject to change, embedded in history and cultural contexts (Eriksen 2010, pp.
64; Gerndt 2002, pp. 194). Eder describes, for example in detail the European concept of and
relationship to nature, which according to him is clearly socially constructed and in addition, the social
construction is discussed as construction as well in Western approaches (Eder 2002, pp. 31).
To summarize the relationship between nature and culture, there are two remarkable ways in
approaching this topic. “Nature thus exists both as cultural representation of nature and as something
outside of culture and society, yet influencing the ways in which humans live. As a biological species,
we take part in ecosystems and modify them; as cultural beings, we develop concepts about our
environment and place ourselves outside it.” (Eriksen 2010, 52) In the second case the relationship of
human beings to nature is seen as a cultural-bound construction. Making sense out of nature and the
decision about what is seen as natural and what not, is part of a cultural process (Schörghuber 1996,
108; Humberstone 1998, pp. 381 and 2000, 22).
Culture and society
For the purpose of this paper we assume that persons always “enter” nature as holistic creatures with
their bodies, souls and minds and with their social as well as cultural backgrounds. In this section the
concepts of society and culture are briefly discussed, as they both play a major role for our topic.
In sociology as well as in anthropology attempts have been made to find clear distinctions between the
terms culture and society. Primarily for analytical reasons this seems to be a legitimate concern.
Kroeber and Parsons (1958) define culture as the “transmitted and created content and patterns of
values, ideas, and other symbolic-meaningful systems as factors in the shaping of human behavior and
the artifacts produced through behavior”.
Eriksen describes the linkage between culture and society in a very similar way: “Culture refers to the
acquired, cognitive and symbolic aspects of existence, whereas society refers to the social
organization of human life, patterns of interaction and power relationships” (Eriksen 2010, 4).
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Nevertheless the two systems culture and society are related and it makes sense to investigate social
and cultural aspects from the same object or subject of research (Kroeber and Parsons 1958, 583).
Especially from a social constructionist approach we assume that cultural phenomena are created as
symbolic universes. If there existed alternative forms of conceptualizations, the ultimate success and
permanent institutionalization of one symbolic universe would depend upon its legitimation, which is
directly influenced by the power of the actors behind (Berger/Luckmann 1967, 116f.). This is also true
for the social construction of the inner and outer nature. Consequently the exploitation of human
bodies on the one hand and the subjugation of the external environment on the other hand cannot be
seriously discussed without linking cultural and societal aspects in the same study.
Intercultural learning
In times of globalization intercultural learning situations are becoming more and more important. In
universities the institutionalization of exchange programs enhances intercultural contacts between
students and offers multiple learning opportunities for them. Intercultural learning situations are also
part of everyday life in schools, when teachers work in classes with pupils that have different cultural
backgrounds. In social work and therapy young people with different cultural backgrounds and
socialization live together in youth welfare institutions and meet in organizations like youth centres,
where intercultural dialogue, contact and conflict take place. Additionally, intercultural settings can be
found in multinational organizations, e.g. in virtual teams, which need to work together over a certain
period of time.
In contrast to transcultural (focus on similarities) and multicultural (focus on differences), in our
context, the term intercultural refers not only to the work on cultural similarities and differences
between cultures, but concentrates on interferences and interdependencies as well as on the mutual
interfusion of limits and contacts (Demorgon/Kordes 2006, pp. 33).
If increased intercultural contact and possible coping strategies for individuals and groups are the
explicit purpose of a training situation, it is common to refer to Kolb’s (1975) experiential learning
theory that is also applicable when talking about different ways how to learn about another culture
(Paige 2004, 112). Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory distinguishes four major learning styles: concrete
experience, abstract conceptualization, active experimentation and reflective observation (Kolb/Fry
1975). In literature on intercultural training, instruments used are categorized according to their
dominating learning styles. Concrete experience and active experimentation play an important role
when classifying the crucial learning style of each instrument (Fowler/Blohm 2004, 79).
It is quite obvious that the combination of elements of experiential learning theory and the concept of
learning according to the concept of “Integrative Outdoor-Aktivitäten®” is feasible. Both concepts use
relevant experiences as basic input to induce learning processes. The concept of IOA® with its
systemic-constructionist approach offers learning situations to persons and groups, where they can
gain new meaningful experiences, which are integrated afterwards into the individual’s existing body
of knowledge and experiences. (Experiential) learning then means the construction of new realities.
This is only possible when experiences are transferred to the conscious level and reflected in an
appropriate way (Pfingstner 2005, pp. 51). Experiences in an outdoor setting always activate different
levels of learning: cognitive, social, physical and emotional learning effects are likely to happen.
When working on the different concepts of inner and outer nature, it’s necessary to induce those
relevant experiences in relation to nature. Concerning the inner (human) nature, thus the human body,
this seems quite easy to achieve through different tasks and exercises. But also the relationship to the
natural environment can be treated equally in the training situation, so that an expansion of the
person’s relationship to nature can be attained.
To use outdoor focused interventions for intercultural learning purposes seems quite reasonable, since
experiential learning theory has already entered the field long time ago. Especially in multinational
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companies at least teambuilding measures as start-up exercise are recommended when implementing
virtual teams to reduce conflict due to different cultural backgrounds. (Zigurs 2003, 348). The same is
true for other fields of application as mentioned above.
Concepts of nature and implication for behavior
Men and women create their concepts of nature according to their cultural and social background and
derive normative standards for behavior from these concepts. The social construction of body for
example leads to certain implications for behavior (Gerndt 2002, 125).
On the individual level body modification strategies can be cited as one example of cultural
transformation of the (inner) nature. They are one possibility to get control over the former “natural”
body. It refers to all kinds of practices like piercing, tattooing, branding, cutting, fasting, exercise,
cosmetic and fashion regimes (Featherstone 2000, 1). The decision how to transform the human body
is not always made by the person concerned, but it is often influenced by cultural standards that are
applied and may represent societal power relations. This is true for clothing rules in different religions
or for tattooing or piercing practices in traditional and some modern cultures, where body
modifications often mark a transition. These kind of body marks can be collectively, visibly and
permanently worn and they mean a culturally induced behavior changing the inner nature (the human
body) (Turner 2000, 39).
On the level of organizations we follow Schein (2004, pp. 26 and 1988, 9a), who states that cultures
are divergent in their basic assumptions concerning for example their relationships to the external
environment or their assumptions about human nature, activity and relationships. He considers basic
assumptions as taken-for-granted beliefs and perceptions, which often influence a group’s behavior on
an unconscious level. Collectively shared basic assumptions are difficult to change and they reproduce
similar behavior that is acceptable and excludes more or less successful deviant behavior. The concept
of basic assumptions as taken-for-granted ideas and feelings seems to be compatible with the concept
of implicit cultural patterns which according to Kroeber and Parsons (1958, pp. 98) refer to the more
unconscious part of a culture, that shapes human behavior.
Schein (2004, pp. 175), discusses the human relationship to nature, when elaborating different possible
assumptions about appropriate human activity. Actually he talks about organizational/environmental
relations, when arguing that “In every organization there will evolve a deeply held view of whether (1)
nature, the perceived total environment, can be subjugated and controlled (the Western tradition), or
(2) nature must be harmonized with (the assumptions of many Asian religions and societies), or (3)
one must subjugate oneself to nature (the assumption of some Southeast Asian religions and
societies).” (Schein, 2004, 177)
Quite similar are the results of Trompenaar’s study that are worth being mentioned here. He identifies
several important dimensions of culture, like orientations towards time, feelings and relationships and
the relationship towards (outer) nature, which might affect conduct in organizations. “Orientations to
nature have much to do with how we conduct our day-to-day lives and manage business.”
(Trompenaars 1993, 144)
The orientations towards nature according to Trompenaars can be inner-directed. In this case people
belief that it is possible to control nature and that societies should try to dominate the environment to
ensure economic development. In this view organizations are seen as machines, which can be
manipulated. Persons usually have an internal locus of control. They are convinced that they can
control their environment and that they are the captains of their fate. Success is perceived as having
control over external forces like the customer, the market or new technologies (Trompenaars 1993,
pp. 137).
In cultures that are outer-directed in their relationship to nature, people have an external locus of
control. Survival means acting with instead of against nature and hence economic success means
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effective adaption to external influences. It cannot be decided generally which strategy is best. “Outerdirected need not mean God-directed or fate-directed; it may mean directed by the knowledge
revolution or by the looming pollution crises, or by a joint venture partner. The ideal is to fit yourself
advantageously to an external force.” (Trompenaars 1993, 141)
Trompenaars mentions a third view of nature which he calls the cybernetic nature, where we can
observe a reconciliation of internal and external control. “There is a shift from trying to seize control
over nature to identifying with its ecological self-regulation and natural balance. The manager
intervenes but is not the cause of what occurs; the systems of organizations and markets have their
own momentum which we can influence but not drive.” (Trompenaars 1993, 144)
There are implications for behavior in organizations when managing or being managed in internaland external-oriented cultures. For example conflict management (open discussion versus receiving
enough time to quietly work through conflicts), management styles (management by objectives versus
management by environments, that is permanent adaption to fit external demands perfectly), and
leadership style (task-orientated versus person-orientated) are supposed to take shape differently
(Trompenaars 1993, pp. 150).
Implications for behavior can also be found on a societal level. As we have seen above, the process of
social construction is always subject to unequal power relations. What kind of human behavior is
possible in a society, depends on the results of different social construction processes. This view
corresponds to current discourses about links between nature and gender in Western systems of
thought. The relationship of men and women as well as of culture and nature is often compared with
each other. Anthropologists found out that “in many societies, women are seen as being closer to
nature than men, who are considered more cultivated than woman” (Eriksen 2010, 139). It is argued
that biological reasons and cultural roles adopted by women induce such a line of thought. These
observations also entered into the ecofeminist discourse combining feminist and ecological
approaches. According to Humberstone (1998, 384) there is a double domination of women and
nature. Both are devalued compared either with men and culture respectively. Their exploitation
cannot be explained without recurring to the unequal power relations existing in contemporary
societies and thus to the social construction of reality, that also could be modified: “Femininity and
masculinity are often viewed as immutable and natural arrangements. Although biological sex is
usually fixed, masculinity and femininity are constructs of a particular culture or society and may
therefore be open to change” (Humberstone/Clayton 2007, 230).
Implications for outdoor training concepts
In outdoor training and experiential learning settings, nature plays a fundamental role. There are
different assumptions about effects of nature in practical pedagogical, psychological and therapeutic
work, like nature and its healing effects or nature as an obstacle (Schörghuber 1999, pp. 38). If nature
is seen as an individual and socio-cultural construction, this has several impacts on training situations
which emphasize nature experience:
Instead of a normative approach, where participants of outdoor training situations learn how to treat
nature in the right way, individually relationships to nature based on individual and social-cultural
experiences are discussed. It is possible to define one’s own position, to find out something about
one’s own conditions for the construction of nature. The process of observation and reflection
concerning the individual and social constructs of relationship becomes important and helps to
establish intra- and interpersonal relationships (Schörghuber 1999, pp.46 and 2010).
Schörghuber (1999, pp.49) elaborates on several guiding principles for seminars with nature
experience as the major topic. As objectives he mentions
• To experience and describe perceptions and observations of individual relationships to nature
from different perspectives.
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Reflection of these perspectives with regard to the occupied position.
Reflection of social constructs of nature and its possibilities and handicaps.
Not to impart new knowledge but to make visible that what is already available.
Interpretations of distinctions made by the participants between inner and outer nature are
avoided (or declared). The work with individual interpretations, souvenirs, images,
connotations and evaluations is supported.
Interventions concerning the perception of self, nature and the other are treated on several levels:
physical, mental, cognitive, spiritual and social. To be able to perceive inner and outer nature it is
preferable to prepare the participants with body-oriented exercises, for example on the principles of
Bioenergetic Analysis. As precondition for trainers and coaches in the field an adequate qualification
and reflection of one’s own concepts of nature is indispensable (Schörghuber 1999, pp.49).
Using analogue elements of learning in an intercultural setting
The individual’s relationship to nature can serve as a learning field using analogue elements of
communication and behavior, that allow, for instance, working on intrapersonal and interpersonal
contact (Schörghuber 1996, pp.172 and 1999, 31). Analogue elements of communication and
behavior easily lead to misunderstandings between individuals from different cultures, as long as they
are not reflected on a conscious level (Watzlawick/Beavin/Jackson 1990, 20). They play a major role
in intercultural contact and relationships, but as they are often ambiguous and cannot transmit clear
information, intercultural communication always risks “failing” (Watzlawick/Beavin/Jackson 1990,
pp. 62). In the outdoor training situation, where reflection is a central part of the trainer’s intervention
cycle, it is possible to get some of these partly unconscious elements onto the surface via feedback and
communication and thus make them treatable.
If we emphasize the relational aspect between persons and nature, we regard nature as something
“similar” to human beings. This also means to highlight a person’s relationship towards nature, which
is influenced by his or her past experiences to nature, by the individual’s process of socialization and
all kinds of memories. Therefore we assume that there are similarities when people from different
cultures come into contact and enter into some kind of relationship and when people try to come
intentionally into contact with nature. Human beings can come into contact with other human beings
or with nature and both aspects are apt to deliver personal insights about individual patterns of
behavior, which might also be cultural-bound.
If the link person-nature is seen in this relational way, it is not only possible to work on contact, but
also to work on dialogue, on identity and identification as well as to use nature as ‘intensifying
environment’. (Amesberger G./Amesberger B. 1998, pp. 13). Especially the work on dialogue and on
identity can also serve for the goal of initiating intercultural learning processes. In this view the focus
of outdoor-related interventions will be on body and perception exercises that encourage relations, on
enhancing free connotations, imaginary journeys, telling stories etc. (IOA® 2009, pp. 15)
For intercultural learning situations the fact that the human body is common to all persons regardless
of social or cultural background is especially helpful. We can use different impressive and relevant
experiences in the outer nature that influence aspects of the inner nature, like body consciousness,
body images, body concepts/conceptions, physical experience and physical perception, in outdoor
training situations for initiating the reflection process (Amesberger 1995, 2). We suppose that the
physical elements allow similar experiences. Their interpretation is depending on the individual’s
social and cultural background and offers possibilities for intercultural dialogue and contact.
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The aim of this paper was to show that from a social constructionist approach nature can be seen as
something that is culturally formed by human beings. Therefore it is an interesting topic to be
reflected in an outdoor setting, when the purpose of the training situation is to initiate intercultural
learning processes of persons and groups.
The result of such a social construction process is a diversity of meanings that can be discovered in
different cultures. Nature can be holy, spiritual, a resource, female, a danger or threat, a framework of
action and living, symbol for sustainability, subject to preservation, a place, property etc. (Stewart
2003, 312).
In the outdoor training situation it is possible to work with these different perspectives and
orientations towards nature without preferring one. This offers occasions for intercultural
encountering and dialogue.
We distinguished inner and outer nature for analytical reasons. In fact inner nature (the human body)
and outer nature (the external environment) are in touch with each other. Human beings are in our
understanding always part of the nature (Nicol/Higgins 2008). We emphasize in this context the
relationship between human beings and nature. If we want to seize the meaning of nature for
individuals or groups, we have to bear in mind the whole person who is embedded in cultural and
societal contexts. Societal forces influence cultural norms and cannot be ignored neither in the
scientific discussion nor in the experiential learning practice.
Using analogue elements of learning in an intercultural setting means to enter into a direct relationship
to nature. This can be a simple dialogue with a tree. In this case the tree is no longer an object outside
the person and is described in parameters of height and color, but the attention is drawn to things
between the person and the tree like in any other interpersonal relationship. Nature can in this way
point to certain patterns of behavior that might be cultural bound and in the first step on an
unconscious level. It is the task of the well-trained outdoor trainer to provide conditions and tasks that
ensure that there are possibilities for persons and groups to enter into a direct relationship with nature
and in a second step to enter into intra- and interpersonal dialogue to be able to reflect personal
concepts of nature and those of others.
“In the relationship to nature [the tree, note from the authors] personal attitudes, physical postures,
personal transmission patterns, societal values and, what we call nature, meet each other. The adapted
and focused structuring of this relationship represents the job of educators and trainers.” (IOA® 2009,
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handeln, Theoretische Grundlagen und gesellschaftliche Praxis, Frankfurt: Campus, 27-36
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Dynamics, 31 (4), 339-351
Susanne Lesk:
Graduated at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in 1998;
Currently finishing studies of Romance Languages (French, Italian) and Philosophy at the University of Vienna;
Academic trainer and consultant of Integrative Outdoor Activities IOA®;
Vocational training as an instructor for fitness/adults (body building) and alpine hiking (Sportakademie Innsbruck);
Aerobic, fitness and sport climbing trainer
University lecturer (since 1998) and currently research assistant at the Institute for Human Resource Management at the
Vienna University of Economics and Business;
Instructor (fitness trainer) and outdoor trainer for students at the University of Vienna;
Indoor and outdoor training in (International) HRM, team and organizational development, leadership, HR accounting.
Markus Gutmann
Since 7 years, an independent trainer and consultant in social and economic sectors.
Six years in leading position: Management of projects in the field of outdoor experiential education, social therapy and
long-term drug therapy.
Since 2006, active member of the Association IOA® - Outdoorprojekte für Schulen und Bildungsinstitutionen
Training and leadership of workshops on various topics and institutions.
Study of social pedagogy
Post graduate study of “Training and Consulting”, that is experience based learning and development at the University
of Vienna (Integrative Outdoor-Aktivitäten®)
State-certified instructor for mountain biking and hiking BAfl - Linz / Graz
Trainer and coach in school / in social education, Outdoor team days „Outdoorprojekte, ein reflektiertes Abenteuer mit
Zukunft“, Team development, right on time guiding a change processes within a school.
Trainer and consultant in economic fields: Team days, Professional Workshops, Work Culture, project advice.
Lecturer in adult education for the state of lower Austria
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Outdoor Learning Within the Formal Scottish Secondary Curriculum:
Opportunities and Challenges
Ashley J. J. Fenwick
University of Stirling, School of Education, Scotland
[email protected]
A number of global and national trends have culminated in the re-emergence of outdoor learning
within the Scottish curriculum. The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development [ESD] (20052014) highlights the important role of education in engaging young people with global challenges.
Increased poor health in children and inactivity (British Medical Association, 2007) are well
documented. Louv (2005) describes the lack of contact with nature in today’s younger generation and
associated health problems as ‘nature-deficit disorder’ (p.99).
Kahn (2002) states that
‘environmental generational amnesia’ has reduced an individual’s desire to care for their
environment. These concerns are increasingly reflected in many developed nation’s education systems
(Hogan et al, 2008; Ministry of Education [MOE], 2007; Broadhead, 2001) including Scotland’s
Curriculum for Excellence [CfE] (Scottish Executive [SE], 2004). Commonalities relating to social
constructivist pedagogies, inter-disciplinary learning, ESD, health and well being, personal and
social development can be seen across these curricula. Beames, Atencio and Ross (2009) highlight
the integral contribution that outdoor education might play in delivering experiential education
relevant to the needs of modern society and the big issues of our time. The role of outdoor learning is
rarely explicit in Scottish policy and is frequently viewed as an ‘add on’ (Nicol, Higgins, Ross &
Mannion, 2007). Research has outlined the personal and social benefits and explored some of the
barriers schools and teachers face (Nicol et al., 2007; Rickinson et al., 2004). The current
international and national policy context create an opportunity for a more embedded position for
outdoor learning within the formal curriculum. This paper seeks to provide an update into the
changing role of outdoor learning across the curriculum and examines the opportunities and
challenges that this presents for secondary schools in Scotland.
Outdoor Learning
The terms ‘outdoor education’ and ‘outdoor learning’ are often used interchangeably. Thorburn and
Allison (2010) identify ‘considerable conceptual confusion’ (p.99) within the literature. Historically,
outdoor learning has been characterised by the development of an individual’s relationship with self,
others, and the natural environment (Mortlock, 1984; Hopkins & Putnam, 1993). Traditionally this
involved a technical focus, requiring mastery of the skills necessary for outdoor pursuits. Donaldson
and Donaldson (1958) presented a wider definition which illustrated the overlapping nature of outdoor
education. Higgins and Loyne’s (1997) venn diagram echoed this description identifying three
components – education ‘in’ the outdoors (outdoor activities), ‘through’ the outdoors (personal and
social development), and ‘about’ the outdoors (environmental education). Outdoor learning is
becoming more integrated, crossing traditional boundaries. It is now viewed as a broader and
more enabling term than outdoor education which is often associated with residential centres and
expeditions. Greenaway offers a broad definition (Institute for Outdoor Learning,
www.outdoorlearning.org/what_is_outdoor_learning/index.htm) which states that although diverse,
outdoor learning has a common core: which develops values, is based on direct experiences and
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promotes active and real learning. Learning and Teaching Scotland [LTS] (2007) defined ‘outdoor
education as a process in which educators, students and others take part’ and ‘outdoor learning’ as that
learning which accrues as a result (p.5).
Outdoor education in Scotland is delivered by the public, private and charitable sectors within schools,
residential, outdoor and field-studies centres, and hostels and camps. Table 1 illustrates the range of
outdoor education activities which may be currently encountered within the formal Scottish secondary
school curriculum. Extra-curricular, lunchtime and sport related activities will be outwith the scope of
this paper. This paper will focus on outdoor learning within secondary schools in Scotland. The
majority of Scottish pupils attend secondary schools from ages 12-17, although some choose to leave
at 16.
Table 1
Outdoor adventure
Fieldwork and
outdoor visits
School grounds/
community based
Key focus
Often specialist
Narrow - Zip wire, high
residential centre in ropes courses, abseiling
an unfamiliar
Broad - Duke of Edinburgh
Award (extra-curricula semiformal personal development
Learning activities usually Field
studies Geography river study.
RME visit to Buddhist
linked to the curriculum.
Learning takes place near Local
the school with a range of
curricular, crossLearning Journeys
curricular or extra(Beames et al., 2009)
curricular activities.
Promotes both cognitive
and affective learning.
Outdoor adventurous
activities which primarily
promote affective learning
- teamwork, interpersonal
skills and self
Outdoor Learning and the Scottish Curriculum
Higgins (2002) provides a detailed account of the history of outdoor education in Scotland. Sir
Patrick Geddes and Kurt Hahn were key figures associated with the development of outdoor learning.
The 1945 Education (Scotland) Act acknowledged the value of direct outdoor experience and led to a
growth in residential and adventure education in secondary schools during the 1960s and 1970s.
Several local education authorities [LEAs] were world renowned for their formalised provision of
outdoor education (Cheesemond, 1979 cited in Higgins, 2002). Whilst the 5-14 (Scottish Office
Education Department, 1993) school curriculum arrangements acknowledged the benefits of outdoor
education (Higgins, Nicol & Ross, 2006), the lack of specific endorsement and shared vision (Raffe,
Howieson & Tinklin, 2007) resulted in a limited presence in a predominantly subject-based
curriculum. The latter part of the 20th Century saw a steady decline in outdoor centre school activities
due to rising costs, a more formalised and controlled curricula and increased managerialism in
schools. The 1998 restructuring of nine regional authorities to 32 LEAs further exacerbated this trend.
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In 2005 a research and development programme ‘Outdoor Connections’ sponsored by the SE and led
by LTS was announced. The programme’s purpose was to connect outdoor education with a range of
current and emerging education priorities, policies and stakeholders. Its aim was to improve the
quality of learning experiences; and secure a sustainable status for outdoor education as part of overall
education and lifelong learning provision. ‘Taking Learning Outdoors’ (LTS, 2007) was the
culmination of this work and claimed that core experiences in the curriculum were enhanced and
integrated by outdoor education. Criticisms linked to lack of research rigour were levelled at the
initiative. It was perceived as not radical enough and failed to offer sustained leadership, curriculum
and pedagogical justification and insight about how a change agenda could be enacted (Thorburn &
Allison, 2010). Mannion, Doyle, Sankey, Mattu and Wilson (2007) illustrated the declining trend in
outdoor learning provision with secondary school pupils spending least time outdoors. Formal outdoor
learning events were surveyed in15 secondary schools during the 2006 summer term. The average
duration spent on outdoor learning by randomly chosen secondary schools was 13 minutes per pupil
per week. Residential adventure activities were more prevalent than local based initiatives. The data
revealed that a substantial number of young people in secondary schools received no outdoor learning
during the eight week survey period.
CfE, the new curriculum to be implemented from August 2010, heralds an opportunity for outdoor
CfE (SE, 2004) emerged in post-devolution Scotland from the National Debate on Education in 2002.
The values, purposes and principles for education were to be delivered through a single, coherent 318, de-cluttered curriculum characterised by greater teacher autonomy and curriculum decisionmaking. It signalled a policy change from a traditional, knowledge-driven curriculum towards a more
skill-based, flexible, creative system promoting transferable skills. The Minister for Education and
Young People identified CfE as having ‘profound implications for what is learnt, how it is taught and
what is assessed’ (SE, 2004, p.3). CfE connects to a wide range of existing educational agendas Education for Citizenship (LTS, 2002), Enterprise Education (SE, 2007a), ESD (Sustainable
Development Education Liaison Group, 2007) and highlights health and well being as the
responsibility of all practitioners. It seeks to develop four capacities within pupils ‘successful learners,
confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors’ (SE, 2004, p.3). A commitment
to ‘greater cross-subject activity’ and space for activities that ‘broaden the life experiences - and life
chances - of young people’ (SE, 2004, p. 4) have been welcomed by outdoor education stakeholders.
CfE aims to place the learner at the centre of the curriculum, to reduce the amount of decontextualised subject content and to promote real world experience (SE, 2007b). Situated learning in
the outdoors appears ‘legitimised’ by CfE (Beames et al, 2009). However, this match has not been
evident in curriculum documentation where specific reference to outdoor learning in secondary
schools has been limited (SE, 2008, p. 39). In 2008 the Scottish Government set up the Outdoor
Learning Strategic Advisory Group (OLSAG) to provide clear strategic advice and leadership on
learning beyond the classroom, in all its forms, which is consistent with the experiences and outcomes
for the 3–18 curricula. This culminated in the publication of ‘Curriculum for Excellence through
outdoor learning’ (LTS, 2010) which sets out a vision for all schools:
to provide frequent and progressive outdoor learning opportunities which are clearly part of
the curriculum. It is the responsibility of all involved in education to recognise the place of
outdoor learning within the curriculum and plan accordingly to ensure that all children and
young people in Scotland receive these opportunities as part of their learning journey. (2010,
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Traditionally outdoor learning has been associated with geography, biology and extra-curricular
activities such as Duke of Edinburgh. This document challenges these traditions advocating outdoor
learning across all curriculum areas. It calls for progressive, sustainable and regular outdoor learning
opportunities that are planned and integrated into ongoing work across all curriculum areas. Local
place-based, low cost, sustainable activities are encouraged. Partnership working is acknowledged as
important, however, class teachers are expected to deliver the majority of outdoor learning activities
as part of a planned approach to engaging learners and developing wider achievements. Continuing
professional development will therefore be essential. The document highlights the need to assess the
value of outdoor learning experiences. A self-evaluation framework is provided which is based on the
current self-evaluation quality improvement and inspection framework ‘How Good is Our School 3’
(Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education [HMIe], 2007). This structure may lead to HMIe
commenting more rigorously on outdoor learning practice.
While ambitions are high at governmental level, concerns have been raised around the lack of
consultation and clear rationale linked to the values which underpin CfE (Gillies, 2006). Scottish
secondary schools have undergone little structural change since the introduction of the comprehensive
system. Most secondary teachers’ professional identities are strongly grounded in a sense of subject
specialism (Priestley, 2005). Concerns, around CfE, have been raised over the loss of subject identity
within a more generic curriculum (MacIver, 2007). This is compounded by truncated management
structures, introduced by some LEAs, which group subject specialists in larger composite departments
or ‘faculties’. Priestley and Humes (2010) argue that CfE is:
... inimical to the underlying purposes of the curriculum as expressed in the four capacities.
There are thus tensions between convergent and divergent modes of learning, between
teleological and open ended conceptions of education, which may be unhelpful to the process
of enactment in the classroom (p.358).
Outdoor learning has always been viewed as an ‘ad hoc’ element of the Scottish curriculum dependent
on local factors, teacher enthusiasm, resource availability and political factors. Humes (2008)
described outdoor learning policy making in Scotland as uncritical with stakeholders making the most
of the ‘narrative privilege’ (p.71) which exists within official policy reporting. The current situation is
one where national governments gain acclaim for policy statements which when translated to LEA
and school level are more difficult to detect (Whitty, 2006). Evidence exists to support the health and
social benefits of outdoor learning through residential and adventure education (Higgins & Nicol,
2002). The role of outdoor learning in developing pupil understanding and skills in the formal
curriculum (Rickinson et al., 2004; Office for Standards in Education, 2004) is less clear. It is an
apposite time to consider the opportunities and challenges the current context presents.
The current policy context provides strong support and justification to schools and teachers who wish
to embed outdoor learning within the curriculum. Beames, et al. (2009) argue that this context may go
some way to reducing previously identified barriers such as health and safety, time allocation and
timetable disruption Higgins et al. (2006). CfE provides an opportunity to develop local, place based,
creative outdoor learning opportunities which meet the needs of the curriculum for example Outdoor
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From our perspectives, effective outdoor learning resonates so clearly with CfE that pupils
who are being denied an education outside the classroom may be limited in their ability to
develop the four capacities to their full potential (Beames et al., pp.42-43).
CfE states that ‘learning is embedded in experience’ (SE, 2007b, p. 10). This is not a new concept as
illustrated by the work of Dewey, Piaget, Bloom, Friere, Gardner and Kolb. Research has claimed that
outdoor learning is more effective at developing cognitive skills than classroom based learning (Eaton,
2000), promotes deeper rooted learning and better concentration (Szczepanski, Malmer, Nelson, &
Dahlgren, 2006). International literature offers examples of approaches which embed outdoor learning
within the school curriculum (Wrigley & Lofsnaes, 2005; Levine, 2002; Thomas, Enloe, & Newell,
2005; Henderson & Vikander, 2007; Bentsen, Mygind Thomas & Randrup &, 2009). Scotland has
much to learn from such examples. Sterling (2001) advocates an ecological view of teaching and
learning which is characterised by transformation, process development and action. An integrative
relationship is promoted between learners and teachers, and functional, critical and creative
competencies valued. A changing curriculum creates an opportunity to address 21st century challenges
and concerns. Outdoor learning’s place within the formal curriculum may be one fruitful area in which
change can take place to deliver the curriculum’s ambitions (Beames et al., 2009).
For years there has been a growing sense of frustration that for some pupils there has been too
little time in the formal curriculum for personal and social development of a more active
nature. Moves towards curriculum flexibility offer the chance to build in alternative, powerful
learning experiences… (Depute Head, Scottish Secondary School, 2008)
Brookes (2002) challenges the traditional view of `curriculum’ as the ordering of learning in time and
highlights the importance of locating learning in place. Brookes (2002) argues for a place in
curriculum discourse where ‘patterns of geographical experience’ (p. 408) are understood as
curriculum stating that if outdoor education curriculum development was ultimately local and schoolbased, it would make a more profound contribution to the wider development of a curriculum fit for
the modern times. In a curriculum dominated by ‘indoor’ learning there exists a policy opportunity
for greater learning to take place in outdoor settings. CfE permits greater professional autonomy and
responsibility in relation to curriculum planning and design. This presents an opportunity to consider
more creative approaches to curriculum ‘architecture’ (White, 2004; Boyd et al, 2007).
The framework provides flexibility to organise, schedule and deliver the experiences and
outcomes in ways that meet the needs of all learners, but also provides reassurance about
consistency where necessary. Such flexibility will result in a more varied pattern of curriculum
structures to reflect local needs and circumstances (SE, 2008, pp11-12).
A cross-disciplinary function affords outdoor learning a central curricular role and an organising
framework which encourages teachers to make more use of the flexible course programming
arrangements and allows pupils to review what is of value to them. This requires exemplification, both
in terms of articulation with curriculum arrangements and pedagogy. Little research exists which
examines subject approaches to outdoor learning and the influence of changing structures.
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Critics might consider that little real change has been achieved to date other than raising the profile of
outdoor learning and reaffirming its potential contribution to all areas of the curriculum. Curriculum
change can be a slow process and schools change reforms as much as reforms change schools (Cuban,
1998). The process of change currently being seen with CfE is often little more than an audit to see
what fits with existing practice followed by minimal modification to meet the requirements of the new
curriculum (Supovitz & Weinbaum 2008). Superficial changes to schools, or first order changes to
improve efficiency (Cuban, 1988), are easy. Second order changes, changing the ‘core’ of teaching are
much more difficult (Elmore, 2004). There has been considerable apathy and uncertainty towards CfE
amongst secondary practitioners. CfE is perceived by some to undermine the exclusive centrality of
subject specialism and de-contextualised disciplinary content (Carr, Allison & Meldrum, 2006). The
emphasis on disciplinary specialism within secondary schools and measurable content in the official
curriculum (Hargreaves, 1994; Priestley, 2005) may be a barrier to outdoor learning; alongside
resources, time, professional development and safety constraints. Priestley and Humes (2010) fear that
the aspirational curriculum imagined at the outset of CfE, appears increasingly constrained and may
threaten the freedom and creativity of teachers and learners. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Report (2007) warned that Scotland’s long gap between proposing and
implementing change compared badly with countries like Finland. This could lead to a loss of
momentum, enthusiasm and commitment amongst practitioners (p.121). Sustaining the focus on
outdoor learning may prove difficult as teachers focus on assessment priorities and resource
The curriculum operates at different levels, namely policy and practice. A range of factors affect
curriculum-making in schools: contextual factors, organisational factors, styles of management,
resources, locus of decision-making, internal or external assessments, curriculum factors, micropolitical factors, expectations of students and parents and individual factors. The prescribed policy,
enacted and received curriculum vary greatly. Rickinson et al. (2004) suggested that place,
programme and participants are all factors that can facilitate or impede students’ learning in outdoor
settings. Drawing on Mortlock’s (1984) work Mannion et al (2007) echo those findings identifying the
individual, the activity and the environment as inter-related factors in valued outdoor experiences.
Schools, teachers and pupils’ biographies shape their attitude to outdoor learning. Providing
professional development opportunities for teachers and ensuring that outdoor learning is integrated
into teacher training programmes is essential if the ‘adhoc’ and variable pupil experience found within
Scottish schools is to be addressed. Ballantyne and Packer (2002) found significant differences
between primary and secondary students’ enthusiasm and motivation relating to outdoor learning.
Outdoor education programs should be rooted in the history, ecology, culture, and stories of the places
they are in (Brookes, 2002; Knapp, 2005; Stewart, 2004). Initiatives such as ‘Effective outdoor
learning in secondary school grounds’ delivered by Grounds for Learning and Scottish Natural
Heritage’s ‘Teaching in Nature’ project encourage collaborative partnerships which develop
sustainable, local outdoor learning experiences suited to pupils needs.
The emergent position of outdoor learning within the formal curriculum raises questions in relation to
pedagogy and planning. The move towards a more embedded curricular approach to outdoor learning
may result in the generation of pre-determined learning intentions removed from the learners’
experiences (Hovelynck cited in Beames, 2006). Rickinson et al. (2004) highlights failure to deliver
aims in practice, as one of outdoor learning’s shortfalls. This raises the question - should outdoor
learning be quantified, pre-planned and measured? Beames (2006) wrestles with some of these issues
and accepts that all outdoor education programs are contrived to some degree, but advocates ‘broad
adventures’ that involve much longer time scales, varied challenges and devolve some responsibilities
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to students (Rubens, 1999). Outdoor learning is currently viewed by pupils as a desirable alternative to
routine classroom based pedagogy. If outdoor learning becomes more prevalent in schools will it too
become routine and therefore less effective? The type of pedagogy that evolves will be key – simply
transferring indoor practice to the outdoors fails to capitalise on the benefits of outdoor experiential
learning. As schools strive to demonstrate competencies and capacities relating to citizenship, ESD,
health and well being, outdoor learning may be viewed as one vehicle to deliver the tick box culture
characteristic of a standards based curriculum. Questions relating to subject suitability also arise –
does outdoor learning enhance pupils’ learning experiences and aid understanding in all subjects?
Research evidence suggests that fieldwork relating to science and geography may improve pupil
learning (Nundy, 1999), knowledge retention, motivation, higher-order learning (Kern & Carpenter,
1986; Rickinson et al, 2004) and practical skills (Kent, Gilberstone & Hunt, 1997; Rickinson et al,
This paper has considered the changing nature and place of outdoor learning within Scotland’s new
curriculum. The current international and national policy context creates favourable opportunities for a
more embedded, sustainable approach to outdoor learning in secondary schools. Several challenges
have been highlighted. Scotland can learn much by considering outdoor learning curricular provision
in other countries within Europe, such as udeskole (Bentsen et al., 2008) and further afield (Brookes,
Ballantyne, R., & Packer, J. (2002). Nature-based excursions: school students’ perceptions of learning
in natural environments. International Research in Geographical and Environmental
Education, 11(3), 218-36.
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Beames, S., Atencio, M., & Ross, H. (2009). Taking Excellence Outdoors. Scottish Educational
Review, 41(2), 32-45.
Bentsen, P., Mygind, E. & Randrup, T.B. (2009). Towards an understanding of udeskole: education
outside the classroom in a Danish context. Education 3-13, 37(1), 29-44.
Boyd, B., Dunlop, A., Mitchell, J., Logue, J., Gavienas, E., Seagraves, L., Clinton, C. & Deuchar, R.
(2007). Curriculum architecture - a literature review. Report for the Scottish Executive.
Glasgow: University of Strathclyde.
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Carr, D., Allison, P. & Meldrum, G. (2006). In search of excellence: Towards a more coherent
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Donaldson, G., & Donaldson, L. (1958). Outdoor education: A definition. Journal of Physical
Education, Recreation & Dance, 29(17), 27- 63.
Eaton, D. (2000). Cognitive and affective learning in outdoor education. Dissertation Abstracts
International – Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 60, 10-A, 3595.
Elmore, R.F. (2004). School reform from the inside out: Policy, practice and performance.
Cambridge, Mass: Harvard.
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Henderson, B., & Vikander, N. (2007). Nature first: Outdoor life the Friluftsliv way. Toronto: Natural
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Part 3, Livingston: HMIE.
Higgins, P. (2002). Outdoor Education in Scotland. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor
Learning, 2(2), 149-168.
Higgins, P., & Loynes, C. (1997). On the Nature of Outdoor Education. In: P. Higgins, C. Loynes and
N. Crowther (Eds.) A Guide for Outdoor Educators in Scotland. Adventure Education:
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natural heritage through the curriculum. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
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Hopkins, D. & Putnam, R. (1993). Personal Growth through Adventure. Bristol, PA: Taylor &
Humes, W. H. (2008). Policy making in Scottish education. In T.G.K. Bryce and W.H. Humes.
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Kern E.L., & Carpenter J.R., (1986). Effect of Field Activities on student Learning. Journal of
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Mannion, G., Doyle, L., Sankey, K., Mattu, L., & Wilson, M. (2007). Young people’s interaction with
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Nicol, R., Higgins, P., Ross, H., & Mannion, G. (2007). Outdoor Education in Scotland: A Summary
of Recent Research. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
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London: Ofsted.
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Education: Quality and Equity of Schooling in Scotland. Paris: OECD.
Priestley, M. (2005). Making the most of the Curriculum Review: Some Reflections on Supporting
and Sustaining Change in Schools. Scottish Educational Review, 37(1), 29-38.
Priestley, M. & Humes, W. (2010). The Development of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence:
amnesia and déjà vu. Oxford Review of Education, 1-17, iFirst Article.
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system: The Higher Still reform of post-16 education in Scotland. British Educational
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Rickinson, M., Dillon, J., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Choi M. Y., Sanders, D. & Benefield, P. (2004). A
review of research on outdoor learning, Shrewsbury: National Foundation for Educational
Research and King's College London.
Rubens, D. (1999) Effort or Performance: Keys to Motivated Learners in the Outdoors. In: Horizons,
4 pp 26- 28.
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Scottish Executive. (2004). A Curriculum for Excellence - The Curriculum Review Group. Edinburgh:
Scottish Executive.
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Scottish Executive. (2007b). Building the curriculum 2: active learning in the early years. Edinburgh:
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Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.
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No. 6. Published by Green Books.
Stewart, A. (2004). Decolonising encounters with the Murray River: Building place responsive
outdoor education. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 8(2), 46–55.
Supovitz, J. A., & Weinbaum, E. (2008). The Implementation Gap: Understanding Reform in High
Schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
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Szczepanski, A., Malmer, K., Nelson, N. & Dahlgren, L.O. (2006). The distinctive nature and
potential of
outdoor education from a teacher perspective. An intervention study of teachers in nine-year
school. Retrieved, 20/03/10 from http://udeskole.dk/media/AndersSzczepanski.pdf
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Ashley Fenwick is a lecturer in the Institute of Education at University of Stirling. She taught Geography in Scottish
Secondary schools for eleven years before working as Geography Co-ordinator within Initial Teacher Education at the
University of Strathclyde. Her research interests include outdoor learning, early professional learning and beginning
teachers. Ashley is currently working towards gaining a Doctorate in Education.
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The concept of nature in Outdoor Studies at the University of Marburg
Martin Vollmar
University of Marburg, Insitute for Sports Sciences and Motology, Germany
[email protected]
This lecture deals with different ideas or conceptualisations of nature being crucial for the outdoor
education program at the University of Marburg. Of course, a main core of outdoor educational
practice is acting in, into, against or with nature. In general these close bond between nature and
outdoor education is associated with direct experience, concreteness and the very naturalness. In
doing so the appearance of nature is very different. Our study program tries to expound the problems
of the widespread use of nature being (only) a coulisse for experience. There a some more ideas or
conceptualisations like 'nature as a counter-world', 'nature as the not-human sphere', 'nature as
landscape', 'nature as a subject', 'nature as an aesthetic or scientific object' and more. This lecture
intends to clarify the different characterizations of those ideas of nature in the framework of our
outdoor study program. It is the 1st (more theoretical) part of a consideration which is deepened in a
2nd presentation entitled „Contemplative approaches during an excursion“ focussing on aesthetic
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Contemplative Approaches During an Excursion Focussing on Aesthetic
Martin Lindner, Cornelia Berthold
University of Marburg, Insitute for Sports Sciences and Motology, Germany
[email protected]
In this workshop we will continue with the lecture on the concept of nature in Outdoor
Studies at the University of Marburg. We will focus on experiences we have made during
different excurions with our students in the Alps. Painting or drawing the landscape is seen
by us as a way to explore the particular of a certain landscape. We will invite all participants
to go out and to find a nice place for painting. After this practical exploration we will discuss
the process of the work and not the result of the paintings. And we will try to find out possible
outcomes by using this method in an educational setting.
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Physical Activity and Learning in Udeskole
Dr Erik Mygind, Peter Bentsen & Glen Nielsen
University of Copenhagen, Department of Excercise and Sport Science, Denmark
[email protected], [email protected]
Teaching outside the classroom (Udeskole) one day every week has been observed to influence
children’s physical activity, learning and social relations positively. However, these observations are
based on very few case studies. From a few udeskole classes in year 2000, the number has now
increased to more than 290 in Denmark, which makes it possible to get a much better understanding
of whether and how udeskole has an impact on physical activity, school performance and other
competencies. The aim of the presentation is to describe, discuss and query a national Danish out-ofclassroom study in the years to come. A mixed methods study is used to achieve stronger evidence
about strengths and weaknesses of practicing udeskole. Do the alternative teaching practices of
udeskole increase children’s physical activity, while also facilitating academic learning and
improving motivation for school? It is hypothesized that learning processes taking place in outdoor
settings are motivating and effect full for children while also increasing their physical activity level.
Of special interest is whether children with overweight, special needs or minority groups will benefit
from udeskole in relation to health as well as learning perspectives?
1. Introduction
In Denmark, as in many other countries, there is a growing concern about the health of children, and
in particular the current obesity epidemic with 21% of girls and 15% of boys being overweight due to
lifestyle and lack of physical activity (Pearson et al., 2005). Research has shown that the general
health and physical condition of school children has changed for the worse over the past 10 to15 years
(Rasmussen, Due & Holstein, 2000) and that children’s daily levels of physical activity have become
polarized over the last 20 years resulting in an increasing number of children being insufficiently
active (Wedderkopp et al., 2004; Wedderkopp et al., 2001; Ekeland et al., 1999; Harsha, 1995). This is
problematic as, it is well-documented that physical activity among children reduces a number of
health-risk factors such as blood lipids, insulin resistance, hypertension and body fatness, both on the
short and long term (e.g. Andersen et al., 2006; Kimm et al., 2005; Riddoch & Boreham, 1995; US
Department of Health and Human Service, 1997).
In order to address the health problems caused by inactivity of children, different sectors of children’s
everyday lives that provide opportunities for physical activity have been considered as settings in
which to plan public-health initiatives. The voluntary club-sport system offers children and youth
opportunities for physical activity in terms of sporting and other recreational activities in their leisure
time. However, the clubs do not manage to attract or include all children (Pilgaard, 2008), and it has
been shown, for example, that girls of ethnic background other than Danish and overweight children
seldom participate (Nielsen & Ibsen, 2008).
Since all children spend a large proportion of their time in school, the school domain could play an
important role in promoting daily physical activity for all children. Currently, Danish schools offer
from one to two hours of formal physical education (PE) every week. Research has shown that the
recommended amount of physical activity for children should be one hour of moderate activity every
day (e.g. Sallis, 1993; Biddle et al., 1998, US Department of Health and Human Services, 1997),
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which far exceeds what is being provided in terms of compulsory PE in schools. Some interventions
have tested the impact of increasing the hours of PE provided in schools (Eichberg Hansen, 2005;
Grønfeldt, 2007). These types of intervention can be criticized for two main reasons. Firstly, formal
PE in schools has often a sporting or performance focus that might not interest or motivate all children
(Orlick, 1986; Weiss, 1986); therefore increasing the hours of PE may not have a broad impact on
physical activity for all children. Secondly, it is problematic if efforts to increase physical activity in
terms of more PE happen at the expense of the resources allocated to children’s learning and academic
performances. As a result, it is relevant to investigate whether alternative teaching practices, such as
udeskole 21 , could provide different solutions to increase children’s physical activity, while also
facilitating academic learning and improving motivation for school. Research projects in pre-school
institutions have demonstrated an improvement in physical fitness, motor skills and coordination and a
higher ability to concentrate when children were allowed to spend time in natural settings on a daily
basis (Fjørtoft, 1998; Grahn et al., 1997).
1.1 Udeskole: education outside the classroom in Danish schools
Udeskole targets school children age 7 to 16, and is characterised by compulsory educational activities
outside the school area on a regular basis (i.e. one day weekly or fortnightly) and can take place in
various settings, such as nature, local communities, factories and farms (Jordet, 1998, 2007; Bentsen
et al., 2010). Especially in the Scandinavian countries, there is a belief that nature may have a role in
childhood and in the education of children and adolescents (Bentsen et al., 2009a; O’Brien & Murray,
2007; Dahlgren & Szczepanski, 1998).
In Denmark, udeskole has so far been practised in natural settings and the term nature classes have
been used and could be understood as a part of the term udeskole (Mygind 2005). Udeskole-activities
are characterised by making use of the local environment when teaching specific subjects and
curriculum areas by, for example, measuring and calculating the volume of trees in mathematics,
writing poems in and about nature when teaching languages, or visiting historical significant places in
history or religious education although the teaching/learning activities are often cross-disciplinary and
cross-curricular activities. Thus, the approach is often to deal with an academic subject matter or
concept in its real concrete form to facilitate learning and understanding processes in children and
provide a motivating school setting.
Since 2000, the Danish school system has shown increasing interest in udeskole and today
approximately 290 schools practice udeskole in Denmark (Bentsen et al., 2009c), however evidence
and knowledge about how outdoor teaching and learning has an impact on children’s well-being,
social relations, learning and physical activity level is still lacking (Mygind, 2005, 2007, 2009). The
results of emerging recent research into udeskole have generally been positive (Bentsen et., 2010).
Research in Norway has documented learning potentials of udeskole (Jordet, 2007), and a study in
Sweden has found a stress-reducing effect on teachers teaching in the outdoor environment
(Szczepanski et al., 2006). A review that critically examined 150 articles of research published in
English on outdoor learning between 1993 and 2003 summarised that: “Substantial evidence exists to
indicate that fieldwork, properly conceived, adequately planned, well taught and effectively followed
Udeskole is a broad term referring to curriculum based teaching on a regular basis in nature as well as
culture settings. It is hard to find a suitable equivalent word in English, but udeskole could be understood as
‘outdoor schooling’ or ‘out-of-school-teaching’. The concept of out-of-school-teaching originates from Norway
where teachers and pupils also use natural surroundings or a culture setting i.e. museums, companies, factories,
churches etc as ‘outdoor’ classrooms on a regular basis.
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up, offers learners opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in ways that add value to their
everyday experiences in the classroom. Specifically, fieldwork can have a positive impact on longterm memory due to the memorable nature of the fieldwork setting. Effective fieldwork and residential
experience in particular, can lead to individual growth and improvements in social skills” (Rickinson
et al., 2004, p. 5). The review concluded that there is a need for a greater number of in-depth studies
on outdoor learning in school grounds and community settings (Rickinson et al., 2004). Finally, it was
stressed that only few studies had a focus on the impact of outdoor education programmes on physical
activity (ibid.). More recently, two studies have shown the health potential of outdoor teaching and
learning and both studies found that the physical activity level in nature classes increased significantly
on school days spent in nature (Mygind, 2007; Grønningsæter et al., 2007).
However, some caution is required in the interpretation of the results of this emerging field of
research. First of all, the scope of the research in udeskole has mainly been limited to investigations
into teaching and learning outcomes and has been based on small numbers of children and teachers.
Secondly, only case studies and action research have been conducted. Therefore, larger quantitative
studies about the impacts and outcomes of udeskole are needed in order to provide the necessary basis
of evidence and insight on which future political decisions about udeskole in the Danish school system
can be based.
2. Aims of the study
The study follows three paths of investigation.
2.1 Path 1: Physical activity and health
This path of investigation will aim to generate an in-depth understanding of how udeskole impacts
physical activity and health (the prevalence of overweight) among children in primary school when
practiced one day every week. Based on the present knowledge, a positive and significant effect is
hypothesised (Mygind, 2007; Grønningsæter et al., 2007). The much higher number of nature classes
today provides the opportunity for a more powerful and detailed quantitative study. This makes it
possible to investigate whether sedentary and overweight children who avoid sport and physical
activities both in school (PE) could benefit in terms of increased physical activity levels from being
taught in udeskole and natural settings. Furthermore, research has shown that in general girls are more
inactive than boys (Motions- og Ernæringsrådet, 2007), while there seems to be a trend that boys and
girls are almost equal active during udeskole based on results from a Danish case study (Mygind,
2007). The results will provide evidence on which to base political decisions on issues such as
curriculum-based use of udeskole as a mean of improving health. However, this is done knowing that
several actions need to be taken to prevent the prevalence of obesity.
2.2 Path 2: School performances
The second path has the aim to investigate to what extent school performances in the subjects Danish
and Mathematics are influenced by practicing udeskole where 20 % of all teaching takes place outside
the classroom. Over the last 10 years, this has been a standing question raised by parents, teachers and
school leaders involved with udeskole. Today, there is a belief that using udeskole has a positive
impact on learning, social interaction, communication and motivation because of the variation in
didactics and teaching methods used and due to the learning process taking place in udeskole
(Herholdt, 2003; Mygind, 2005; Jordet, 2007). Furthermore, it can be hypothesized that learning
processes taking place in specific natural settings might be especially motivating and effect full for
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children who do not perform well in the more abstract classroom teaching. But as mentioned, there is
a lack of evidence whether udeskole, has a negative or positive impact on school performances in i.e.
Danish and Mathematics and whether it has any special effects for children in general as well as
children with special educational needs. In 2009 8.4 % of all Danish school children were categorized
as needing some sort of special and extra teaching and school help (Danish Ministry of Education,
2009). How does teaching in udeskole affect this group of children and what kind of impact does
udeskole have on their learning process in Danish and Mathematics? The results are expected to give
evidence to whether udeskole is of disadvantage or advantage to the learning process in Danish and
Mathematics among children in primary school.
2.3 Path 3: Learning, competencies and experiences
Path one and two focus on health, physical activity and learning outcomes in Danish and Mathematics
from participating in udeskole. However, children’s health and wellbeing does not only rely on
objectively measured physiological parameters. Also factors at the social (relations to others) and the
psychological level (feelings of self-worth, happiness and motivation) must be considered as
important health parameters (Jensen 2005, Sørensen 2006). It is likely that udeskole due to its more
children involving and interactionist teaching changes and creates other relations among children as
well as between children and teachers and that this process might have a positive effect on the overall
social climate in the class as well as on the personal wellbeing and motivation for school among the
At the same time, it is necessary to investigate whether udeskole contains other important learning
potentials than the ‘traditional’ folkeskole. Whether this style of learning and teaching develops and
reinforces competencies, which are of use from both a child’s and societal perspective.
An interesting question is whether the combination of indoor and outdoor teaching is better able to
engage and develop various competencies and levels of understanding (e.g. Blooms Taxonomi)
compared with ‘traditional’ classroom teaching. The question originates from a case study of an
udeskole class, showing that while the communication in the classroom was typically recounting and
referring, a more explorative language and communication style was predominant among the students
in the outdoors (Herholdt, 2003).
Furthermore, in the general aims of the Danish Folkeskole it is emphasised that “the school’s everyday
life and teaching must build on freedom of thought, equality and democracy, must develop the single
pupil’s personal competencies through the acquirement of knowledge, skills, methods and ways of
expression. The single school must create settings, that leads to self efficacy and a basis for personal
decisions and actions, must provide settings for experiences, enterprise, absorption, comprehension,
imagination and a desire to learn”. And it is emphasized that “the pupils must develop an
understanding and knowledge of Danish culture and other cultures as well as of the interaction
between human and nature”22.
A central question in Path 3 is to what extent udeskole contributes to these aims of the Danish
folkeskole and furthermore it is investigated, how the combination of indoor and outdoor teaching
have an impact on the relations between pupils, pupils and teachers, pupils and schools and pupils and
the surroundings (nature and culture). Does udeskole contain some specific academic and social
competence building potentials, which can supplement teaching in the classroom and add more quality
to the Danish Folkeskole, enabling it to better meet its general aims?
Our translation from Danish
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3. Research questions
What are the physical activity levels in primary school classes on days with udeskole, on normal
school days, and days with PE? Are there gender differences and differences due overweight
What impact does one year with udeskole one day per week have on children’s skills in
Mathematics and Danish (negative, neutral or positive)? Are there different results for different
subgroups, i.e. for children defined as having learning difficulties “specialundervisning”, children
who do not perform well in the traditional school system, boys compared to girls, etc.)?
What kind of competencies and experiences do children develop from participating in udeskole
one day per week?
The three paths and research questions are not independent from one another. Therefore the research
group will work closely together in the exploration of the three paths and research questions.
4. Materials and methods
Schools having classes that practise udeskole one day per week or more will be asked to take part in
the study. Children in the classes doing udeskole will form an intervention group and children from
their parallel classes not doing udeskole will form a control group. The study will involve children in
the classes from second to fifth grade. In 2008, a total of 32 primary school classes (from grade 2 to 5)
nationwide were practising udeskole one day per week and further 11 classes were doing more than
one day per week (Bentsen, unpublished data). On the basis of this information we estimate that more
than 800 children are practising udeskole and are potential participants in the intervention group of the
study. Based on power calculations the total number of children in the intervention and control group,
respectively, must be more than 400 in order to make significant conclusions on whether udeskole has
a significant impact on (in an udeskole perspective) important subgroups of children, such as children
who are overweight or children who do not do well (academically and socially) in the conventional
school system23. With an expected compliance rate of approximately 50% among all known udeskole
classes we intend to invite all classes practising udeskole one day every week. Data on health, school
performance and social psychological wellbeing will be collected at pre (baseline) and post (endline)
tests and both control group and intervention group children are tested.
4.1 Path 1. Physical activity in udeskole, classroom teaching and PE
Measurement of physical activity
Measures of the amounts of physical activity among the children will be collected from different
schools, with an udeskole class (intervention) and a control class from one individual school being
measured once every month during the duration of the project, allowing for physical activity to be
measured and compared during all types of seasons. The children’s physical activity will be measured
from Monday to Friday including school days with and without school PE, and days with and without
udeskole. This will enable a comparison of weekly amounts of physical activity among children who
participate in udeskole (intervention group) with children who do not (control group), as well as
comparing days with and without udeskole (for the udeskole children). In this way children who have
Based on that 18% of schoolchildren are overweight (Pearson et al. 2005) and 8.4% of school children
receives special teaching/school support (Danish Ministry of Education).
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udeskole can function as their own control but can also be compared to a control group, regarding the
effects of udeskole on physical activity.
ActiTrainer accelerometer devices will be used to measure levels of physical activity by collecting
data on heart rate, calories used, steps taken, pace and distance of movements. Accelerometers are
physical activity monitors that provide precise measurement of children’s daily activity levels which
overcome children’s lack of ability to recall and quantify their physical activities in detail.
Accelerometers have been well validated in children against a range of outcomes (Ekelund et al.,
2001) and have shown to compare favourably with other similar objective measuring instruments (De
Vries et al., 2006) and have proved to be robust in epidemiological, fieldwork situations (Mattocks et
al., 2008). The ActiTrainer contains one megabyte of flash memory and is capable of storing up to 59
days worth of data in its most common configuration.
Physical measurements and health indicators
Height, weight and waist circumference are measured. Overweight will be estimated based on waist
height ratio as well as body mass index (BMI) using age and gender specific references (Cole et al.,
2000). The number of days with illness and school absence will be recorded. Finally, the children’s
motor functioning will be measured by the German ‘Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder’ (KTK) test
(Schilling, 2000). These measures of health will carried out as pre and post tests.
4.2 Path 2. School performance in the subjects Danish and Mathematics
Existing and widely used tests in the subjects Danish and Mathematics will be used as baseline and
endline measures of the children’s school performance levels. Both control group and intervention
group children are tested.
4.3 Path 3. Learning, competencies and experiences
As mentioned earlier udeskole may improve children’s ability to work co-operatively with others,
increase self-esteem, contribute to the development of language and develop children’s knowledge of
the environment, increase motivation and concentration. However, research on such topics is sparse
and knowledge about the impact of udeskole on children with special needs not existing.
One of the project’s biggest challenges is to develop methods and assessment tools that can intercept
other forms of learning than concrete testable academic performance as well as the changes in social
relations, motivation, well-being, attitudes and values that udeskole participation might cause.
Personal competencies, perceptions and social relations are however difficult to measure and require
different methodological approaches than documentation of school performances in concrete
academic knowledge.
Qualitative methods
Qualitative observations and interviews are central methods for exploring complex situations, personal
meanings and social interactions (Maaløe 1999, Flyvbjerg 2004). A strategically selected population
of 3 control and 3 intervention classes with practiced and experienced udeskole teachers (i.e. ‘good’
practice) will be observed using video and tape recordings. 3 days of observations is carried out in
each of the selected classes. Furthermore, 6 focus group interviews are carried out with girls and boys
respectively from the above selected udeskole classes and 2 of these focus group interviews will be
targeted at pupils who receive special needs education (i.e. special undervisning).
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These methods will focus on creating an understanding of what meaning and experiences children
develop from participating in udeskole compared to conventional school teaching and thereby create
an understanding of the possible potentials of udeskole regarding children’s learning and development
of personal and social competencies as well as their thriving.
Quantitative methods
Questionnaires has earlier shown also to be useful tools for exploring pupils’ experiences of social
relations and teaching environments when comparing indoor and outdoor teaching (e.g. Christiansen
et al. 2000, Mygind 2009). In this study questionnaire surveys will be used to supplement and ad
generalization to information gained through qualitative observations and interviews (Patton 2002)
and thereby help explain the impact of udeskole. A questionnaire that evaluates the social relations,
motivation, well-being, attitudes and values of the children will be developed based on former
research in the area as well as our theories and hypothesis. This questionnaire will be developed in
cooperation with Danmarks Evalueringsinstitut (http://www.eva.dk/grundskole). The questionnaires
will be handed out in the beginning of the school year (August) as well as at the end (May/June) to all
pupils in second to fifth grade in intervention and control classes.
5. Dissemination and publications
The extensive number of data collected is expected to give evidence and a more solid knowledge base
on which to base future decisions on whether and how udeskole should be an integrated part of the
Danish Folkeskole. In the ongoing debate about physical activity, inactive children and increasing
numbers being overweight and obese it is of relevance to know whether udeskole has something to
offer from a health point of view as a supplement to PE in school. Furthermore, with the increasing
numbers of children receiving teaching support (children with special needs), it is relevant to know
whether udeskole has anything to offer learning wise. Do all or some children learn more by receiving
teaching in the udeskole environment and by the use of teaching/learning methods used in udeskole?
Do they learn other and different skills than in ‘normal’ school? Are they more motivated for school
as a result of udeskole once per week?
Based on more insight into these important questions, school boards and politicians will have a better
foundation for making decisions for future curriculum changes. The results will be presented in
national as well as international peer reviewed journals, through seminars and at conferences.
Furthermore, the knowledge gained will be used in the education of future udeskole teachers and other
professionals in outdoor education such as park managers, rangers and outdoor guides.
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Erik Mygind is Associate Professor, PhD, MSc at Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen,
Education MSc Sport Sciences and Biology and PhD in Sport Sciences in 1993, University of Copenhagen.
Professional positionAssociate Professor. Since 1981, lecturer and head of the outdoor education program at the Department
of Exercise and Sport Sciences.
The main research focus in the past eight years has been on physical activity, bodily movement, teaching and social learning
in primary school (Danish Folkeskole). In continuation of the Rødkilde Project (2000-2003), which was a cross-scientific
study analyzing the effects of a weekly teaching day in nature surroundings, a new cooperation research network has been
established between the outdoor education (friluftsliv) section at the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Forest &
Landscape and N. Zahles Seminarium, CVU, Copenhagen (2006-2010). Another research area is development of training
and performance test methods in laboratory and field in endurance C-C skiers who prepare for the Vasa ski race in Sweden
The objectives relevant for the present application on Physcial activity and learning in udeskole are:
• Documentation, allocation and promotion of new potentials for the use of green areas
• To extend the learning surroundings and improve its potentials through outdoor teaching in green areas
• To show others ways of learning in the primary and intermediate school related to green areas
• To describe and understand how children, teachers and parents experience and evaluate udeskole
Glen Nielsen is PhD. Candidate and Research Fellow at the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences,University of
Copenhagen. Research area: Sociology of physical activity and sports.
Education MSc in Sport Sciences and Psychology, University of Copenhagen (2004). 2 year graduate course in Human and
Social Sport Sciences. Master thesis and research project about barriers to children’s physical activity in association with the
“Ballerup Project”.
Professional position Currently employed as a PhD student and research assistant at the Department of Exercise and Sport
Sciences, University of Copenhagen. Doing research on children’s daily physical activity, using accelerometer and
questionnaire data as well as qualitative observation, sociological theory and statistical modelling. Former manager of the
project; “[email protected]”, Folkesundhed København. Developing and leading this project on increasing the level of
children’s physical activity in school time. Former research assistant on the APPLE Study, at the University of Otago,
collecting and analysing accelerometer, anthropometrical and questionnaire data for this pilot study on childhood obesity
prevention. Other roles included: educating activity coordinators, creating and maintaining contact with parents, developing
intervention strategies and materials.
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Making Pedagogy of Friluftsliv – a Fusion with an Unpredictable Result
Dr Erik Backman
Stockholm University, Department of Education in Arts and Professions, Sweden
[email protected]
The Scandinavian outdoor practice friluftsliv is associated with values such as: health, environmental
awareness, experiences of nature, cultural landscape perspectives, non-competition, ecology,
folksiness, simplicity, mindfulness and resistance towards commercialism and consumption. Despite
its primarily recreational character as a leisure practice, friluftsliv also has a long tradition as an
educational element in childrens’ and young peoples’ schooling in Scandinavia. Making pedagogy of
recreational outdoor leisure practices is a wide spread international phenomenon. This paper
addresses the result of transforming friluftsliv into pedagogy in a context of Physical Education (PE)
and in the education of PE teachers in Sweden. The results from interviews with teachers and teacher
educators in the PE context as well as from text analysis of PE curriculum documents shows that
several of the values associated with Scandinavian friluftsliv as a recreational leisure practice are
replaced by other values when being brought into school and education. The result of transforming
friluftsliv into pedagogy will be discussed from educational and sociological perspectives.
Teaching in the outdoors and in the countryside has a long tradition in the Swedish school (Carlgren &
Marton, 2003, p. 196-197). The outdoors, nature and environmental concerns are today all concepts
that occur in the general Swedish curriculum for both preschool, compulsory school, and in the
specific curriculum for science studies. It is therefore reasonable to assume that there are various
outdoor teaching practices that occur on different levels in Swedish schools. However, the
Scandinavian outdoor leisure practice friluftsliv is only stipulated in the curricula for PE (Physical
Education) (SNAE, 2000) and friluftsliv as an educational element in the Swedish school can
therefore be considered to belong to PE (Sundberg & Öhman, 2008). As with its international
equivalent in PE, outdoor education there is no consensus regarding the meaning of friluftsliv. Instead,
it is a word imbued with a multiple of values. In this paper I address the result of transforming
friluftsliv into pedagogy in a context of Physical Education (PE) and in the education of PE teachers in
My interest in examining friluftsliv as a part of PE and Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE)
in Sweden, has its origin in the observation that despite being one of few obligatory aims in Swedish
PE (SNAE, 2000), friluftsliv does not, paradoxically, seem to be thoroughly implemented in
compulsory and upper secondary school teaching (Al-Abdi, 1984; Backman, 2004; Svenning, 2001;
Quennerstedt et al., 2008). For a more thorough analysis and discussion of this condition I refer to my
thesis (Backman, 2010).
Values associated with Scandinavian friluftsliv
In addition to the values expressed in the official Swedish definition of friluftsliv, i.e. “Friluftsliv
means being outside, in the natural and cultural landscape for the purpose of well-being or to gain
experience of our natural surroundings with-out the demands of competition” (Swedish Ministry of
the environment, 2003), there are also others expressed in the literature. Although my paper concerns
the Swedish context, values associated with friluftsliv in Norway and Denmark are important to relate
to since the tradition of friluftsliv to some extent is mutual in the Scandinavian countries.
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The emphasis on environmental awareness in friluftsliv has been intensified by the Swedish
authorities during the last century with regularly intervals (Sandell, 2008, p. 96-99). One of these
expressions is The Right of Public Access 24 which has been claimed to have been of utmost
importance for the development of a sustainable environment (Sandell, 2009). Friluftsliv has also been
associated with simplicity and being able to mentally and physically detach oneself from civilization.
In Norway, the polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his back country skiing tour across Greenland in
1888 contributed to the Norwegian identity and culture (Tordsson, 2008, p. 56-57). Dahle (2007) also
suggests that the typical Norwegian friluftsliv such as long walks and ski tours made at weekends by
families and friends is practiced by common people. Further, values associated with simple friluftsliv
have also been described as in opposed position to values associated with adventure (Andkjær, 2008).
It has also been emphasized that friluftsliv should take place in a free and uncivilised nature, not
restricted by civilization (Tellnes, 1985). As a reaction against increasing consumption and
commercialism, there is also a part of friluftsliv that stresses a resistance towards these tendencies in
society. Sandell (2006) calls attention to the ambivalence involved in the fact that friluftsliv in many
ways is a counter-movement to the society it is at the same time a part of. Among the organizations
using friluftsliv as a method, the Scout movement has had the fostering of young peoples’ characters
as an important aim (Sandell & Sörlin, 2008, p. 27-45). Further, Faarlund (1978, 1994) have claimed
philosophical ideas of ecology and spiritual experiences that go beyond the basics of living in the
outdoors, as characteristics for Norwegian friluftsliv. Are these friluftsliv values also expressed in the
research of friluftsliv within the PE context?
Values associated with friluftsliv in Swedish PE
In accordance with the international literature on outdoor teaching practices in PE, friluftsliv in the
Swedish school context is claimed to contribute with values that differ to some degree from those
dominating PE. According to Sundberg and Öhman (2008) friluftsliv can “represent an alternative
movement culture, characterised by the joy of movement, sensibility and cooperation, where the
experience of nature is in focus” and could thereby be a “guide for other physical activities in PE” (p.
116, my translation). Sandell (2007) also suggests that the view of nature and environment mediated
through the teaching of friluftsliv is decisive for its potential to lead to environmental awareness.
There is some attention devoted to the pedagogical potential involved in knowledge of historical and
cultural perspectives on the landscape (Brügge & Sandell, 2007). Further, in contrast to the predetermined patterns of body-movement, and the focus on competition and physical achievements
characterising a significant part of the physical activities and sports offered to children today, it is
suggested that friluftsliv involves opportunities for more of open and non-predetermined encounters
with the body (Öhman & Sundberg, 2004). The potential of health involved in friluftsliv is emphasised
by Quennerstedt et al. (2007). Brügge et al. (2007) also highlights possibilities of integrating school
subjects when teaching friluftsliv. This is a pedagogical method that is said to involve the different
senses and thereby contribute to a deeper learning.
Almost all of the above mentioned values are also expressed in the international literature on outdoor
education and adventure education. I have found that values of risk, challenge, adventure and safety
are mentioned in relation to adventure education and a resistance to focus on technical skills and
movement skills is mentioned in relation to outdoor education. However, these expressions are not to
be found in literature on friluftsliv within Swedish PE. Based on the fact that there seem to be
The Right of Public Access is a non-legislated tradition, with its history back in the beginning of the 20th
century. It can be described as a confidence given to the Swedes, allowing them to make outings in their land
and countryside without many detailed restrictions.
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difficulties regarding the transformation of friluftsliv from curriculum documents into actual teaching,
there is reason to explore what occurs during this transformation. Perhaps some of the difficulties
proven to surround teaching in friluftsliv and other outdoor practices on a school level can be made
more comprehensible in the light of education in friluftsliv within PETE?
Values associated with friluftsliv in Swedish PETE
From Larsson’s (2009) study, friluftsliv appears to occupy a position apart from other elements in
Swedish PETE. In interviews with students as well as PE teacher educators, friluftsliv is expressed as
one of the most positive values in the education (p. 147 & p. 251-253). However, Larsson claims the
education in friluftsliv to be more of an investment in the individual project rather than adapted to the
future profession of a PE teacher.
… the respondents’ expressions of friluftsliv do not include knowledge useful for the
exercise of a future profession. Instead emphasis is put on the individual experience, to
try something new and exciting, a kind of personal development. (Larsson, 2009, p.
225, my translation)
It may be that the valuation of personal development within friluftsliv education is at the expense of
critical perspectives. Another observation from Larsson’s (2009, p. 225) study is that the students’
notion of education in friluftsliv is primarily about friluftsliv during winter and the skiing trips
included in the programme, an observation also confirmed by Backman (2007). In the friluftsliv
literature from most Swedish PETE departments, friluftsliv is discussed from social, philosophical,
ideological and educational perspectives (Brügge et al., 2007). Values such as: resistance towards
competition; cultural perspectives on the landscape; health and environmental awareness, can
therefore be considered to be a part of the education in friluftsliv within Swedish PETE. Many of the
departments also have literature of the “tips and advice” kind, recommending methods and technical
aspects of practising friluftsliv (Backman, 2010).
Several of the interviewed PE teacher educators in Larsson’s (2009) Swedish study suggest teaching
in friluftsliv to be unique in the sense that ”there is nothing that encourages the creation of gender
differences” (p. 162-163, my translation). The idea of outdoor teaching practices being more gender
neutral compared to other PE teaching practices is supported by Paechter (2006), however also
questioned by Dignan (2002) and Humberstone (2000). In fact, friluftsliv has been claimed to
contribute to notions of masculinity and associated with traditional masculine attributes (Humberstone
& Pedersen, 2001; Pedersen Gurholt, 2008).
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Summary of friluftsliv values from different contexts
Figure 1 is an attempt to illustrate the result of bringing together values emphasised within, firstly, the
literature on the Scandinavian tradition of friluftsliv, secondly the literature on friluftsliv within
Swedish PE and thirdly the literature and curriculum documents on friluftsliv within Swedish PETE.
Figure 1: Values expressed in the literature on the Scandinavian tradition of friluftsliv, in the literature
on friluftsliv within Swedish PE and in the literature and curriculum documents on friluftsliv within
Swedish PETE.
As seen from Figure 1, only a few of the expressed values within the three compared contexts are
synonymous with each other (those in the triangle). In fact, four of these (with environmental
awareness as an exception) are the values expressed in the official Swedish definition of friluftsliv
(Swedish Ministry of the Environment, 2003). There are several values that appear to be specific for
whether friluftsliv is discussed in the Scandinavian tradition, in PE or in PETE. This might be seen as
an expression of the dependency on context involved when bringing friluftsliv into school or into
higher education. Friluftsliv seems to be differently constructed in different contexts. Whether or not
the teaching of friluftsliv within Swedish PE and in Swedish PETE actually involves the values
expressed, is an empirical question on which I hope my results can shed some light. The answer to this
question will most likely depend on the conditions of its implementation.
Investigating friluftsliv teaching within Swedish PE
As discussed in the review of research above, the conceptual understanding of friluftsliv is strongly
contextually dependent. Building on Figure 1, Figure 2 is an attempt to illustrate how the values
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expressed in results from my investigation of friluftsliv within Swedish PE relate to the values
expressed in the literature on friluftsliv within Swedish PE.
Figure 2: A comparison between the values expressed in the literature on friluftsliv within Swedish PE
and values expressed in the empirical investigations of friluftsliv within PE.
On a comprehensive level, there are several values expressed in the literature on friluftsliv within PE
which are not expressed in my results, and vice versa. It seems as though the values expressed in the
official Swedish definition of friluftsliv (Swedish Ministry of the Environment, 2003; see the triangle)
are not to be found in the PE teachers’ description of their teaching of friluftsliv. Swedish PE teachers
seem to be unfamiliar with making their own interpretations of how “environmental awareness”,
“experiences of nature”, “cultural perspectives on the landscape”, “holistic learning”, and “nonpredetermined body encounters” can be expressed in documents and teaching. It is also astonishing
that “health” is not expressed as a value in friluftsliv in my investigations, especially since it is a part
of the Swedish name of the school subject PE as “Idrott och hälsa” (Sport and Health). Perhaps this is
due to the fact that many Swedish PE teacher students have their background in the Swedish sports
movement (Annerstedt, 1991; Larsson, 2009) and there developed a rational and instrumental way of
thinking about body movement, health and ability in PE.
When addressed at all, friluftsliv becomes a teaching practice in which the logic and grounds for
assessment do not seem to differ significantly from other traditional outdoor sport activities in the PE
teaching. There also seem to be many requirements of a physical and organizational character to fulfil
for teaching in friluftsliv to be considered legitimate. When described as in my results, friluftsliv
becomes an exception from ordinary teaching, a project that is probably difficult for PE teachers to
implement themselves. As expressed in the values emphasized in the Scandinavian tradition of
friluftsliv, several elements of an ideological nature, involving alternative lifestyles in modern society,
could contribute with new perspectives to the friluftsliv taught within Swedish PE.
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Investigating friluftsliv teaching within Swedish PETE
Teacher education is claimed to be an important contributor to the production of pedagogic discourses
(Macdonald et al., 1999; Singh, 2002). Tinning (2006, p. 381) suggests that the guarding of positions
within PETE leads to the obstruction of openness towards new perspectives and a reproduction of a
restrictive and conservative attitude. When considering research in which teacher education in general
(Hensvold, 2003; Lortie, 1975; Marton & Booth, 1997) and PETE in particular (Annerstedt &
Bergendahl, 2002; Larsson, 2009) is claimed to have marginal importance for what is expressed in the
teaching on a school level, it seemed interesting to investigate what an exploration of education in
friluftsliv within PETE could say of its relationship to the friluftsliv teaching within Swedish
compulsory school.
Figure 3: A comparison between the values expressed in the literature and curriculum doc-uments on
friluftsliv within Swedish PETE and values expressed in Papers III and IV.
Figure 3 is an attempt to describe the relationship between the values expressed in the literature and
curriculum documents on friluftsliv within Swedish PETE and the values discovered in my empirical
investigations of friluftsliv education within Swedish PETE. On a comprehensive level, the findings in
my results correspond well with the values expressed in the literature and the curriculum documents.
While exploring friluftsliv within PETE, I discovered that the debates concerning the legitimate
education in friluftsliv could be resembled to a field involving struggles for objectively defined
positions (Bourdieu, 1993). I reached this interpretation based on the PE teacher educators’ emphasis
on different values associated with friluftsliv education. My interpretation was that some of the values
made visible appeared as a consequence of the fact that the context studied was under the influence of
the different logics inherent in the academic field, the field of sport and in the Scandinavian tradition
of friluftsliv. I found it contradictory that Swedish PE teacher students are examined in the practical
and technical skills seen to be required to perform activities in friluftsliv while they are,
simultaneously, taught about the experience of nature as the essence of friluftsliv. The importance of
skills to perform physical activities is an issue of constant debate in Swedish PETE. This ability is
often emphasised as the essence of the professional PE teacher’s identity but at the same time, the
academic acceptance of examining physical skills is not obvious, a condition creating ambivalence
among Swedish PE teacher educators (Larsson, 2009, p. 140-148).
One part of the explanation of this ambivalent attitude might be found within a tradition in Swedish
PE focusing the performance of “correct” body movements as an important ability per se. In the
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friluftsliv education within Swedish PETE, technical and predetermined skills required to perform
outdoor activities appear to be valuable. I suggest that a supplement to the discussion of the
importance of skills in performing physical activities in the outdoors could be viewing them as one of
several abilities needed to teach body movements. If the ability to teach movements in the outdoors is
primarily focused, this might also involve a reassessment of the role of the skill-instructor in PE (see
Thomas, 2007). An inclusive approach within PE could mean viewing body movements not as
hierarchic, predetermined or correct, but instead as a plurality of equal opportunities. Similarities can
be seen with the way Öhman and Sundberg (2004) discuss open and non-predetermined encounters
with the body through friluftsliv.
Another contradiction was found in the valuation of friluftsliv taught in a remote wilderness (for
example on skiing trips) with a certain focus on physical exertion and specialized knowledge, while
simultaneously the respondents claimed this type of friluftsliv to be difficult to implement on a school
level. Further, the PE teacher educators thought that friluftsliv should be a simple, unaffected and pure
life close to nature without too many modern and technical aids. I have referred to these positions
within PETE as exclusive friluftsliv and genuine friluftsliv respectively. These positions can also be
reflected in the valuation of students’ enthusiasm for friluftsliv and their personal development. It
appears reasonable to assume that the friluftsliv teaching within Swedish PE has to a certain extent
been shaped during education in friluftsliv within PETE.
Friluftsliv teaching in Swedish PE is produced in a fusion between the formulations of aims for
friluftsliv in curriculum documents, the biographies of PE teacher students and their educators,
physical and organisational factors’ control of PE teaching in the outdoors, the values emphasised in
the friluftsliv taught within PETE, and the values associated with the Scandinavian tradition of
friluftsliv. This fusion has produced the notion of friluftsliv in PE as teaching which should take place
in a natural setting remote from civilisation, involve risks, and require time, technical equipment,
financial resources, and cooperation. With this pedagogic discourse as the frame of reference, the
teaching of friluftsliv is difficult to implement and is instead, under the influence of performance and
perfection codes (Evans & Davies 2006a, 2006b), transformed into outdoor activities with which the
PE teachers are familiar and can themselves recognise (often sports), or is totally left out of PE
teaching. I have argued that the offering of friluftsliv teaching according to the aims in the national
Swedish PE curriculum would benefit from a turn to a friluftsliv that is experienced as unthinkable
(Bernstein, 2000) in relation to the dominant pedagogic discourse. This would also result in a
strengthening of the classification of friluftsliv and Swedish PE.
Friluftsliv education in Swedish PETE is a site for struggles regarding what values are regarded as
legitimate. I have considered the values expressed in this context as a consequence of the influence of
the different logics inherent in the academic field, the field of sport, and the Scandinavian tradition of
friluftsliv. The exclusive friluftsliv, carried out in a remote natural setting and requiring physical
exertion and special knowledge, and the genuine friluftsliv, a simple, unaffected and pure life close to
nature without too many modern and technical aids, are two variants considered valuable among PE
teacher educators. These types of friluftsliv appear to fit well into the ideas expressed here for
developing students as individuals and developing their enthusiasm and taste for friluftsliv through
experiences of nature during PETE. Physical and technical skills in outdoor activities have also been
considered a valuable physical capital for future PE teachers. As has been shown, these values in
friluftsliv education in PETE do not seem to be easily transferable to PE teaching in a school context. I
have argued for more of socially critical perspectives in Swedish PETE courses in general and in
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friluftsliv in particular, in order to make teaching according to the national Swedish PE curriculum
possible and for friluftsliv to contribute to more of environmental awareness, historical and cultural
understanding of the development of landscapes, and finally a questioning of our lifestyles in modern
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Hensvold, Inger (2003). Fyra år efter examen: hur förskollärare erfar pedagogiskt arbete och
utbildningens spår. Doctoral dissertation, Lärarhögskolan, Stockholm.
Humberstone, Barbara (2000). The ”Outdoor Industry” as Social and Educational Phenomena: Gender
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1(1), 21-35.
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and Norway. Sport, Education and Society, 6(1), 23-33.
Larsson, Lena (2009). Idrott och helst lite mer idrott. Doctoral dissertation, Stockholms Universitet.
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Activity Field at the School/University Interface. European Physical Education Review,
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Pedersen Gurholt, Kirsti (2008). Norwegian friluftsliv and ideals of becoming an ‘educated man’.
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Lund: Studentlitteratur.
Erik Backman is a PhD in Educational Sciences in Arts and Professions. He works at The Department of Education in Arts
and Professions at Stockholm University. His research interests concerns: Friluftsliv, Physical Education, Physical Education
Teacher Education and sociology of education.
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Into the Backwash of Kayak Adventures
Leif Inge Magnussen
Norwegian School of Sports Science, Norway
[email protected]
The scope of this essay is to explore the meaning that Norwegian kayakers form in engagement with
and reflections upon uncertainty, risk and resistance. Kayaking adventures are found not only on long
journeys, but in risk itself, in the exposure to wind, currents and waves found in a sea kayak
community in the outskirts of the Oslofjord. The lecture refers to ethnographic fieldwork and
participation-observation conducted in these communities. In meetings with wind and waves kayakers
report that they improve their skills, but this is secondary to the experience of flow and joy, and
reflections on the necessity of being humble in order to survive. This is seen as edgework, being and
out of control, and a valuable part of learning processes.
Key words: Bildung, Edgework, Friluftsliv, Kayak, Risk
Leif Inge Magnussen is working in the field of “friluftsliv” at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, Norway. His
research explores and describes how learning processes and meanings are formed by participants in a non-scholastic learning
environment, in outdoor communities of practice. His outdoor practices are concerned with professional assessment and
training in mountaineering, skiing and climbing, and more recently, sea kayaking.
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Re-envisioning nature from a New Zealand Māori perspective
Dr Mike Boyes
University of Otago, School of Physical Education, Dunedin, New Zealand
[email protected]
Many of the traditional practices and assumptions that have underpinned outdoor education are
anthropocentric. These include the role of risk and adventure, the emphasis on individualism and
personal development, a focus on skill learning and the pervasion of consumerism. Coupled with the
neoliberal policies of Western governments, these discourses can be seen to perpetuate the status quo
and work against environmentally sustainable living. Yet outdoor educators are in a unique position
to influence their students towards sustainability.
This paper examines the traditional philosophies and values of Māori, the indigenous occupants of
New Zealand and how these philosophies can provide an eco-centric framework for outdoor
educators. The inextricable interconnection of whānau (people) and whenua (land) is expressed in
personal and kinship relationships with all natural things. This provides tūrangawaewae, a sense of
place and belonging from which the life force (mauri) exudes. Examples of how these ideas are
implemented in tertiary outdoor education programmes are presented.
There is a plethora of information documenting the contemporary disjuncture between humanity and
nature (see Gruenewald, 2003; L. H. Hill & Johnston, 2003; LeFay, 2006). Instead of embracing
connection to place, plant, creature, people and planet we see ourselves as separate, superior and
controlling. Our political and social exploitation of the natural environment has created problems that
threaten the foundations of our existence. The inexhaustible drive of the global competitive
marketplace is unsustainable, threatening the viability of natural systems (Bowers, 2002).
Outdoor education in many ways has been guilty of being complicit in reinforcing patterns of thinking
that exacerbate the crisis. Bowers (2002), identifies the prevalence of taken-for-granted cultural
assumptions (root metaphors) that are encoded in language and allow the embrace of certain
relationships while suppressing others. These serve to reinforce neoliberal philosophy as the status
quo, with globalised principles of the free market and consumerism dominant and seemingly
unstoppable (Apple, 2009) .
Outdoor education in a traditional sense has been associated with specific outdoor pursuits like rock
climbing and tramping, that largely originate from white male European recreational patterns (Payne
& Wattchow, 2008). Consistent with a Hahnian approach, adventure and challenge and the embrace of
risk have been seductive. The importance of skill learning plus personal and social development
through group and team building is well established and lip service is given to environmental beliefs
and values (Boyes & Zink, 2005; A. Hill, 2010). These dimensions serve to support anthropocentrism,
promote individualism and consumerism, and misconstrue place.
Anthropocentrism has been identified as human chauvinism where nature is reduced to an exploitable
resource (Bowers, 2002). Humans are seen as separate from and often superior to nature.
Anthropocentrism can be clearly seen in risk taking behaviour where people pit themselves against a
self selected challenge provided by the environment. Giddens (2006) and Beck (1992) describe
modern society as a globalised risk society where the pursuit of risk becomes a key structural principle
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extending through the social system in patterns of economic, political, cultural and leisure activity.
Risk taking is valued as:(1) a pure expression that sees risk as an essential part of modern life; and (2)
as a radical form of escape from social conditions that deaden the human spirit (Lyng, 2005). In
leisure, this is epitomised in the activities of extreme sport.
Extreme sport is an expression coined by the media to describe forms of outdoor adventure activities
that are owned by youth subcultures and valorised by the global media. Risk engagement and dramatic
action are fundamental, with individuals competing against environmental obstacles and challenges,
with the main goal being the completion of exceptional tasks (Booth & Thorpe, 2007). Mountains,
rivers and surf are seen as resources existing for human consumption. Extreme sport activities draw on
existing forms of outdoor pursuits sometimes with innovative variations. Its importance can be gauged
by television and U-tube ratings, large spectator appeal and control by wealthy multinational
companies. The activities also have a high degree of dependency on technology, paraphernalia and
consumption of the spectacle as a product. Concerningly, the environment does not figure in the
extreme sport literature; for example the Berkshire Encyclopaedia of Extreme Sport (Booth & Thorpe,
2007), does not have an entry for environment. This flaw has been discussed in detail by Brymer,
Downey & Gray (2009), who counter-argue that participants develop strong feelings of connection to
the environment. However, they ignore the larger perspective of the ruling ideas espoused at societal
Individualism is closely linked to extreme sport and is a facet of neoliberalism and the free market.
The individual is endorsed as the basic social unit in society with an emphasis on personal choice,
advantage and responsibility for self. Self interest is promoted over the interests of community and the
tenor of moral authority has moved from community values to the valorisation of the globalised
individual (Bowers, 2002; Gruenewald, 2003). The relocation of values is a pre-requisite for a
successful free market with individuals as unquestioning and unbridled consumers. In outdoor
education, the goals of risk, adventure, personal development and vocational goals are driven by
individualism (Hill, 2010).
The commodification of adventure and individualism contribute to consumerism; the rights of the
individual to consume are normalised. As well as outdoor activities themselves, the prevalence of
outdoor clothing, images and other paraphernalia is predominant in western society. The process of
commodification often includes distinctive places; mountains, cultural icons, beaches and places that
are viewed from a mechanistic, economic perspective. At best, environments are wallpaper, at worst
they are plundered and modified on need. For example Mitre Peak in NZ is a magnificent mountain
located in a seemingly pristine fjord. But a look in the immediate reverse direction shows the reality of
buses, planes, boats, hotels, waste, asphalt and people that provide the commodified infrastructure for
the view (Abbott, 2010).
The problems created by the intensive consumption of resources are many. For a start, our present
progress is unsustainable, with a rapid decline in the viability of natural systems (Bowers, 2002). We
are faced with a tragic loss of species and massive waste disposal problems. Our world view:
“...erroneously separates and elevates humans above physical reality, and alienates humans from life,
the earth and the cosmos.” (Hill & Johnstone, 2003, p. 21). Bowers (2002), also notes our dependence
on the values of consumerism rather than family and networks of mutual support within our
Bowers (2002) proposed that ecology should become a pervasive cultural understanding that drives
our philosophy and practice. He believes we need to: (1) appreciate the relational and interdependent
nature of our existence as cultural beings; (2) shape our children’s experiences by engagement with
cultural traditions of empowerment, self sufficiency and social justice; (3) value forms of knowledge
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that come from direct experience of negotiating social and environmental relationships in everyday
life; (4) value intergenerational knowledge and the wisdom of elders and mentors; and (5) learn about
the non-commodified traditions of ethnic minorities.
Likewise, Gruenewald (2003), proposed a critical pedagogy of place so that the education of citizens
would have a direct bearing on the wellbeing of the social and ecological places people inhabit. He
challenges people to explore the complex inter-relationships between cultural and ecological
environments and in particular to explicitly examine the place specific nexus between environment,
culture and education. Both Bowers and Gruenewald, lay the foundation to explore the contribution
that indigenous philosophy can contribute to modern sustainable living.
Māori Beliefs and Values
Like most indigenous peoples, traditional Māori civilisation lived in close proximity with the land and
lifestyles were intrinsically linked to natural features. Māori have a fundamental belief that humans
are part of a broader understanding of family that incorporates the environment and humanity, where
all things are interconnected. This is clearly seen in the Māori legend of creation where there is belief
in the oneness of environment, ancestors and people.
Originally Papatūānuku (the earth mother) & Ranginui (the sky father) were together in a loving and
fruitful embrace. Their children were between them, but were shut off from the light and unable to
grow. The children separate their parents, creating an open environment in which all could flourish.
The children became the ancestors of humans and all other living things; hence Tane-mahuta is the
god of trees and birds, Tangaroa the parent of fish in the sea and others. People are living on the
fruitful living body of the earth mother & beneath the living sky father. Natural features like streams,
rivers and forests, arise from and are nurtured by Papatūānuku. Rain for instance, is a sign of the aroha
(love) between Rangi and Papa and their grief at being separated. The relationship is exemplified in
the proverb: Ko Papatūānuku to tatou whaea, Ko ia te matua atawhai, He orange mo tatou, I roto i te
moengaroa, Ka hoki tatou ki te kopu o te whenua (The land is our mother, she is the loving parent, she
nourishes and sustains us, when we die she enfolds us in her arms). (Roberts, Norman, Minhinnick,
Wihongi, & Kirkwood, 1995). We are surrounded by our cousins, who are also our ancestors.
Māori also believe that all things have mauri, which has been defined as a life force or essence, and is
something to be nurtured and protected ( (Mead, 2003; Patterson, 1992). When applied to people it is
the spark of life, the active component that indicates the person is alive. Inanimate objects like
mountains, rocks and man-made craft like weaving also have mauri that relates to and interacts with
everything else. In New Zealand, there has been an interesting debate over mountain peaks and
whether climbers should stand on the summit. For many pakeha there is no question that the top is the
top and they have not been there unless they stand on it. However for Māori the mountain peaks are
likely to be gods, sacred, and embedded in mythology. At the very least a mountain possesses mauri
that must be respected. Hence accessing the mountain needs to be accompanied by karakia (prayer)
and respect and standing on the very summit may be an insult. The logic follows that because all
things are an ancestor and have mauri, then we must treat the earth with care, like we would our
human family, and nourish and respect it so it may flourish (Patterson, 1999).
In effect, Māori see themselves as tangata-whenua (people of the land) and this concept refers to those
who belong and have authority in a particular place. This is based on their deep relationship with that
place, often through birth and their ancestors’ births. Significantly, whenua (land) is also the word for
placenta and links life to the womb of Papatūānuku. A commonly practised Māori tradition is to bury
the placenta and umbilical of a new child on land of personal significance. Some will plant a native
tree on the burial spot to celebrate the event and increasing numbers of non-Māori have also
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undertaken this ritual. Subsequently, new family members are bonded to the land. It is likely that
deceased family members are also buried in/near that place so ancestors and children have a common
belonging to a specific place. These primeval connections provide mana whenua (status on the land),
spiritual and moral authority in a given place.
Generations are not separated as they are in Western society and the ancestral landscape emphasises
the centrality of ancestors and the values that guide present and future generations. Ko nga tohu o o
ratou tapuwae i kakahutia ki runga i te mata o te whenua – he taonga, he tapu. (Their sacred footprints
are scattered over the surface of the land, treasured and sacred) (Kawharu, 2009, p. 324). Kawharu
also discusses the importance of spiritual and cultural values linking people to a specific place. He
feels that tangible and intangible values help explain relationships between people and environment,
“... their reverence for places and the reasons why trusteeship is important.” (ibid, p.321).
On a personal level, tūrangawaewae (turanga – standing; waewae – feet) provides a place for one to
stand where a person feels especially empowered, connected and founded (Mead, 2003, p. 272).
Personal identification through tūrangawaewae will link a person with the predominant natural
features and ancestors of a specific place. If I introduce myself in Māori I would say: Ko Ruapehu te
maunga, Ko Rangitikei te awa, Ko Mātene te taone (Mount Ruapehu is my mountain, the Rangitikei
river is my river and my town is Marton). The mountains and rivers provide an internal sense of
security and foundation as well as a geographical location. Mead (ibid) also believes that in a modern
globalised society all people need a place to call their own, and land/place is important for people to
define themselves.
As discussed earlier, Māori believe they and the world are bound together by ties of kinship and
people must accept the associated responsibilities (Patterson, 1999). Everything in the universe has its
own whakapapa (genealogy), that is part of the unified whole. Tūrangawaewae means people standing
on the place to which they belong; they have mana (status) in that place, and take responsibility for
their actions and are responsible for that place. Because of the strengths of whanaungatanga (extended
family relationships & belonging), the responsibility is a collective one where the community accepts
responsibility as well as the individual. The relationship may be deeply spiritual in that land nourishes
our spiritual being and physical needs, provides our identity and reciprocation is essential. If we fail to
do this, our mana-whenua, our status in that place and our right to be a kaitiaki (steward), is lost or
suffers (Patterson, 1999).
Mana-whenua promotes kaitiakitanga (guardianship) which describes the mantle of responsibility
worn by tangata whenua to promote the care and protection of taonga (treasure) such as waters, coasts,
flora and fauna, forests, mountains, the earth and the sky (Blundell, 2006). Within takiwā (specific
locations), iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) have responsibilities to ensure the maintenance and
sustenance of Papatūānuku and her children. This worldview is not based on ownership, but on the
understanding that all life is created from Papa and supported by her. The fulfilment of these
obligations is crucial to the identity and mana of the local iwi authority (a Māori group with statutory
rights), and includes the sustainable use of natural resources. In New Zealand, the recognition of a
Māori world view and kaitiakitanga is enshrined in law and practiced on a daily basis. For instance,
the Treaty of Waitangi (a foundational document signed by Māori and Europeans in 1840), gives full,
exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries and other properties
to Māori. More importantly, subsequent legislation like the Environment Act 1986, the Local
Government Act 2002 and the Resources Management Act 1991, officially placed kaitiakitanga into
legislation and required hapū and iwi to be involved in the management of all natural resources (for a
fuller discussion see Blundell, 2006).
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In summary, the legend of Papatūānuku and the interconnection of all living and non-living things is a
valuable ethical foundation for sustainability. If we treat the earth with the care and respect we show
to a parent and are prepared to be guardians and stewards of it we are reconnecting with the
interdependent nature of our existence. The recognition that all things have mauri (life essence) also
leads to respectful relationships. As individuals, we are spiritually nourished by knowing we have a
rightful place on the earth and knowing well the specific places where we belong. Turangawaewae (a
place to stand) comes with moral commitments to take full responsibility for the wellbeing of the
features and organisms within that place. If we embrace these beliefs as an ideology, we may save the
earth and be truly called tangata-whenua (people of the land).
Infusing Māori Values in Tertiary Courses
In the School of Physical Education at the University of Otago, we have a number of courses in
outdoor education all of which include Māori philosophies, values and components to varying
degrees. Some courses are practically oriented, others are theoretical. For instance PHSE 231 is a
selection of outdoor practicals of which waka ama (Māori canoeing) is one. PHSE 104 Applied
Physical Experiences explores Māori culture through Ngā mahia a te rehia - waiata and haka (song &
dance). Another course, PHSE 416 Adventure, Environment and Society, adopts a critical theory
perspective to adventure and the environment. The aims are: (1) To critique the theoretical
frameworks, paradigms and literature underpinning outdoor education practice, and to develop a
philosophy to understand the various relationships existing between humans and the natural
environment; (2) To explore personal relationships with nature, especially with respect to sociocultural and socio-historical influences upon ecological consciousness and worldview; (3) To facilitate
an environmentally focused activity and to experience a range of such activities facilitated by others;
(4) To investigate an environmental issue related to outdoor education or adventure.
In terms of taha Māori, the overall intention is to acquaint the students with elements of Māori
language (te reo Māori) and the customs and traditions of Māori (tikanga Māori). Our course
components are informed by Māori knowledge and specific activities are infused within the courses.
Specific components may include: (1) seashore studies (tapātai whakatewhatewha); (2) Maori
medicinal plants (rongoa Māori); (3) food preparation (hangi); (4) Flax weaving (harakeke); (5) kite
flying (whakaro taratahi); (6) song (waiata & haka); and (7) canoeing (waka ama). Within these
activities, a strong theme of critical engagement in environmental debates occurs and Māori wisdom is
infused wherever possible.
Harakeke (flax) weaving is a good example. Harakeke is seen not just as a plant, it is a descendant of
Tane-Mahutu. In keeping with Māori philosophy, a small karakia (prayer) is said before gathering
leaves. The mauri (life force) of the plant is acknowledged; the welfare of the plant and the weavers is
embraced. Strict protocols exist in the gathering of harakeke. The bush grows in a fan like pattern,
likened to a family group. The middle leaves are the future of the plant and termed the rito (baby) and
awhi roto (parent) and are never taken. Rather, the leaves are only taken from the outside; the tupuna
(grandparents). Sustainable harvesting is ensured and the relationship of the plant to Papatūānuku.is
embraced. Additionally, the mauri (life force) is recognised in another way; the leaves must be used
wisely for a worthwhile outcome. In the words of a weaver: Once I have taken it from where it
belongs, I must give another dimension to its life force so that it is still a thing of beauty.” (Patterson,
1992, p. 18). The flax harvesting is linked to its end use, not separated as in the commercial harvesting
of trees.
There are some very relevant eco-centric environmental messages in the Māori worldview. Māori
philosophy, local knowledge and ecological practices are a source of wisdom for sustainable
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environmental use and conservation in New Zealand. The indigenous knowledge of the Māori is living
and contemporary and not a romanticised artefact from days of old. It is practiced on a daily basis by
Māori and Pakeha (European) alike and enshrined in the laws of New Zealand. For Māori, it is a way
of life, for non-Māori the concepts can provide a basis for environmental ideals that challenge
consumerism and empower eco-justice.
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Payne, P. G., & Wattchow, B. (2008). Slow pedagogy and placing education in post-traditional
outdoor education. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 12(1), 25-38.
Roberts, M., Norman, W., Minhinnick, N., Wihongi, D., & Kirkwood, C. (1995). Kaitiakitanga: Māori
perspectives on conservation. Pacific Conservation Biology, 2(1), 1-23.
Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand Papatūānuku's children. Retrieved from
Mike Boyes is a Senior Lecturer in Outdoor Education at the School of Physical Education at the University of Otago,
Dunedin, New Zealand. He has published widely in outdoor education journals and made numerous conference
presentations. He holds a number of outdoor instructor awards and is the current national Chairperson of Outdoors NZ and
the Chairman of the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council research committee.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Nature in Outdoor Learning-Observations from the Well-being and
Outdoor Pedagogies project
Dr Barbara Humberstone and Dr Ina Stan
Buckinghamshire New University, United Kingdom
[email protected]
This paper draws upon research undertaken for the Well-being and Outdoor Pedagogies project and
previous PhD research. These projects explored the processes of teaching and learning at one outdoor
residential education centre. Data were collected through ethnographic research and included
participant observation, interviews with teachers, parents, centre staff and group interviews with
pupils. Previous analyses of this research have highlighted a number of aspects of the experience such
as, for example, whilst the interviewed children reflected positively on the experience, the research
highlighted the importance of teachers’ interaction with the children in providing for democratic,
shared positive learning. The activities undertaken by the pupils included physical activities focusing
upon team work and problem solving, and activities which focused on exploring nature and the
natural environment which surrounded the residential centre. In this paper we look at the ways in
which the experience of the natural environment was made available to the pupils and the types of
activities which provided for specific engagement with the local natural environment. The dominant
philosophy of the residential centre is considered as are the ways in which nature and the natural
environment appear largely taken-for –granted.
Research Methodology
This paper is based on research conducted at a small UK residential outdoor centre as part of the Wellbeing and Outdoor Pedagogies project1, involving primary school children aged between 6-10, their
teachers, parents and centre staff. A qualitative approach was adopted, taking the form of an
ethnographic study, which was considered to be sensitive to the individual and to the social processes
(Davies, 1984; Griffin, 1985; Humberstone, 1986; Willis, 1977) in order to allow for an in-depth
understanding of the phenomena explored. This sensitivity of ethnography, its capability of capturing
the process in its wholeness ( Fetterman, 1989), the fact that it allows the researcher to have an insight
into other people’s experiences were factors that influenced the decision to use this approach in this
According to Denscombe (1983, p. 107), ethnography aims ‘to describe and explain the culture of a
social group and examine the circumstances in which this culture arises’. This research did not focus
on the outcome of the teaching process, measuring its efficiency, but rather it was mainly interested in
the customs and behaviour of the participants and, particularly, their understanding of the world in
which they lived (Denscombe, 1983). What resulted was thick or rich description (Geertz, 1973) of the
‘outdoor’ classroom, where data was presented in sufficient detail so as to allow the reader to visualise
the situation being described, in an attempt to give credibility to the research.
The interpretations made are not considered to be final, as the reader may have a different view of the
world represented, but they are informed by the observations in the field, the reflexive account as well
as the interviews, and integrated within the relevant theory. According to Hammersley and Atkinson
(1995), reflexivity is a significant feature of social research and they argue that all social research
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
takes the form of participant observation, because it involves participating in the social world, in any
role, and reflecting on the products of that participation. Reflexivity was achieved throughout this
research, by keeping a fieldwork diary, containing recordings of thoughts for the day, considerations
of the reasons behind reactions to certain situations or the reactions of the participants to the researcher
conducting the fieldwork, to the environment or towards one another. This process constituted an early
stage of data analysis (Fetterman, 1989; Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995).
Participant observation and semi-structured interviews have been used in order to collect a variety of
data, which is central to ethnographic research (Walford, 2001). The context in which this data was
collected was always taken into consideration when analysing and interpreting the data (Delamont,
2002). The fieldwork took place at a residential outdoor centre set in the English country side. The
observational data were collected over three years (2005, 2006 and 2008)2, mostly during the spring
and summer months, when most primary schools would take part in residential outdoor visit. This
type of data was recorded as the activities were taking place, using pen and notepads. These
instruments did not seem at all intrusive, and were very practical, inexpensive and easy to use. It was
felt that using more sophisticated equipment, such as a laptop or a video camera, would be rather
cumbersome and impractical. Also, using images had further implications on consent. Participants
soon got used to notes being taken all the time and they did not seem to mind it, most of the times they
completely forgot about it, as they were too involved in the activity. The interviews were audio
recorded and conducted toward the end of the fieldwork periods, when a strong rapport was build with
the participants.
A total of 16 different school groups were observed, during the three phases of data collection at the
centre. The groups came from ten schools, which means that, in some cases, there were two to four
different groups coming from the same school at different times. Most of the groups stayed for two
days and a half, either arriving on the Monday morning and leaving on Wednesday before lunch, or
arriving on the Wednesday morning and leaving on the Friday before lunch. There were two school
groups that stayed for five days, arriving on the Monday and leaving on the Friday, and one group that
only stayed for one day. The schools that visited the centre were not all the same; there were certain
differences with regard to the setting that they came from, i.e. rural or urban, but also with regard to
the ethnicity and social background of their pupils.
Ethical considerations
Ethical issues are central to ethnographic research and particularly so for this study since research
involved young children. The British Educational Research Association’s (BERA)3 ethical guidelines
for educational research underpinned the project. The research concerning this paper was conducted
overtly, with the informed consent of all the participants involved. The researcher, Ina Stan, carrying
out the data collection underwent a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, which is a legal
requirement for anybody working with young children. In order to protect the anonymity of the
participants, no real names of persons, places or institutions are used in this paper. Interviews were
conducted with pupils, parents, teachers and centre staff.
Before discussing the findings relevant to this paper a brief description of the research setting is given,
in order to help the reader contextualise the data and visualise the context.
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The Setting: the historical, environmental and organisational context
The outdoor centre is situated in the English countryside, set within 24 acres of private grounds, with
neighbouring farms and a few cottages. The local countryside provides interesting walks with plenty of
opportunities to take a closer look at the wildlife. There are rabbits everywhere, running frightened at the sound
of human steps, lazy pheasants, and the occasional deer. The house itself is a monument to history. Built in the
early 17th century, it is an old manor house and has its own ghost stories and plots. When a school group arrives
at the centre they are gathered in the red room. Two large paintings dominate the wall that the four rows of
chairs face. Children often ask about the man and the woman in each painting. This is when they are introduced
to the Red Lady who is the ghost of the manor. The ghost myth is perpetuated both by the staff and the visiting
pupils. Sometimes children would share stories about wardrobes moving and not being able to get a wink of
sleep because they were terrified of the Red Lady. Nevertheless, most of the pupils seemed to thrive on the
Children are told a little about the history of the house: it is 400 years old, so there are valuable things inside,
therefore no running is allowed inside. The house provides accommodation for 50 to 60 guests. It has large
meeting rooms and lounge areas all furnished in a traditional style. Outside there is plenty of room to run
around, there are green fields and two wooded areas. The smaller wooded area is close to the house and has
some rare trees and quite a lot of small creatures, this is the area where the activities in which the pupils are
encouraged to explore nature, such as ‘environmental senses’ and ‘creepi crawls’, are experienced.
The facilities also include a recently built low ropes course, a recreation centre with a heated pool, a campsite, a
wildlife pond, nature trails, an observatory and an all-weather floodlit games area these all offer scope for a
variety of learning experiences including training, environmental studies, team building exercises and sports.
There is also a fully adaptable sports hall/auditorium with a theatre stage with recording and rehearsal rooms.
The centre is a charity that accommodates school visits and corporate courses in order to sponsor programmes
involving youth at risk and disabled young people. The schools that attend are much involved in choosing the
activities and putting together the programme. Some of the activities are facilitated by the teachers, rather than
the staff at the centre, and schools are aware of this fact before coming to the centre.
Interactions, Activities and Nature
Previous analyses of observational data from both the early research and the Well-being and Outdoor
Pedagogies project and the subsequent publications have largely focused on the interactions between teachers,
facilitators and pupil and amongst pupils in which issues around power, empowerment and control in the
learning process are considered ( see Humberstone and Stan, 2010a; Stan, 2009; Stan and Humberstone , 2011).
Whilst, in addition, publications drawing upon interviews with teaching staff, facilitators, parents and pupils
have sought to make sense of the experience from a variety of participant’s perspectives and to understand
concepts such as well-being, safety and risk which emerge from the experience (see Humberstone and Stan,
2009; Humberstone and Stan, 2010b.
None of these analyses has considered in any detail the curriculum or content of the programme that the pupils
are presented with. Nor to any degree have the relationships of the children with the natural environment
surrounding the centre been examined. We have largely focused on the pedagogic experience and whilst nature
or the natural environment is central it has largely been taken for granted as given. This has often the case when
‘classroom’ interaction in the outdoors or outdoor learning is researched.
In light of the focus of this EOE conference, ‘Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education’,
and to redress the imbalance and the neglect of the environment in this work we draw attention to the
environmental experiences made available to the pupils and pupil’s engagement with the natural environment
together with some of the parents’ comments. Consequently, this paper draws attention, albeit briefly, to the
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
ways in which the outdoor experience examined in the research facilitates encountering, experiencing and
exploring nature.
The Centre’s Philosophy and Curriculum
The types of activities that are made available to the pupils who attended the centre are shown in
Appendix 1. This shows that of the twenty nine activities available, six can be identified as focusing
on nature and the natural environment these are as follows: environmental senses, creepi crawl, ghost
story/walk, shelter building, forest walk and pond dipping. Sixteen of the activities are categorised as
group or team orientated, emphasising the organisation’s prevailing philosophy which appears to place
great importance on team building and group work. According to one of the directors, group work,
teaching children to work together, is the central core of the work of the centre. When asked why he
thought this the director answered:
well, it reflects life and it’s not realistic to expect to move on into further education […]and
not work together as a team, not socialise, not um to be able to communicate, to work with …
to be sympathetic to peoples’ opinions and ideas, um, in their future, and that’s one of the
reasons why I feel very strongly that the national curriculum is not helping. (Paul-13.07.2005)
(Stan, 2008)
The emphasis of the centre was therefore largely concerned with social development, developing team
work and decision making skills. This emphasis can be seen in appendix 1 column 3 where the
majority of activities are seen as group interaction or team building events. However, the locations or
places in which much of this work occurred are located in the natural environment and, as shown in
the appendix 1 column 2, all but 6 or 7 of the varied activities were undertaken outdoors and in nature.
One example is the ‘creepi crawl’ activity. Directions to teachers are shown in appendix 2 . This
activity provides opportunities for the pupils to explore the nature around the site and to explore the
living creatures existing on the walk. Participation in creepi crawl is individualistic rather than group
orientated and has a high degree of teacher involvement. It is also an activity that is lead by the school
teacher rather than a member of the centre staff.
As identified previously (Humberstone and Stan, 2009;Stan and Humberstone, 2011) for teachers and
centre staff the safety of the pupils is a paramount consideration and this as we have shown previously
effected the ways in which the experience was interpreted and made available particularly by the
school teachers. Furthermore concepts of safety also effected the ways in which the natural
environment and the animals within could be ‘imagined’. The ‘creepi crawl’ guidance sheet (appendix
2) under safety states. ‘Remember to take special care near the pond’.
Engagement with nature
Observational data collected during the field work suggested that the pupils were eager to explore the
wooded and natural areas in the centre’s grounds in which the pond was located. However, in order to
scare the children from swimming in the pond there was a long standing story narrated that conjured
up an imaginary pigmy alligator contained in the pond. Not all the pupils are ready to believe the story
about the alligator:
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Susan (facilitator): […] Don’t swim in the pond! There’s an alligator.
Pg1: Is there?
Pg2: No there isn’t! (Field notes I, p. 3, 13.06.2005)
The story of the alligator or crocodile was quite a popular one, and some pupils would name it and
swear that they saw it. The staff at the centre actively encouraged the perpetuation of this myth. An
example of this is from observations at the pond and the pupils appear to be scared of it
Pg1: Does it (the crocodile) go on both sides?
They quietly look for it. They think they see it. Whispering.
Pg2: What should we call it?
They pupils choose a name. [They seem happy]. They see Jimmy (facilitator). They run
to tell him about the crocodile.
Jimmy: Wow, you are very lucky, it’s a really shy crocodile. (Field notes IV, p. 33-34,
In this episode above we see the myth of the crocodile being perpetuated. Whilst one of the most
dangerous elements for young children is water, we can ask a number of questions regarding the
veracity of this information given to the children and how and if this form of myth making helps
pupils to understand and engage with the natural environment. Certainly it is factually inaccurate as
crocodiles and alligators rarely live for long in UK water!!
Concluding Remarks
This paper has drawn attention to the taken-for grantedness of nature and the natural environment in
the provision of outdoor learning at one specific outdoor centre. However, it is important to note that
whilst only a few activities specifically made nature and its living creatures the focus of the learning
most of the activities were located in nature and wooded areas. At the very least, it could be argued
that pupils attending this centre were encountering, experiencing and exploring nature in a variety of
ways and that nature formed a bridge between their formal educational experiences and the non formal
educational experiences that were made available at the centre.
1. Ina Stan undertook her research for her PhD at the centre between 2005-2006. Ina Stan was
then funded as post –doc research assistant to Barbara Humberstone for the Well-being and
Outdoor Pedagogies project from monies obtained through funding obtained through the 2008
Research Activity Exercise.
2. Observational data were collected in 2005, 2006 and in 2008 as part of the Wellbeing and
Outdoor pedagogies project.
3. BERA ethical guidelines can be found at www.bera.ac.uk/ethics-and-educational-research-2/
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Davies, L. (1984) Pupil Power: Deviance and Gender in School. London: Falmer Press.
Delamont, S. (1983) Interaction in the Classroom: Contemporary Sociology of the School (2nd ed.).
London: Methuen.
Delamont, S. (2002) Fieldwork in Educational Settings: Methods, Pitfalls and Perspectives (2nd ed.).
London: Routledge.
Denscombe, M. (1983) Interviews, accounts and ethnographic research on teachers. In Hammersley, M. (ed.)
The Ethnography of Schooling, Driffield: Nafferston Books.
Fetterman, D.M. (1989) Ethnography – Step by Step. London: Sage Publications.
Geertz, C. (1973) Thick Description: Towards an Interpretive Theory of Culture. In C. Geertz (Ed.)
The Interpretation of Cultures: Selective Essays. New York: Basic Books.
Griffin, C. (1985) Typical Girls? Young Women from School to the Job Market. London: Routledge and Kegan
Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (1995) Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London: Routledge.
Humberstone B (1986). Outdoor Education - The Quality of the Learning Exerience.An Application of
Ethnographic Research Method. Trends and Developments in PE. Proceedings of the V111
Commonwealth and International Conference on PE, Dance, Recreation and Health.
(pp438-445) E & FN Spon.
Humberstone, B . and Stan, I. (2010a) Outdoor Learning: Pupils’ experiences and teachers’ interaction
in one outdoor residential centre, Education 3-13, International Journal of Primary,
Elementary and Early Years Education.(accepted)
Humberstone, B. and Stan, I. (2010b) Health, (Body) Image and Primary Schoolin Or ‘Why do they
have to be a certain weight’? ,Sport, Education and Society (accepted).
Humberstone, B. and Stan, I. (2009) Well-being and Outdoor Pedagogies in Primary Schooling, The
nexus of well-being and safety. Australian Journal Outdoor Education 13(2): 24-32
Stan, I. (2008) Group Interaction in the ‘Outdoor Classroom’: The Process of Learning in Outdoor
Education, Unpublished PhD thesis, Buckinghamshire New University/ Brunel University.
Stan, I. (2009) Recontextualising the Role of the Facilitator in Group Interaction in the Outdoor
Classroom, Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning 9(1), pp. 23-43.
Stan, I. and Humberstone, B. (2011) An Ethnography of the Outdoor Classroom – How Teachers
Manage Risk in the Outdoors, Education and Ethnography
Barbara Humberstone PhD is Professor of Sociology of Sport and Outdoor Education and Director of the Outdoor Learning
and Experiential Education research Unit. She is past chair of the European Institute for Outdoor Education (EOE) 20042008. She is editor of a number of books including Whose Journeys? The Outdoors and Adventure as Social and Cultural
Phenomena (2003) and has published a number of book chapters and journal articles. She is managing editor of the Journal
of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Appendix 1 – Paradigm Worksheet: Analysis for Kinds of Activities
Conducted by
Large area on centre grounds, outdoors
Team building, competitive exercise
Centre staff / visiting teachers
Parachute games
Small area of centre grounds, indoors or
Enclosed activity area on centre grounds,
Enclosed activity area on centre grounds,
Specific wooden area of centre grounds or at a
nearby centre, outdoors
Small area of centre grounds or at a nearby
centre, indoors or outdoors
Specific wooded area of centre grounds,
Specific barbeque area of centre grounds,
The Centre’s sports Hall, indoors
The Centre’s swimming pool, indoors
Group interaction, fun orientated
Low ropes course
Blind string trail
Environmental senses
Creepi crawl
Campfire activities
Sport hall games
Spider’s web
Krypton puzzles
Scavenger Hunt
Eggs can fly
Toxic waste
Recording studio
Connect force
Ghost story / walk
Poisoned ground
Shelter building
Diary writing
Forest walk
Pond dipping
Raft building
Astroturf games
Enclosed activity area on centre grounds,
Small area on centre grounds, indoors or
Large area on centre grounds, outdoors or
inside the centre building
Small area on centre grounds indoors or
The cellar of the centre building, indoors
Enclosed activity area on centre grounds,
The centre’s recording studio, indoors
Large area of centre grounds, outdoors or in the
centre building, indoors
A grotto, outdoors or the centre building,
Enclosed activity area on centre grounds,
Large wooden area on centre grounds, outdoors
The centre’s Sport Hall, indoors or enclosed
area, outdoors
The nearby forest, outdoors
The centre’s pond, outdoors
The centre building, indoors
Small area on centre grounds, outdoors and the
swimming pool
Outside the centre’s grounds, indoors
Centre’s Astroturf, outdoors
Degree of adult intervention/
Perceived Risk
Centre staff
Low – Medium, sometimes
Low (no safety equipment
Team building exercise
Centre staff
Medium - High
High (safety equipment worn)
Team building exercise
Centre staff / visiting teachers
Medium - High
Individualistic experiential learning activity
Centre staff / visiting teachers
Medium (no safety equipment
Individualistic creative activity
Teachers / staff from a nearby centre
Individualistic experiential learning activity
Visiting teachers
Fun oriented activity, involves the whole group
Centre staff
Competitive activities
Competitive, fun orientated activities
Centre staff
Centre staff
Team building exercise
Centre staff / visiting teachers
Medium - High
Medium – High (life guards
and teachers supervising)
Team building exercise
Centre staff / visiting teaches
Low - Medium
Team building competitive exercise
Visiting teachers / centre staff
Team building competitive exercise
Centre staff / visiting teachers
Low - Medium
Fun activity, involves the whole group
Team building exercise
Centre staff
Centre staff
Low – Medium – High
Fun activity, individualistic, sometimes
involves groups
Team building, competitive exercise
Centre staff
Low - Medium
Centre staff
Low - Medium
Fun activity, involves the whole group
Centre staff
Team building exercise
Centre staff / visiting teachers
Medium - High
Team building activity
Individualistic competitive exercise
Visiting teachers
Centre staff
Medium (some safety
equipment worn: gloves)
Individualistic activity
Individualistic experiential learning activity
Individualistic experiential learning activity
Fun, individualistic activity
Team building competitive exercise
Visiting teachers
Centre staff / staff from a nearby
Centre staff
Visiting teachers
Centre staff
Individualistic activity
Competitive group interaction activity
Staff from a nearby centre
Visiting teachers / centre staff
Medium – High (life guards
and teachers supervising)
High (safety equipment worn)
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Adapted from Stan, 2008
Appendix 2 – Description of ‘creepi crawl’ activity at the centre
All leaders—please read this carefully before setting off to explore the Creepi Crawl.
This pack is intended for use by group leaders, rather than by the students themselves, although
you may photocopy any of the sheets for their use before, during or after your visit. Although
there are plenty of suggestions on the interpretation boards along the route, you may also wish to
do some of the activities in this pack, selecting those that would appeal to your group, or
concentrating on some particular aspect of the Creepi Crawl. The detailed Trail Notes included in
this pack can be used in conjunction with the interpretation boards, enabling you to get more out
of your day.
The Route:
The trail is about 1km long and takes about one hour to walk, but more time should be allowed
for activities. It can be split into two parts, or you may like to walk it more than once so that you
can concentrate on different aspects. There is also a short cut back to the house from the Insect
Eye stopping point. There is a map provided, and waymarkers to find your way around the trail.
It is possible to take wheelchairs around the whole trail.
No special clothing is required, except for strong shoes if you want to go off the hard surfaces,
and waterproofs in wet weather. Any special equipment needed for activities is listed in the trail
notes. You may wish to take a camera (flash facility recommended) for the sculpture activity at
Feely Forest.
Any safety points you need to be aware of are highlighted in the text. Remember to take special
care near the pond. All children must be supervised throughout the trail. Please be aware that
electric storms or high winds can be a danger in woodland.
If you want to follow the trail with the mind of a minibeast, you may wish to make use of the
“Who Am I?” minibeast notes (and answers), an example of which is included in this pack.
Collect the appropriate number of badges from the house for the size of your group before you set
off. Give out the right question sheet to each student, according to which minibeast they are to
be. When they have correctly guessed who they are, then give out the badges. If there are more
than seven students they may have to work in pairs.
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Outdoor Play and Learning in Early Childhood
Dr Marjanca Kos
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Very young children have a particular way of interacting with nature and of learning about and from
it. They mostly learn through play. Natural environments provide far more opportunities for creative
play than playgrounds and indoor places. In of our research we investigated to what an extent play
and learning in natural environments are gaining acceptance in Slovene kindergartens. We collected
data and opinions of 78 kindergarten teachers from numerous Slovene kindergartens. Parents'
opinions about outdoor kindergarten are also presented, as well as preschool children’s views about
how and where they like to play. Our results show that the vast majority (81%) of kindergarten
teachers does not spend more than four hours weekly in natural environments with children. That is
few, even more so if compared to the many European “outdoor kindergartens”, where children spend
time in nature four hours daily or even longer, whatever the weather and season. Most of the
kindergarten teachers (73%) consider that the time spent in natural outdoors is insufficient. Over a
half (56%) of the parents believe it would benefit their children if they spend more time in nature than
they do now. Preschool children prefer playing outdoors. After they were given the opportunity to play
in the natural environment for a longer period of time, the majority of them (58%) chose nature as
their favourite playspace. The results of our research reveal that in Slovene kindergartens more time
and attention should be devoted to play and learning in nature.
Key words: preschool children, outdoor play, outdoor learning, creative play
Many adults, when asked to tell about a significant childhood memory, recount an outdoor experience,
often in considerable detail and charged with highly positive affect (Chawla, 1990). These, often the
most memorable learning experiences, help us to make sense of the world around us by making links
between feelings and learning. They stay with us into adulthood and affect our behaviour, lifestyle and
work. They influence our values and the decisions we make (Waite, 2007).
Young children are fascinated by the natural world. They know and experience the natural world
differently to adults (White, 2008; Wilson, 2008). According to Rachel Carson (1956), the child
knows the world as being “fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement”. As for adults,
Carson says:”It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is
beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood”.
Young children not only know the world differently than adults, they also do different things in
interacting with nature. The natural world for children is not just a scene or backdrop – it is something
to be interacted with. Young children want to do more than look. They want to touch, dig, poke, shake,
pound, pour, smell, taste and “muck around”. They want to explore and experiment (Wilson, 2008).
They interact and learn through movement and doing, involving their whole body and using it to find
out and to express. They take in information through all their senses, with less emphasis on talk than
we do as adults. They notice details and things that adults miss or filter out. They need real and
relevant experiences, with lots of handling, direct contact and playful exploration of materials. They
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also need lots of opportunities to imitate, repeat and revisit through their own self-directed play
(White, 2008).
Most of what very young children need to learn during their early childhood years cannot be taught. It
is discovered through play. Through play children learn about themselves and the world around them.
Through play they develop a sense of competence and make invaluable discoveries about their social,
cultural and physical environments (Wilson, 2008).
The natural environment is an ideal place for children to engage in creative play. It offers an incredible
wealth of sensory experiences and open-ended materials (materials that can be used in a wide variety
of ways) for motoric manipulation. Experiences in natural outdoor playspaces promote the holistic
development of children as they foster growth in all of the developmental domains, including adaptive,
cognitive, aesthetic, communication, sensorimotor and socioemotional. Another advantage of play in a
natural environment is the lessening of aggressive behaviours (Wilson, 1995). The quality of play also
tends to be richer in natural environments, where children engage in more creative forms of play
(including fantasy and pretend play) than in playgrounds or “prepared” indoor playspaces (Wilson,
Creative play in natural environments also fosters the development of an environmental ethics, which
must start at the early childhood level, as this is the period of life when basic attitudes and values are
established (Wilson 1994). The most effective way to instill a lifelong sense of caring and
responsibility for the natural world is to give young children frequent positive experiences with the
world of nature. Unless children have frequent positive interactions with the natural world, they are
likely to develop unfounded fears and prejudices about nature that impede the development of an
environmental ethic (Wilson, 2008).
Knowledgeable and enthusiastic adults are crucial to unlocking the potential of outdoors (White,
In this paper, we present the results of our research, in which we investigated to what an extent
outdoor play and learning are gaining acceptance in Slovene kindergartens. We collected data and
opinions of kindergarten teachers from a number of Slovene kindergartens. Also parents' and
preschool children’s views about outdoor play and learning are reported.
2.1. Sample and methods
The research included 78 kindergarten teachers working with children aged 3–6 in kindergartens
across Slovenia. The research further included 50 parents of preschool children aged 3–6 who go to
two kindergartens in the town of Grosuplje, Slovenia. The kindergarten teachers and parents were
asked to complete surveys.
We also held one-on-one interviews with 24 children aged 3–6, from kindergarten Kekec in the town
of Grosuplje. The children were interviewed twice, both times being asked the same set of questions.
In the course of the one month in between the first and second interview the children were taken to
play into the forest and onto a meadow, twice or three times each week.
The kindergartens where we based our research are located in an urban environment.
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2.2 Results
2.2.1 Kindergarten teachers about outdoor play and learning
We asked the kindergarten teachers how much time (how many hours weekly, on average) they spend
with the children in a natural setting – in the forest, on the meadow, by the stream – thus outside manmade playgrounds. The answers differed considerably. Most teachers (26 %) answered they spend 2
hours a week with the children in a natural environment, while very frequent answers were also 3
hours (15%) and 1 hour (14%). It is worrying that 11% of the teachers answered they spend less than 1
hour a week in a natural setting with their children. The vast majority (81%) of teachers does not
spend more than 4 hours weekly in a natural landscape with their children (Fig. 1).
under 1
over 7
hours in nature per week
Fig 1: Time that Slovene kindergarten teachers spend with the children in natural environments (hours
per week).
After asking teachers how many hours a week they spent with the children in the natural outdoors we
asked the following question: »Do you consider this to be enough? « The majority (73%) do not think
so and wish children could spend more time in a natural setting.
We wanted to find out which are the biggest obstacles that kindergarten teachers face in organizing
outdoor play and learning. Most answers were related to the kindergartens' distance from natural
landscapes, organizational problems (need for additional assistants, scheduled daily routines) and
security issues (less control over the children, ticks, dangerous roads).
We were also curious to know how kindergarten teachers spend time with the children when they are
in natural environments, what they do there. The most frequent answer (48%) was taking walks. Less
frequent answers were guided sports and science activities and art-related activities. Only a small
number (15%) of teachers mentioned spontaneous, unmediated play.
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2.2.2 Parents about outdoor play and learning
We wanted to find out whether parents thought their children spend enough time in the natural outdoor
environment (thus outside playgrounds) while being in the kindergarten. Over a half of them (56%)
believe it would benefit their children if they spend more time in nature than they do now. All of these
parents said they are willing to assume the inconveniences and risks related to the natural outdoors,
such that cannot be fully avoided despite maximum care and attention (ticks, dirty clothes, children
cannot come to the kindergarten if they are not completely healthy). All of them also answered they
are willing to take on the additional expense of buying their children waterproof clothes, to be kept in
the kindergarten for the children's convenience so they can spend more quality time outdoors.
We asked the parents what kind of a kindergarten they would chose for their child if they had all
options open: a kindergarten in an urban environment, close to all the institutions, shops and bus stops,
or a kindergarten close to a forest and outside a residential area, with an expansive fenced meadow and
forest, where children can spend a lot of time outdoors. The vast majority of parents (78%) chose the
second option, a kindergarten on the edge of a forest.
2.2.3 Preschool children about outdoor play and learning
Last but not least we were interested in what preschool children themselves think about playing and
learning in a natural setting. In the first interview we asked the children how much time they spend
outdoors during their day in the kindergarten, and whether they would like to be outside more. The
vast majority (78%) answered yes.
We further asked them where they prefer to play while being with the kindergarten teacher and
children. Before being taken to play in the natural settings, the majority (54%) answered their
favourite play area is the outdoor playground, 26% said they prefer the playroom, and only 20% said
their favourite play areas are the forest or meadow. After a month of spending a lot of time in the
natural outdoors (Figs. 2 and 3) their answers were completely different. The majority (58%) now
chose the forest and meadow to be their favourite play areas.
We asked the children to tell us which structures and materials they want in their outdoor playspaces.
Their most common answers in the initial interviews were: water, trees to climb, bushes to play hide
and seek, and sand. After a month spent regularly playing in natural landscapes, their wishes
multiplied. They now said they also want leaves, branches, moss and stones to play with.
We also wanted to know if the children are bothered about their clothes getting dirty from playing
outdoors. Initially the vast majority (76%) answered yes. After playing in the natural outdoors (where
dirty clothes were never an issue) their answers changed considerably. 79% of the children now
answered they are not at all bothered by getting dirty from playing outside.
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Fig. 3
Figs. 2 and 3:
Creative play in the forest. Children manipulate a variety of natural materials and objects, which
assume a symbolic meaning through play and can be used in a wide variety of ways. Children engage
in creative forms of play (including pretend and fantasy play).
2.3 Discussion and conclusions
The results of our surveys of kindergarten teachers lead us to conclude that Slovene kindergartens do
not devote enough attention to children’s playing and learning in natural outdoor settings. Four hours a
week is few, even more so if compared to the many European »forest kindergartens« or »outdoor
kindergartens«, where children spend time in nature every day, whatever the weather and season,
being outside for four hours daily or even longer. It is encouraging, however, that most Slovene
kindergarten teachers, included in the research, realize that the time spent with the children in the
natural outdoors is insufficient. We assume they recognize, at least in part, the importance of play and
learning in the natural outdoors for preschool children. On the other hand they seem to lack the related
knowledge and experience; even when they do take children into a natural environment they spend
most time taking walks, as if they lacked ideas what to do with the children there. Efficient
organization can overcome the obstacles teachers see as preventing outdoor play and learning from
becoming more important in the children’s everyday life in the kindergarten. These obstacles include
the teachers’ belief that children gain more from playing indoors than they would if they played
outdoors, and that both teachers and children are preoccupied with other activities. Educating
kindergarten teachers about outdoor play and learning, and sharing with them the positive impacts of
outdoor play witnessed by kindergartens that practise it, can surely help change this line of thinking.
It is evident that preschool children want to spend more time outdoors. If they are given the
opportunity to play in the natural environment for a longer period of time and find out what it has to
offer, they grow fond of it. Having at their disposal playrooms with toys and conventional outdoor
playgrounds with manufactured equipment and natural environments, children will choose the latter as
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their favourite playspace. The repeated experience of playing in a natural environment will soon make
any prejudice against playing outside, such as dirty clothes (if they are not made into an issue by
parents and teachers), go away.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of children to live and
play in an environment that stimulates their healthy development. The opinions of surveyed teachers,
parents and children all point into the same direction: in Slovene kindergartens more time and
attention should be devoted to play and learning in a natural setting. Our research has revealed a
readiness to give the outdoor kindergarten more prominence, and it encourages further action.
Educating teachers and parents about the importance of play and learning outdoors and introducing
them to the positive experience of European outdoor kindergartens can help overcome the related
organizational and material obstacles as well as prejudices.
The author thanks kindergarten teacher Ana Gregorič of kindergarten Kekec, Grosuplje, Slovenia, for
cooperating in the research of play in the natural outdoors.
Carson, R. (1956). The sense of wonder. New York: Harper&Row.
Chawla, L. (1990). Ecstatic places. Children’s Environments Quarterly 7(4), 18-23.
Waite, S. (2007). “Memories are made of this”: some reflections on outdoor learning and recall.
Education 3-13 35(4), 333-347.
White , J. (2008). Playing and learning outdoors. Oxon: Routledge.
Wilson, R. A. (1994). Environmental education at the early childhood level. Day Care and Early
Education 22(2), 23-25.
Wilson, R. A. (1995). Nature and young children: a natural connection. Young Children 50(6), 4-11.
Wilson, R. A. (2008). Nature and young children. Encouraging creative play and learning in natural
environments. Oxon: Routledge.
Marjanca Kos, PhD, is a biologist. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana. She teaches
Early Science at the Pre-School Education Study Programme. Her research focuses on outdoor and experiential learning of
early science, and explores how it is related to creative movement and visual arts
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
First hand experiences and interactive learning – Environmental Education
and Outdoor Education in Finland
¹Dr Eila Jeronen, ² Marjatta Kaikkonen & ¹,³ Pia Smeds
¹ University of Oulu, Faculty of Education
² University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Teacher training school
³ MTT Agrifood Research Finland
University of Oulu, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, University of Oulu,
[email protected]
The purpose of this article is to be an introduction of outdoor education in Finland. Firstly,
Environmental Education theories and models used as background for outdoor education will be
presented. Thereafter, a case study, showing how different emotions are correlating with learning and
with learning in a different learning environment, will be shortly described. This research is part of
project SEED 2009-2011, Sustainable food education for self-efficacy development and it is partly
funded by Academy of Finland. At the end of the article, it will be described how environmental
education and outdoor education have been taken into account in the Finnish national and local
school curricula and given some examples about them in Finnish schools. The article will provide new
aspects for teacher education and the development of school curricula.
Key words: cross-curricular theme, environmental education, emotions and learning, national and
local curricula
The Tbilisi Declaration (UNESCO-UNEP, 1978) emphasized an active citizenry by suggesting, that
the goal of environmental education (EE) was to
“help individuals and communities … acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, and practical
skills to participate in a responsible and effective way in anticipating and solving environmental
problems, and in the management of the quality of the environment."
Palmer and Neal (1994) define EE as: 1) education about the environment, which builds awareness,
understanding, and the skills necessary to obtain the understanding; 2) education in (or from) the
environment, where learning occurs outside of the classroom; and 3) education for the environment,
which has objectives related to nature conservation and sustainable development (SD). Hungerford
and Volk (1990) have argued that active participation is not emphasized enough in EE although
environmentally responsible behaviour can be developed by 1) entry level variables, including the
ability to experience and enjoy nature and knowledge of ecology; 2) ownership variables, such as indepth knowledge and personal investment in the environment; and 3) empowerment variables like
internal locus of control and intention and ability to act for the environment.
The EE research has focused on changes in the cognitive and affective attributes brought about by EE
interventions. Outdoor education (OdE) has been found to be an effective way of learning (Bogner,
1998). An emphatic relation to nature (Palmberg & Kuru, 1998), nature sensitivity (Nykänen &
Kinnunen, 1992), environmental awareness, attitudes, and conceptions can be fostered by repeated
nature experiences (Gilbertson, 1990) and long-term nature education (Palmberg, 1989).
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Persons' knowledge level, together with values and conceptions of responsibility, has an effect on how
interested they are in environmental questions (Bulkeley, 2000). Education is a prerequisite for
promoting the behavioural changes and providing citizens with the key competencies needed to
achieve SD. In order to encourage the promotion of EE and Sustainable Development Education
(SDE) in Finland, a national strategy for EE (A National Strategy for…, 1991) has been created, as
well as a strategy for SDE (Loukola et al., 2002). EE and SDE are also taken into account in the
National core curriculum for basic education (NCC, 2004).
This article aims to give an introduction of EE and OdE in Finland. First, we will present the EE
models used in Finland and then a qualitative case study showing how different emotions are
correlating with learning in a different learning environment. At the end of the article, it will be
described how EE and OdE are included in NCC together with some examples.
Models in EE used in Finland
The most widely used EE models in Finland are (Cantell & Koskinen, 2004): the Environmental
behaviour model (Hungerford & Volk, 1990), the Onion model (Käpylä, 1995), the Tree model
(Palmer, 1998), and the House model (Jeronen & Kaikkonen, 2002).
In the Environmental behaviour model, Hungerford and Volk (1990) describe the development of an
environmentally responsible citizen with three variables. The most important variable at the entry level
is environmental sensitivity, which means an emphatic attitude towards nature. It develops based on
experiences of nature. Ownership variables are the most important for the development of responsible
behaviour. In-depth knowledge of environmental issues and the ecological and social consequences of
human action promote environmentally responsible behaviour. Personal investment means that a
person is ready to spend money or time or to take trouble to work for the environment. Minor
variables are knowledge of the consequences of one’s behaviour, and a personal commitment to issue
resolution. Empowerment is a cornerstone in EE. It creates a feeling that environmental action is
important. Knowledge of and skills in using environmental action strategies create the will to behave
in an environmentally responsible way (Hungerford & Volk, 1990).
The Onion model is based on the Environmental behaviour model. Knowing and knowledge as
ideological power factors are at the core of the model (Käpylä, 1995). The aim of EE is to support
understanding of cultural meanings through emotions and affections. A person creates her or his own
knowledge. Responsible environmental behaviour includes entry-level, ownership, and affective
variables. Successful EE includes strategies for knowing, feeling, willing, and doing.
In the Tree model, implications for EE come from different ideologies or perspectives on the root
causes of environmental problems (Palmer, 1998). Education about the environment, in the
environment and for the environment should go alongside, interlinked with issue-based, actionorientated, and socially critical education.
The core idea in the House model is that the development of senses and emotions is crucial in EE
(Jeronen & Kaikkonen, 2002). The main objectives are to foster environmental sensitivity, to learn
environmental awareness and knowledge and to acquire a readiness and responsibility to solve
environmental problems. The content covers nature, the built, social, aesthetic, and ethical
environment. Nature studies include issues about ecology, environmental threats, and the relationship
between human beings and nature. Studies of the built environment consist of economical, technical,
and socio-cultural questions. In social environment studies, students think over the questions of
environmental problems and an active citizenship. Aesthetic and ethical issues are discussed in
cultural context including reflections on values and moral issues (Jeronen & Kaikkonen, 1994). Useful
methods in EE are those related to sensitivity, science and values education. Sensitivity education is
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based on experiential learning with outdoor activities. Science education includes inquiry-based
learning. In values education, values clarification is a useful method. Product and process evaluation,
based on the objectives, is emphasized and not only the teachers but also the pupils and parents should
participate in the evaluation processes (Jeronen & Kaikkonen, 2001). In all situations, the unique
differences between students should taken into account (Jeronen et al., 2009).
All the models presented above have the same purpose: education for a sustainable future. Their main
aim is to develop skills and qualifications important for nature conservation, such as sensitivity for the
environment, knowledge about ecology, critical thinking skills, understanding of environmental
questions, social action skills, and responsible environmental behaviour (Cantell & Koskinen, 2004).
A case study of outdoor education in rural settings
The following description on the OdE in the rural settings is based on the manuscript by Smeds et al.
The linkage between emotions and learning is a complex issue. Pupils’ knowledge is build up by
concrete experiences, interests, emotions, and values (Bogner, 1998). OdE in rural and agricultural
surroundings offers many possibilities for learning and studying subjects, as well as studying the
relationship between affective and cognitive aspects.
McRae (1990) has divided OdE into knowledge focused outdoor teaching and learning, ecologically
focused outdoor EE and outdoor leisure education focusing on personal growth. Advantages with OdE
are its deductiveness (Dahlgren & Szczepanski, 1997) and hands-on activities (Kolb, 1999). Nundy
(Dillon et al., 2003) explains activation of different senses as reinforcement between the affective and
the cognitive domain where one influences the other and provides a bridge to higher learning.
First hand experiences and interactive learning situations are important in forming of personal
opinions, attitudes, and values (Balschweid, 2002). Positive attitudes of urban and rural pupils towards
environment have been found to increase in OdE (Mittelsteadt et al., 1999; Frick et al., 1995). Urban
and rural pupils (McCormack, 2002) and girls and boys (Wandersee, 2006) have also been found to
have a different view on agriculture. E.g. girls show more “hot” emotions and boys “cool” towards
agriculture (Alsop, in Dillon et al., 2003).
OdE is a component of the basic education in Finland in form of field trips and camp schools (NCC,
2004). Camp schools are most popular in the grades 5 and 6 (1213 years old pupils). They are not
compulsory but are found to be encouraged by school traditions and teachers’ personal experience on
the benefits of camp schools. Typical themes for camp schools are nature and environment and the
building of pupils’ social competence. Adventure, physical, and cultural activities are also seen
important. (Miemois, 2005)
Some reports on OdE in rural settings has been published (Krogh et al., 2005), but studies on pupils’
expectations and experiences are diverse (Dillon et al., 2003). To be able to investigate the
phenomenon a project called Eco Learn was established. The theme of the project was chosen to be
the route of food as people are living to a greater extent in cities and a diminishing number of pupils’
have personal experiences of nature or life in the countryside. This can be shown pupils’ low
knowledge on agriculture (Trexler, 2000) and differences in the knowledge between urban and rural
pupils (Frick et al., 1995). Especially urban pupils’ image of human-nature interaction is often based
on television and other media (Palmer, 1998). Eco Learn as a concept is viewed as OdE by Knapp
(1996) and based on the constructivist learning conception by Davis et al. (1993), EE theory by Palmer
and Neal (1994) and by Palmer (1998) and experiential learning theory by Kolb (1984). The aim of
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Eco Learn was to clarify for pupils the route of food, to foster understanding and respect of nature by
demonstrating a sustainable relation between man and nature in agriculture, and to offer a personal,
positive, genuine and realistic image of the countryside. (Eco Learn - a Model for…, 2006)
The aim of the study was to investigate pupils’ expectations and experience on learning in a farm
environment. Following research questions guided this study:
1. What kinds of expectations do pupils have on studying and learning in outdoor rural settings?
a. Do urban and rural pupils have any differences?
b. Do girls and boys have any differences?
2. What kinds of experiences do pupils have on studying and learning in outdoor rural settings?
a. Do urban and rural pupils have any differences?
b. Do girls and boys have any differences?
Material and methods
The material was gathered during 2003–2005 in Southern Finland. In total, 161 pupils in the grades 5
and 6 participated in the study (76 girls, 78 boys, 7 pupils did not mention their sex). 85 urban pupils
were from Helsinki region and 76 rural pupils from Häme region. The urban pupils had seldom or
never visited a farm and the rural ones had visited farms before.
Mixed methods approach (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004) with qualitative and quantitative methods
was used (questionnaires with closed Likert-scaled questions based on mood research, open-ended
questions, observation diary and interviews). The qualitative results were analyzed by inductive
content analysis methods (Graneheim & Lundman, 2004).
Main findings
About 70% of all pupils had general positive expectations of rural environment, but there were
differences between the groups. About 45% of the pupils brought up positive affective values and
about 10% negative values. The urban pupils expected to see countryside/agriculture, variation, and
peace and quiet and the rural pupils learning by doing and learning new knowledge. The girls
expressed stronger affective values as love and the boys expected more to be away from school.
Concerning the pupils’ experiences about 80% of all pupils had a general positive opinion. There is no
big difference between the urban and the rural girls or the urban and the rural boys. The boys
expressed more positive values than the girls. The girls were more indecisive than the boys and the
boys had more negative opinions than the girls. More than 50% of all pupils brought up learning as a
quality of rural settings, among the rural girls 80%. The pupils told that rural settings are a better
learning environment than an ordinary classroom and offer a combination of fun and learning. The
girls brought up learning, including better learning environment and countryside/agriculture more than
the boys and the boys brought up animals, free time and affective values more than the girls.
Conclusion of the study
These results reveal the positive educational value of OdE in rural settings and the linkage
between affective and cognitive values. The pupils brought up values that support OdE. Similar
tendencies in experiences and increase in general positive attitudes towards OdE in rural settings can
be identified among the urban and the rural pupils, as well as among the girls and the boys. Learning
was brought up as an important quality, as did a better learning environment. Differences between the
urban and the rural pupils can be explained by cultural and geographical background and preparatory
activities that the pupils have or have not participated in.
Studying and learning processes are personal experiences that involve emotions, cultural and
geographical background. Pupils various backgrounds need to be taken into account when planning
OdE in rural settings, but more important is preparing the pupils for learning by appropriate activities.
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OdE in rural settings can be seen to have cognitive values that are linked to affective values, but
affective values do not explain the experienced educational use of outdoor rural settings amongst
EE and OdE in the Finnish NCC and at schools
EE and OdE in the Finnish NCC
In the comprehensive schools (pupils aged 7–16); the environmental theme of NCC is “Responsibility
for the environment, well-being, and sustainable future”.
It should be taught using a spiral principle where knowledge and skills of pupils will be broadened and
deepened year by year. The main objective is (NCC, 2004, 39):
“…to raise environmentally conscious citizens who are committed to a sustainable way of life.
The schools must teach future-oriented thinking and building the future on ecologically,
economically, socially, and culturally sustainable premises.”
The pupils should (NCC, 2004, 39):
understand the prerequisites for human well-being, the necessity of environmental protection,
and relationships between the two;
learn to observe changes taking place in the environment and human well-being, to clarify the
causes and consequences of these changes and to act for the good of the living environment
and enhanced well-being;
learn to evaluate the impacts of their consumption and daily practices, and adopt the courses
of action required by SD;
learn to promote well-being in their own communities and to understand threats to, and
potential for, well-being at a global level;
come to understand that, through their choices, individuals construct both their own futures
and our common future; learn to act constructively for a sustainable future.
The local and school curricula are based on the NCC.
International EE projects in Finnish comprehensive schools
Many of the Finnish comprehensive schools have participated in international EE projects in the last
years. GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide handson, primary and secondary school-based education and science program. It trains teachers to help
pupils improve their achievement in science and mathematics, and in the use of information and
communication technology. It also supports teachers and pupils achieve education objectives. In
addition, it develops environmental awareness. The content includes climate, vegetation, water
systems, soil, and global positioning system (GPS).
Schools from the Baltic countries take part in the Baltic Sea Project. The purpose of the project is to
awaken pupils' interest in environmental issues and protection, and to develop their responsibility for
OECD/CERI ENSI project (Environment and School Initiatives) has an important role when
developing the “Ecoschool” idea, learning environments and teacher education. “Ecoschool” means
that schools stress ecological solutions in their own everyday life. E.g. in the theme called “Learning
environments”, pupils and teachers have developed classrooms and school backyards.
In The Northern forest ecosystems and education project (Pohjoiset metsäekosysteemit ja koulutus);
students learn to solve environmental problems focusing on biodiversity (Salmio, 2001, 224).
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EE at the teacher training school of the University of Oulu
At the primary level of the teacher training school of the University of Oulu, three different EE themes
have been put into practice during the school year. In the first theme “Immediate surroundings”, pupils
investigate local environments biogeographically. In the end of summer, they reflect on how
organisms prepare for winter. In autumn and winter, pupils investigate cultural and social
environment. In spring, they observe actual changes in nature. In the second theme “I and
environmental conservation”, pupils familiarize themselves with biodiversity and study the concept of
SD. The third theme is “Finland and Northern Countries”. During the autumn term, pupils acquaint
with biogeography in Fennoscandia. In winter, they learn issues dealing with relationships between
man and nature. They also cooperate with foreign schools via distance learning systems. Recycling
and improvements in close environments are long-lasting projects in studying personal and
collaborative responsibility. (Oulun normaalikoulun…2004)
At the lower secondary level, the aim is that pupils adopt relevant environmental knowledge, and
develop their skills, readiness and responsibility in environmental issues. The 7th grade pupils
investigate weather, water, and soil in different ecosystems. They acquaint with the cultural
environment discussing locations of buildings and roads, social and economical questions, and effects
of human beings on ecosystems. The 8th grade pupils investigate physical, chemical and biological
factors in nature. The 9th grade pupils study e.g. endangered species and everyman's rights including
ethical questions. Laboratory work, map and journal analyses, role games, junk markets, trips,
excursions, visits, and camp schools are examples of the used methods. (Oulun
In Finland, both the curricula and the ideas of teachers include active approaches to learning,
encouraging to manage studying and learning processes rather than merely to lecture in the classroom.
It has been described as the use of discussions, visits, role-plays, games, experimentation, and practical
activities in outdoors. However, the teaching styles compared with the ideas, are not as open as they
could be. Teaching strategies exploring pupils personal values and responses, are not as frequently
used as they could be. Instead, traditional teacher-centered learning is often preferred. According
teachers, the reason is lack of time and of knowledge of new environmental issues and educational
The emphasis on routine learning can lead to pupils accepting any fixed knowledge. It deters students
from becoming independent, innovative, critical thinkers and decision-makers, all vital components of
EE. Common environmental activities used are recycling and learning of ecological information. In
many schools, teachers and pupils also clean near-surroundings, plant trees, and take care of composts
and school gardens. This all is a good thing, but teachers should also encourage pupils to critical
thinking supporting the pupils to question the norms and values of society. Valuation could include
direct reflection about pleasure or suffering. These are elements present in the notion of quality of life
and are acknowledged in EE. The point is to evaluate pragmatic abilities in construction of one’s own
happiness that should take into account the need for an appropriate self-control in the interaction with
the environment. Meta domain includes moral values. It is about a person’s acknowledgement of
duties. If we want to study and learn a new life style, it is important to take environmental values into
account and make schools places where we can live after them.
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school students. Journal of Agricultural Education, 43, 2, 56–67.
Bogner, F. X. (1998). The influence of short-term outdoor ecology education on long-termvariables of
environmental perspective. Journal of Environmental Education, 29, 4, 17–29.
Bulkeley, H. (2000). Common knowledge? Public understanding of climate change inNewcastle,
Australia. Public Understanding of Science, 9, 313–333.
Cantell, H. & Koskinen, S. (2004). Ympäristökasvatuksen tavoitteita ja sisältöjä. (Aims andcontents in
EE). In H. Cantell (Ed.), Ympäristökasvatuksen käsikirja, pp. 60–79.
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sinnlig erfarenhet. Ett försök till bestämning av utomhuspedagogikens identitet. Linköpings universitet,
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Eila Jeronen, PhD, is a university lecturer in Biology and Geography education in University of Oulu, Finland. She is also a
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education and teacher education.
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A Research Summer Camps as an Effective Way for Comprehensive
Development of Adolescents’ Personalities and Environmental
Consciousness: A Case Study from Slovenia
Dr Gregor Torkar1,2, Petra Mohar3
EGEA, Institution for Nature, Slovenia
University of Nova Gorica, Laboratory for Environmental Research, Slovenia
Lutra, Institute for Conservation of Natural Heritage, Slovenia
[email protected]
The purpose of this paper is to discuss how youth can benefit from variety of different experiences
organised on summer camps. We use the case study from our practice to show how outdoor
educational programmes can contribute to the overall development of adolescents' personalities and
environmental consciousness. Summer camps were organised at the end of a one year long pilot
environmental programme named Drops of Science. The goals of the programme were to educate
pupils and students about protection of freshwater ecosystems, water cycle, water use, water footprint
and to promote science amongst youth. We were cooperating closely with 25 schools and had access
to more than 300 ecoschools in the Slovenia. By developing educational materials and activities for
different age groups – from preschools to universities – we have tried to raise awareness and
knowledge about the issue. This paper is divided into three sections. First, the educational programme
“Drops of Science” and the educational goals of the summer camps are presented. Next, philosophy,
organisation and different activities of the summer camps are described. In the last section, evaluation
of the camps is presented, using qualitative (analysis of participants posters, focus groups) and
quantitative (structured questionnaire) methods. Results show that adolescents highly enjoyed
attending the camps. The responses reported that they learned much about animals and plants,
freshwater ecosystems, the research methods and dealing with research equipment. They had plenty of
opportunities for experiential learning about animal species. They also had the opportunity to learn
about different professions in science and to talk to established scientists. The model of outdoor
education presented here may be very useful to other institutions interested in working towards
motivating more young people for sciences and research work.
Key words: outdoor education, camp, adolescents, raising awareness, personal development
Smith, Reynold, Donaldson and Masters (1972) suggest that outdoor education is unique because it
maximises the use of the natural physical environment as a learning laboratory. A growing body of
literature is now available which reports investigations of participants' personal gains from outdoor
education or wilderness experiences (e.g. Hattie, Marsh, Neill & Richards, 1997; Hopkins & Putnam,
1993; Stott & Hall, 2003). The purpose of this paper is to discuss how youth can benefit from variety
of different experiences organised on summer research camps “Drops of Science” in Slovenia.
In order for experiences to be meaningful to individuals, Palmer (2004) suggested bringing us back to
our whole selves. Palmer suggested, meaningful learning experiences go beyond just learning
something; they guide people's perceptions of who they really are and what are they capable of. Orr
(1994, p. 6) suggests that "we experience nature mostly through sight, sound, smell touch and taste ―
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
through a medley of sensations that play upon us in complex ways". In another paper Orr (1993, p. 17)
wrote that experiential knowing is based on the assumption that "there is no way to separate feeling
from knowledge, or object from subject; there is no good way to separate mind and body from its
ecological and emotional context".
We use the case study from our practice to show how outdoor educational programmes can contribute
to the experiential learning, overall development of adolescents' personalities and environmental
consciousness. One of the primary goals of the camps presented in the paper is to promote science and
research work among youth. This paper is divided into three sections. First, the educational
programme “Drops of Science” and the educational goals are presented. Next, philosophy,
organisation and different activities of the research summer camps are described. In the last section,
evaluation of the camps is presented, using qualitative and quantitative methods.
Educational programme “Drops of Science”
Two key elements of the programme are hidden in the name of the programme: water and science.
Educational programme “Drops of Science” was a one year long pilot environmental programme. The
programme emphasises holistic educational approach in learning about water and water resources.
We were closely cooperating with 25 schools and kindergartens from Slovenia. Additionally, more
than 300 Slovenian eco- schools and eco- kindergartens were involved by getting our educational
materials; we developed educational materials and activities for different age groups – from preschool
to university level. The goals of the programme were to educate pupils and students about protection
of freshwater ecosystems, water cycle, water use, water footprint and to promote science amongst
youth. The latter was an important educational goal of the camps.
Figure 1. Education activities and educational materials developed in the programme “Drops of
For all details about educational activities and materials visit web portal http://izobrazevanje.lutra.si.
The programme was co financed by Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology.
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Research summer camps: how do we work?
At the end of the programme, we organized four research summer camps for youth. Main goals of the
research summer camps were to inform youth about different research methods, educate them about
animals, plants and other elements of freshwater ecosystems and surrounding environments, and to
present the different researchers and their research work in order to promote science and research
The camps were attended by 55 pupils and students from all over Slovenia. Camps were held in
Fokovci on Goričko, in Fara near river Kolpa, in Tolmin near river Soča and in Rakov Škocjan where
karst river Rak is floating.
Figure 2. Map of Slovenia with locations of summer research camps
Research activities. Participants of the summer camps were studying marsh and other aquatic plants,
tracking animals, watching birds, analyzing chemical and ecological condition of freshwater
ecosystems, catching and determining species of amphibians and butterflies etc. Details on work of
different research groups were summed up in research reports published in proceedings of Drops of
science (in Slovene language) (Torkar, Mohar, Gregorc, Nekrep & Hönigsfeld Adamič 2009).
Workshops and games. The camps were abundant in artistic workshops, orientation and sport games,
which enriched afternoons of the camps. A wide selection of workshops and games, attended by all the
participants, has offered young people an opportunity to develop and discover their talents and to
establish themselves among their peers and mentors. The purpose of the games was also to improve
team spirit and group dynamics among the participants.
Evening guests – recognized researchers. The participants spent the evenings in the company of
guests, renowned researchers who have presented their own life paths that have led them to work in
scientific research. We hosted researchers from various scientific fields such as forestry, nature
conservation, ornithology, entomology, botany and geography.
Adventure trail. At each camp we organized a long hike to a location of a natural or cultural heritage
(waterfall, castle, hill). We usually organized it on the fifth day of the camp when the participants have
already got the chance to know each other and mutual trust and respect have been established. We
used the hike to discuss further education and careers, collecting impressions of the camp, singing, etc.
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Step-by-step. Realization of a week long camp requires a consideration of gradual development of
mutual relations and respect among youth and between youth and mentors. In this context, a group
dynamics “builds” and develops from first to last day of camp. Accordingly, it is also necessary to
adjust planned educational activities. In the first days we pay more attention to building a collective
spirit and mutual understanding. It should be noted that much attention and time is devoted to order
and mutual respect, which are prerequisites for safe and efficient completion of the camp. The more
we approach the end of the camp, more autonomy and responsibility for the actions are assumed by
the participants themselves.
Evaluation of summer research camp activities
Sample. In total 55 pupils and students participated in the 6-days long research summer camps. Three
out of four camps were designed for pupils and students of primary and secondary schools (Fokovci,
Fara, Rakov Škocjan), one camp was designed for university students (Tolmin). Only the results of the
camps designed for pupils and students of primary and secondary schools are presented in this paper.
Participants were not selected, but they themselves signed up to attend the camp. The summer camps
were organised in June and July 2009.
Quantitative methods. A structured questionnaire was developed based on educational goals of the
programme. For each statement respondents were asked to score their personal opinion on a scale
ranging from strongly disagree (1); disagree (2); cannot say (3); agree (4); strongly agree (5). A
prototype of the questionnaire was tested with two 11 and 13-year old girls who, being in the same
age class as the participants, were thought to represent a reasonable match with the sample population
of participants. The questionnaire was completed on the last day of the 6-days long camp. Altogether
42 pupils and students completed the questionnaires, 15 males and 27 females aged 11 to 18.
Qualitative methods. An analysis of participants’ posters and group discussions (focus groups) were
used to evaluate the camps’ activities. On the fifth day each participant made a poster expressing their
impressions of the activities that were organized in the camp. When making posters, the students could
use images and texts from various magazines, catalogues, calendars and newspapers (all provided),
and different coloured pens. Posters were exhibited and a group discussion followed in which
participated from 7 to 15 participants, who presented their posters. This was the starting point for
discussion that was developed on the activities that took place at the camp. The discussion was
moderated by experienced researcher and tape recorded.
Results and discussion
The descriptive analysis of the results of a structured questionnaire shows that participants were
satisfied with the realization of the camps. Most (97.6%) were satisfied with the work in research
groups. Participants also mostly agree that they learned a lot of new plant (92.8%) and animal species
(92.9%) and the main characteristics of freshwater ecosystems (71.4%). The vast majority (97.6%)
also agrees they are more familiar with the role of rivers, lakes and streams in the wild. They all agree
that they could empirically experience animals and touch them (animals like frogs, snakes, lizards,
dragonflies, butterflies etc.).
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Next we were interested in how satisfied they were with the applied research methods. After
completion of the camp, most participants (92.9%) feel more competent in observing and handling
animals and plants, can better handle research equipment (92.9%), understands better different
methods of research (90.5%) and can better analyze and process field data (92.9%).
Participants generally agree that they have learned many new things about nature and nature
conservation (90.5%) by talking to evening guests. They were impressed by researchers' dedication to
scientific work (69%) and they want to try to be like them in their future profession (90.5%).
The fifth day of the summer camps, the participants prepared posters to express their impressions,
concerns for and perceptions of nature they have accumulated during the week. At their disposal, there
were different magazines, newspapers, catalogues and calendars with different content not linked only
to nature. The purpose of creating posters was to present their new knowledge, acquired at the camps,
through the creativity and imagination and also to present their view of events to other participants.
We analyzed the pictures used for making the posters and classified them into five categories: animals,
plants, environment, research and other activities. Within the categories were determined individual
elements or groups of elements that occur in the posters more than five times. We analyzed 39 posters,
with a total of 415 images or photographs and texts. Despite the wide range of offered options most
pictures appearing on posters represented animals (48.43%), followed by plants (17.83%),
environment (14.22%), research (6.02%) and other activities (2.41%). Among the animals the
prevailing groups that have pictures appearing more than five times were birds (26.87%), butterflies
(7.96%), flies (6.97%) and frogs (5.97%). Of all the animals, 11.94% represented carnivores, 8.96%
domesticated animals, and marine animals with 5.48% of images. Plants represented 17.83% of all
pictures used, of those 20.72% represented aquatic plants, 9.46% trees and 6.76% orchids. In the
category of environment occurred pictures of natural environments (lake, forest, rocks, rivers, sea,
marsh) as well as man-made environments (field, orchard, vineyard, city). Most of the images
encountered represented lakes (20.34%), grassland (13.56%), rocky masses (13.56%) and forests
(13.56%). To the category of research activities were assigned images that illustrated nature
observation, hunting, research equipment and computer. The category other activities contains pictures
of games, singing, hiking, eating and pictures of workshops. The remaining 9.40% pictures we could
not categorize (e.g. pictures of pregnancy, heart, clouds, feet, umbrella).
Figure 3. An example of a poster
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We also analyzed the text on posters and participants’ poster presentations. Mostly they reflect the
impressions of the camps’ activities and the nature - the beauty of nature, miracles of nature, colours
of nature, friendship at the camp, loyalty, food chain, camp activities, animals seen at the camp etc.
Adolescents highly enjoyed attending the camps. The responses reported that they learned much about
animals and plants, freshwater ecosystems and environment, the research methods and dealing with
research equipment. They had plenty of opportunities for experiential learning about animal species.
They also had the opportunity to learn about different professions in science and to talk to established
Youth always surprises us again with its enthusiasm and reasonable yet childlike view of the world in
which we live. This view is a natural, direct and honest look at the good and bad, the true and quasidecision. Adults often underestimate youngsters and do not impose upon them proper burdens of life.
Conversations with participants showed that experience of such camps inspire them with certain
degree of confidence in themselves and their abilities.
The purpose of this paper has been to explore whether outdoor education serves to adolescents as
meaningful real life experiences that can contribute to their personal development and environmental
awareness. To explore these potentials we evaluated research summer camps named “Drops of
Science”. Using different qualitative and quantitative methods we were able to come to next
(1) The responses reported that they learned much about animal and plant species in freshwater
ecosystems and surrounding environments.
(2) They had plenty of opportunities for experiential learning about animal species that were
(3) They learned much about research methods and dealing with research equipment.
(4) They also reported having the opportunity to learn about different professions in science and
to talk to established scientists. Majority of participants would like to follow their steps in life.
Following Palmer’s suggestions (2004) we have provided meaningful learning experiences to
participants that go beyond just learning something; they guide people's perceptions of who they really
are and what are they capable of. By giving them more opportunities, autonomy and responsibility for
exploring natural physical environment we positively influenced on their confidence in personal
abilities and motivation to experience nature in more complex and ecological context. The model of
outdoor education presented here may be very useful to other institutions interested in working
towards motivating more young people for sciences and research work.
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Hattie, J., Marsh, H.W., Neill, J.T., & Richards, G.E. (1997). Adventure education and Outward
Bound: Out-of-class experiences that make a lasting difference. Review of Educational
Research, 67(1), 43-87.
Hopkins, D., & Putman, R. (1993). Personal growth through adventure. London, David Fulton.
Orr, D. (1993). Schools for the twenty-first century. Resurgence, 160, 16-17.
Orr, D. (1994). Earth in mind. Washington DC: Island Press.
Palmer, E.J. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey toward an undivided life. San Francisco:
Smith, J., Reynold, C., Donaldson, G., & Master, H. (1972). Outdoor education (2nd edition).
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Stott, T. & Hall, N. (2003). Changes in aspects of students' self-reported personal, social and technical
skills during a six-week wilderness expedition in Arctic Greenland. Journal of Adventure
Education & Outdoor Learning, 3 (2), 159 – 169.
Torkar, G., Mohar, P., Gregorc, T., Nekrep, I. & Hönigsfeld Adamič, M. (2009). Kapljice znanosti:
zbornik. Ljubljana: Lutra, Inštitut za ohranjanje naravne dediščine.
Gregor Torkar, doc. Dr., prof. bio. in gosp. has Phd in nature conservation. He’s an author and co-author of several expert
and science article from the field of biology, nature conservation and didactics. He’s author and editor of several textbooks,
teachers manual and other didactics material. He’s been organising and leading adventure and science camps for children,
youth and students. He works at University of Nova Gorica, Laboratory for Environmental Research and Slovenian Academy
of Science and Art. He’s a founder of EGEA, Institution for Nature for the purpose of organising different camps.
Petra Mohar, univ. dipl. biol. is ornithologist, mentor on science camps, and chairwoman of Society for the protection of
animals of Ljubljana. She's co-author of expert article and didactics material from the field of water protection. She works at
Lutra, Institute for Conservation of Natural Heritage.
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Outdoor Learning, Environment and Sustainability- Seeing the big picture
Geoff Cooper
Low Bank Ground Outdoor Education Centre, United Kingdom
[email protected]
There are many educational advantages in working with young people in the outdoors and through
practical, first- hand experiences we can inspire learning, personal and social skills and challenge
values. As practitioners we do not always realise the full potential of our work and how it can
encourage understanding and actions for a more sustainable existence.
The workshop will consider the links between a personal connection to Nature and some of the wider
issues of sustainability and global awareness. Two projects which have been developed in Britain, the
John Muir Award and the Global Outdoors project will be presented as contributing to this bigger
picture. These will be demonstrated through some simple outdoor activities designed to raise
awareness and question our values.
Beyond Environmental Education- the British context
The term environmental education was introduced in the 1960's in Britain but its development can be
traced to earlier environmental thinking in natural science, rural studies, fieldwork, countryside
conservation and urban studies. It is commonly accepted that environmental education should include
opportunities for learning about, learning in or through and learning for the environment.
Most definitions now consider it as a process of learning that raises awareness, develops
understanding and skills, clarifies attitudes and values and crucially leads to action for the
I have argued for some time that outdoor learning is a powerful means of promoting environmental
education (see for example, Cooper, 1994). For decades many outdoor and environmental
organizations tried, with limited success, to gain recognition for environmental education in the formal
school curriculum. Its acceptance has suffered further from the introduction of the National
Curriculum, the decline of topic-based work and the concentration on literacy and numeracy.
Sustainable development- a broader concept
The term sustainable development has become increasingly important as a concept since the United
Nations Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, when governments throughout the world drew up priorities for
action on environment and development. Education for Sustainable Development has received
government support in Britain for a number of years and it is now a cross-curriculum dimension in
schools in England, Wales and Scotland.
There have been many attempts to define sustainable development. An early definition and one often
quoted is: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their needs” (Brundtland Report, 1987). More recent definitions have stressed the
importance of improving the quality of our lives without harming the ecosystems we depend upon.
Sustainable development is not just about conserving environments and maintaining biodiversity. It is
also about the relationships between people on the planet and the term global dimension (England) or
global citizenship (Wales) has been added to encompass the bigger picture of the world we live in and
help schools make connections between the natural, social, economic and political domains. This area
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
of learning includes understanding the arguments for sharing resources more equitably and for
improving the quality of our lives in terms of access to health care, education, justice, work, leisure
and democracy. It is about caring for people from all sections of society and countries of the world. It
is concerned with both present and future generations. It implies the need for an ethic based on cooperation rather than competition, quality of life rather than standard of living and community rather
than individual interest. I believe outdoor educators can play a key role in presenting this ethic and in
challenging some of the excesses of our consumer society.
Education for sustainable development is therefore a broader concept than environmental education
and includes aspects of personal and social education, citizenship, economic understanding, global
awareness and ethical considerations.
What we can offer through Outdoor Learning
Whist it is fairly obvious how outdoor learning can contribute to environmental education, the links
with sustainable development and global awareness are less apparent. Nevertheless, I believe outdoor
learning can play a critical role in this process. The outdoors is an extremely powerful focus for
learning through direct experience using the hand, heart and head. It places young people in real
situations and it encourages them to take responsibility and reflect on their actions. Motivation and
learning comes easy when you need to keep your boat afloat, cook a meal or build a shelter. This
experiential approach has long been recognised as a powerful means of learning, especially when it is
processed through a learning cycle of “plan, do and review”.
The outdoors allows for different learning styles. It offers possibilities to all types of learners, those
with visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learning preferences. Young people who underachieve in more
formal situations such as classrooms can often benefit from the flexibility of outdoor learning
methods. This encourages motivation, confidence and more positive attitudes to learning which are
fundamental to education for sustainable development.
Outdoor education is not restricted by subject boundaries but can adopt an interdisciplinary approach
making use of knowledge from the arts and sciences. It lends itself to systemic thinking where the
understanding of interrelationships becomes more important than the analysis of one part of the
system. So for example, through the outdoors it is possible to appreciate the intricate links in a food
web or how land use patterns have emerged through the interplay of geology, vegetation and human
activities rather than taking the more usual, “bookish” linear analysis that looks at the structure of an
animal or the chemical composition of a rock. This way of thinking is particularly important to
education for sustainable development with its emphasis on connections; how we relate to other
species on the planet and how we interact as local, national and global communities.
Outdoor learning, whether through adventurous activities, fieldwork, nature study or conservation
work, lends itself to issue-based approaches or philosophical enquiry which help to focus systemic
thinking, allowing us to keep a big picture framework. To take an example, we can pose the question“What is the future of our uplands in Britain?” or more contentiously, “Should we leave the uplands to
re-wild?” These simple questions raise a host of issues and debating points. Do we want our uplands to
provide more food or trees for fuel? Or do we want them for conservation and biodiversity? If the
latter is the case are we happy for heather moorland to be managed for grouse shooting? Should our
uplands be managed as a carbon sink or for renewable energy in the form of wind farms? And what
about the wonderful opportunities the mountains and moorlands give us for recreation and outdoor
education and the mental and physical benefits that follow? These are simple questions but they lead
to complex choices and repercussions. It takes us into the realm of considering our society’s existing
values and determining the values we need to adopt for more sustainable lifestyles.
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I believe that our work in outdoor education is about values and that we should look for opportunities
to question our beliefs and help young people clarify their own attitudes and values. If we ignore this
then we lose sight of the big picture and the potential for outdoor education to contribute to more
sustainable living.
Core Values
Values can be considered as underlying beliefs and principles that shape our attitudes and behaviour.
The dominant value system in Western countries is based largely on social position as indicated by
external appearance and material possessions.
There are, however, higher “core” values recognised by many different cultures throughout the world
that form the basis for a more peaceful and fulfilling life. The key point is that these same values
underpin the concept of sustainability.
Writers from the time of the ancient philosophers have considered the importance of higher values in
guiding our lives. Plato, for example, argued that the three deepest values were goodness, truth and
beauty and that by adopting these values people can transcend self-interest. In Buddhist teachings
nature and people are inseparable, so that a decline in ethics leads to a deterioration in the
environment. Other writers suggest that we can learn from direct experience of nature. David Orr
(1994), for example, believes that the earth can teach us essential values such as silence, humility,
holiness, connectedness, courtesy, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness. Similarly,
in his recent book, “Spirit of Adventure”, Colin Mortlock identifies five pillars of wisdom from nature.
He goes on to define a set of virtues and values and presents these as a creed for individuals and
organisations to adopt.
Writings such as these provide a valuable structure or guidance for us to explore our own beliefs and
principles. They show alternatives to a value system based on consumerism, greed and selfishness.
Although some outdoor leaders may enjoy the conformity of an ideology or code of values, others will
be more comfortable in providing opportunities for young people to reflect on and clarify their own
Contribution of outdoor leaders
Outdoor leaders have several advantages when working with young people. They often work with
small, well-motivated groups in informal situations. Unlike classroom teachers they do not face the
constraints of the formal curriculum, exams, timetables or the bell. They have novelty, enthusiasm
and work in interesting and challenging environments. As a result their actions can be influential and
Outdoor leaders have for many years recognised the value of their work in personal and social
development. These skills are fundamental and form the basis of good citizenship. However, there
may be an even more important area of work concerned with encouraging young people to explore
their own values. This may lead to commitment in changing personal and social behaviour towards
more sustainable lifestyles.
It should be possible for leaders to address many core values through their work but clearly some may
be easier to explore in outdoor education. I would like to suggest a few examples:
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The outdoors provides opportunities to experience freedom, happiness and humility through contacts
with the natural world. We can respond to the elements – wind, water, rock, sky – and the natural
rhythms and begin to appreciate the interdependency of life on the planet. This may help to rebuild
our connections with the earth, we can see ourselves as part of nature rather than apart from it. For
some this could be the key to gaining commitment for the environment.
Learning in schools is often based on competition. This may be appropriate to train a top class athlete
or a university professor but it is totally inadequate for educating for community living in a rapidly
changing society. Teamwork and co-operation can be developed in many ways in the outdoors, for
example through problem solving activities, group fieldwork and expeditions. Trust and empathy can
result from living and working together in a small group. Such values are transferable and of
fundamental importance to sustainable living.
Outdoor education often places young people in situations where they have to take responsibility for
their own actions. They may experience real situations where failure to act responsibly will have
unfortunate consequences for themselves and others in their group. Peter Higgins (2006) has argued
that taking responsibility is a more worthwhile aim for outdoor learning than developing self-esteem.
In Western countries, we all need to take more responsibility for our lifestyles if we wish to sustain the
earth’s resources and distribute them more fairly.
4. Tolerance
Being in the outdoors we confront real issues, for example there may be land use conflicts such as the
need to protect an ancient woodland threatened by a new road or the impact of a wind farm on a small
community weighed against the benefits of renewable energy. Through investigation, critical thinking
and role-play we can begin to explore the complexities of such issues, appreciate the underlying social,
economic and political pressures and make our own judgements. Exploring real issues helps to clarify
our own values and may lead to more tolerant attitudes to other points of view.
In a classic article in 1996, Chris Loynes argued that outdoor adventure is being packaged and
commercialised and this process dissociates people from their experience of community and place.
There is, however, the opportunity in the outdoors to experience a simpler, healthier and less
commercialised existence. Wild or quiet places can provide an antidote to a screen culture that
emphasises speed, glamour and glitz. The outdoors allows us to step outside of our everyday
existence. There is time to reflect, to put our lives into perspective, to consider our values. Outdoor
leaders are in a position to address the differences between needs and wants. They can introduce
young people to the idea of ‘quality of life’ as opposed to the quantity of income and material
possessions. This concept may be a key mechanism with which to discuss and challenge values.
6. Reflection
Experiences in the outdoors provide many opportunities for reflection. In a society based on constant
noise and action there is a fundamental need to have time and space for reflection. This is vital to our
mental and physical health and allows us to develop our sense of values. Reflection is relevant to all
aspects of our lives and constant reviewing and planning helps us to cope with change.
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These are just a few examples of how outdoor leaders can help young people address their own values
and encourage appropriate attitudes for sustainability. It should be stressed, that when it comes to
influencing others attitudes and values; our actions as leaders and how we demonstrate our own values
may be as important, if not more important than the activities themselves.
Cooper, G (1994) The Role of Outdoor Education in Education for the 21st Century, Journal of
Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership, 11 (2).
World Commission for Environment and Development (1987) Our Common Future (The Brundtland
Report), Oxford University Press.
Orr, D (1994) Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect, Washington DC:
Island Press.
Mortlock, C. (2009) The Spirit of Adventure, Kendal: Outdoor Integrity Publishing Ltd.
Higgins, P. (2006) Learning Outdoors for Our Future, paper given at Association of Heads of Outdoor
Education Centres Conference, Donegal.
Loynes, C. (1996) Adventure in a Bun, Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership, 13
Geoff Cooper is a teacher, teacher trainer and head of Wigan Council’s two outdoor education centres in the Lake District.
For many years he has been a leading advocate for outdoor education and more especially the role it can play in encouraging
environmental education and sustainability. He has promoted these ideas through his writing, training workshops, in
conferences and through day to day work with children at our outdoor education centres. He chairs the Adventure and
Environmental Awareness Group based in Cumbria which campaigns in promoting sustainable and responsible adventurous
activities. Since 1989 he has helped organise many environmental projects and co-operations across Europe through the
“TOUCH” organisation.
Some of this work was written up in a book I co-authored for WWF. In Britain he has been involved in setting up Eco
Centres, running the John Muir Environmental Award, several Global Outdoor Education projects and he’s a Leading
Practitioner of the Institute for Outdoor Learning. He’s author of “Outdoors with Young People- A leaders’ guide to Outdoor
activities, the Environment and Sustainability”.
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Orienteering: A Case Study in Legitimising Educational Goals through a
Holistic Approach
Kevin O’Callaghan
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland
[email protected]
The school curriculum has succeeded in compartmentalising education. The pressure on students to
succeed and get good results in order to continue on to third level has encouraged students to
“specialise” in aspects of each curriculum. This has led to compartmentalised learning. Hence, there
are limited opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. Enabling students as part of the school
curriculum to deliver outdoor activities breaks down some of these constructed barriers potentially
developing more holistic learners.
This presentation will focus on a pilot module developed and delivered in the West of Ireland based
around second level students delivering orienteering courses to primary level students in the
community. The module was based within the transition year programme in the school. The module
was initiated by parents in the local community. This bottom-up community approach has succeeded
in legitimizing and fulfilling most of the educational goals for the transition year programme, while
utilising a more holistic educational approach.
1.0 Introduction
Outdoor education within the school curriculum, suffers from being compromised, adapted and
modified to fit the various subjects within the school curricula. The intention of incorporating outdoor
learning into the curriculum is to utilise more experiential approaches and more applied ways of
bringing aspects of the curriculum to life, much of this is ‘just tampering around the edges’.
Sometimes it never goes beyond this tampering around the edges as educators become comfortable at
having stretched the curricula boundaries.
If one looks at some of the adventurous activities that comprise which are components of traditional
outdoor education within the British Isles, such as mountaineering, kayaking, orienteering, caving, etc.
they are often regarded as recreational or simply activities, something to partake in, to get everyone
involved, hence they often aligned within the remit of Physical Education (PE). Other activities such
as orienteering or hillwalking which have more ‘academic’ / technical components such as navigation
are sometimes incorporated or adapted to fit part of the geography curriculum. Therefore Outdoor
Education is subordinated to the demands of other ‘mainstream subjects’. What is missing is any sense
that the activities are so much more and may be a more genuine holistic curriculum in their own right.
Mortlock (1998) addressed this issue directly while addressing the launch of the new Irish Junior
Cycle PE (JCPE) curriculum in 1998. He thought it appalling that educationalists were happy at the
inclusion of the then new ‘adventure activities’ module within the new Junior Cycle PE curriculum,
his argument was that PE was after all just a small component of outdoor education.
This paper is an exploration of how outdoor education (oe) can be included in the curriculum without
being confined / compromised within a ‘main stream’ subject. A case study is presented on how an
orienteering programme undertaken with a transition year group of post-primary students maybe
utilised to achieve the learning objectives of a mainstream programme of study. This is a case study to
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develop a methodology of how oe may be incorporated into main stream education to deliver a more
holistic curriculum experience.
In this paper the author will look at utilising orienteering as a means of delivering a more holistic
curriculum within the context of the transition year in Irish post primary education.
2.0 Outdoor Education in an Irish Context
In Ireland outdoor education has a slightly anomalous position. There are 12 state funded Outdoor
Education Centres which fall under the auspices of each of their respective local Vocational
Educational Committees (VECs). These VECs are organised primarily on a county basis and are in
turn funded by the Department of Education and Science.
There is no centrally defined policy for outdoor education in Ireland. Within the post-primary
curriculum there are modules of adventure activities in the JCPE syllabus, however these are not
compulsory. Some schools do operate extensive OE programmes, but these are usually driven by
individual members of staff, rather than a coherently developed ethos or policy from the school. In
addition the OE centres each operate as autonomous units.
The outdoor sector as a whole in Ireland is a lot larger, with in excess of 280 operators. While many of
the schools utilise the OE centres for their programmes, many do not differentiate between the private
operators and the state centres, though there is often a price differentiation. Hence many participants
do not and cannot differentiate between outdoor education and adventure activities for purely
recreational purposes.
2.1 The transition year
Post-primary education in Ireland usually is of 5 years duration. It is divided into a junior cycle
programme of three years duration at the end of which is a state examination. Following on from this
is a two year senior cycle of two years duration. Schools have the option of offering a transition year
between the junior and senior cycles. Hence “..Transition Year is an optional one-year, school-based
programme between Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle. It is designed to act as a bridge between the two
by facilitating the smooth transition from the more dependent learning of the Junior Cycle to the more
independent self-directed learning required for the Senior Cycle”, (www.curriculumonline.ie).
The transition year (TY) programme in Ireland is available to all schools and is currently offered in
approximately 75% of schools and is optional for students in most schools, (www.NCCA.ie). The
mission of the TY programme is:
“To promote the personal, social, educational and vocational development of pupils and to prepare
them for their role as autonomous, participative and responsible members of society.”
While the overall aims of the TY programme are:
(1) Education for maturity with the emphasis on personal development including social awareness and
increased social competence.
(2) The promotion of general, technical and academic skills with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and
selfdirected learning.
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(3) Education through experience of adult and working life as a basis for personal development and
The aims and philosophy of Transition Year should permeate the entire school.
The school guidelines go on to recommend that the goals and objectives of the programme are best
achieved by:
_ negotiated learning;
_ personal responsibility in learning;
_ activity-based learning;
_ integration of appropriate areas of learning;
_ team teaching approaches;
_ group work: discussion, debate, interview, role play;
_ project work and research;
_ visiting speakers and seminars;
_ study visits and field trips;
_ work experience, work simulation, community service.
Schools have the flexibility to develop their own TY programme, within guidelines. In developing
their programmes the schools are expected to be cognisant of the student’s needs and possibilities
offered by local communities. While there is no state examination at the end of TY, assessments are
carried out on an on-going basis and tend to utilise assessments methodologies other than terminal
written examinations. As part of an on-going review of the senior cycle in Irish post primary
education, there has been a move by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to
develop ‘transition units’, which are 45 hour courses which may be delivered within the TY.
3.0 The Project
The author was approached by representatives of a local post primary school about the feasibility of
delivering an outdoor component as part of the TY programme. Prior to this, the author was already
engaged in trying to introduce orienteering to primary schools within the area. Hence, a TY
programme was developed around the rich task of ‘the TY students delivering orienteering
programmes to the primary schools within the locality’.
The reason the author was approached was due to a prior involvement with an existing community
based adventure club (The GOYA Gang). The initiative to start the club came from an initiative of a
former PE teacher and representatives of the parents committee within the same school.
In addition to creating an opportunity to utilising the delivery of an adventure activity as both a rich
task and educational opportunity for the students it was also seen as an opportunistic service learning
experience for the school.
3.1 Rich Tasks
The rich task “…is a reconceptualisation of the notion of outcome as demonstration or display of
mastery; that is, students display their understandings, knowledge and skills through performance on
transdisciplinary activities that have an obvious connection to the wide world”,
(Http://education.qld.gov.au). Rich tasks usually includes communication, interpersonal development,
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thinking, integration of different learning, collaboration and the task ought to be relevant and useful.
The rich task of getting the TY students to deliver an orienteering module to the local primary school
students appeared to be an ideal match and would also augment work already underway.
In setting the rich task in this project, it overcomes the possible compartmentalisation and
fragmentation of OE within subject boundaries by designing a challenge that is trans-disciplinary.
While the pedagogy is quiet outcomes focussed it allows for a wide range of outcomes to be identified
across many disciplines. The realisation of a conceptual understanding is at the heart of Rich tasks.
In educational work the term ‘integrated teaching’ is sometimes used in connection with rich tasks.
Some authors (Virtue et al 2009, Kesson & Oyler 1999) advocate parallel integration, for teachers not
willing to take the initial full plunge when using rich tasks. Much of this begins to suggest that
mainstream education is rationalising the OE approach but using its own nomenclature.
The aim of the project was…”to provide the transition year students with an outdoor learning
opportunity that could be facilitated within the school and would created outdoor learning
opportunities for other students”.
The Rich Task for the project was to have the TY students delivering orienteering programmes to
primary students within the locality. The outcomes of the rich task developed were for the TY students
Be able to work in groups and allocate tasks within the groups
Be able to orienteer proficiently themselves
Plan and structure a suitable beginners orienteering programme for each school
Be capable to delivering components of the primary school orienteering curriculum
Be competent at organising and managing groups of younger students
Liase and organise dates with both students and parents supporting the programme
3.2 The Sample Group
The sample group were eight female TY students between the ages of 15 and 16. The target students
for the rich task were primarily 5th class students (usually aged between 10 and 11), however due to
the small numbers within some of the more rural schools the groups sometimes incorporated 4th / 5th
and 6th classes, spanning an age range from 9 to 12 years of age.
3.3 The Programme
The programme had six stages. These were as follows:
Stage 1. Developing proficiency
This stage involved the author delivering an orienteering programme to the TY students in their school
over the course of a day. This programme covered all of the post primary syllabus and culminated in a
number of different types of event in the school grounds.
Stage 2. Developing the trainer
A week later a day was spent teaching the students how to use session planners, how to manage
groups, giving presentations and speaking in front of groups. A work plan was then devised and
agreed with the students.
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Stage 3. Consolidation
The TY students estimated that they required a month to prepare, develop their own resources and
plan the programmes. At the end of this period, they undertook a pilot delivery to the first year
students within their own school. This was supervised by two parents. A review was conducted and
some areas for improvement were identified.
Stage 4 . Mapping
In tandem with the first four stages the author mapped the primary schools within the local area, which
would be involved in the project. In all eight primary schools were mapped. In advance of the
mapping the students contacted schools within the local areas and identified which schools would be
interested in partaking in the project. This is how the schools were identified. Most of these schools
were where the TY students had attended primary school.
Stage 5. The deliveries
Six weeks later the TY students began their deliveries over a four week period. The TY group were
split into two groups of four and each allocated four schools. Two parents supported this and in
addition to providing logistical support, they also provided feedback to each group following each
Stage 6. The event
At the end of the programme the schools were invited to an event in a local park. While not all schools
could attend due to various commitments, 140 students competed on the day. The event was planned
by the author, but run and supported by the TY students.
4.0 Review of the project
The project will be reviewed from both a TY student perspective and the authors perspective. After the
last delivery the author met with the TY students to conduct a review of the programme, within the
context of the TY programme.
4.1 Student perspective on the programme
Following the delivery to the last school a brief oral and written review was conducted with the
students. This review utilised a simple Facts-Feelings-Findings-Futures review model.
The facts part of the review utilised an oral discussion format with the group, while the remaining
Feelings / Findings /Futures part of the review utilised a written response sheets, which the students
completed. A brief summation of the points raised during this review are presented.
4.1.1 Facts
This part of the review was run as a chronological narrative of the project which the author began and
each TY students added a sentence detailing what happened next. This took four rounds of the group
and invoked a series of comments, sighs, and guffaws of laughter at various places within the
Following on from this oral narrative the Feelings – Findings – Futures part of the review was
conducted using structured questionnaire, in which the TY students all wrote their replies. These were
then collected by the author. The results collated and are presented under the following three headings
Feelings – Facts and Futures.
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4.1.2 Feelings
‘Enjoyment’, ‘Going to the primary schools and teaching’(x4), ‘ visiting the primary schools and
teaching’, ‘playing games with the children, i.e. symbol relay, etc.’, ‘Doing the events with the kids
and helping them when they were lost’, ‘At the first school I was a bit nervous when explaining to the
children. I felt happy when I saw they were enjoying it. I felt confusion and tension if I made a
mistake when doing the games with them.’, ‘ Helping the kids individually while doing activities’,
‘Sometimes a little nervous but more excited about teaching them’.
Feelings experienced: ‘Nervous at first school to feeling satisfied and happy after’, ‘happiness and
satisfaction (I had successfully delivered a piece of information which the children were able to
understand and act upon)’, ‘Happiness, sense of achievement’, ‘Nervousness but after I felt
satisfaction and happiness’(x2), Confidence, satisfaction, nervous’, ‘
Positive aspects of the programme: ‘teaching’(x5), ‘talking with the kids’, ’smooth organisation’,
‘working as a group’, ‘ working outside’, ‘satisfaction when finished teaching’, ‘Speaking in front of a
group’, ’Playing games with the children’ (x2), ‘ taking initiative’, ‘school visits’, doing the
training’,’ when everything worked out’, ‘when the kids enjoyed it’, ‘feedback’, ‘being organised
enough to teach younger children’, ‘the satisfaction in knowing you can manage / control a group’, ’
having a group of children pay attention to you’.
Regrets: ‘Not being organised enough’(x4), ‘Missing the first day’, ‘Getting our delivery timing
incorrect’, ‘not being able to put friends together in the school groups’, ‘Not enough games’, ‘Not
putting in enough work’
The least positive aspects of the programme were: ‘Dealing with rowdy school’(x2), ‘Having to do a
plan’, ‘Organising ourselves’, ‘a designated teacher from the school and designated class time would
have been better’, ‘some feedback was harsh, I would have preferred to have received it in a more
helpful way’
4.1.3 Findings
All thought the teaching in the schools to be the most successful part of the programme with other than
two TY students. One of these identified the symbol relay as the most successful part of the
programme with the other identifying the events in the school grounds as the most successful part of
the programme. In identifying why it was the most successful they said, ‘because the children enjoyed
being outside, it brought all their knowledge together and they worked competitively.’
Some key experiences for the TY students during the programme were:
‘Doing the course myself and really enjoying it’, ‘Working with a girl with a learning disability’,
‘Developing a comfort with working with a student with a disability’, ‘Dealing with children’,
‘Teaching orienteering in the primary schools, learned how to deal with and treat younger children.
First time to be put in a teaching role in front of kids’, ‘Seeing the kids enjoying doing the activities’,
‘In first school when some of children actually came up to me and thanked me personally’, ‘One kid
showed us his art notepad and his other drawings. It was like he liked us enough to show off his other
interests’. ‘Enjoyment and sense of achievement’, ‘In visiting schools I realised it had to be fast paced
to keep the children focussed’, ‘Some children didn’t grasp what was to be done, you had to explain it
in an easier way the second time’.
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During the programme the TY students identified the following learning when:
Working with a group of peers
‘You have to help each other when you feel they need it’, ‘It helps to have your peers as moral
support’, ‘That everybody need to be constantly looking out to see if anyone needs help’, ‘If we’re
organised well it can be very easy to work alongside a group of peers’, ‘Need to talk everything
through so everyone is on the same page and knows what is happening’
ii. Working with young people
‘You have to keep things simple. Make it fun and fast paced to keep them focussed’, ‘They learn best
through fun’, ‘I really enjoyed it as I love young people and teaching them’, ‘You need to relate to
them and use terms they understand’, ‘learnt ho to keep control, how to treat them, and that they must
be kept occupied so they don’t get bored’, ‘You need to treat them with respect, but keep your
authority’, ‘its’ interesting and enjoyable and I now know how important it is to explain everything
clearly with a sense of fun to it’, ‘Think from their point of view, it is important when it comes to
teaching them.
iii. Relating and working with
a. Adults
‘They helped a lot. Gave us a lot of pointers in where to improve’, ‘Frustration, it is hard to deal with
as you cannot be cheeky when telling them something’, ‘Very helpful and that discussing things gives
a better result next time around’, ‘They know the kids better than you, but you know orienteering
better than them’, ‘They trust you so have confidence’, ‘… was brilliant with us, she let us do our
lesson and was always there if there was a pause or any uncertainty‘
b. teachers
‘Almost all teachers helped or also participated in the orienteering. I found them easy to work with’,
‘The teachers were very helpful in organising the class and helping with the delivery’, ‘It helps when
teachers are more involved in the lessons’, ‘Some were more enthusiastic than others which made it
easier to work with them’
iv. What else have you learnt
‘That you need to be very patient and not become frustrated as it messes the delivery up’, ‘As long as
you are confident the kids will love you. You just got to keep up with their pace’, ‘To always think
ahead so everything runs smoothly’, ‘There are huge variations in the teaching styles needed for
different age groups’
The TY student students were asked to rate any change they thought had occurred specific skills. A
summary of these changes are outlined in the table below. On rating the change on a scale of 1 to 5, 1
was no change, while 5 was a dramatic change.
Area of change
How you address groups
How you would go an organise and event in the community
How you negotiate within a group
How to deal and address issues of non-participation
Your presentation skills
Your Orienteering skills
Average change
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Other skill areas
All of the students identified a number of different subject areas they had to draw upon. These are
outlined in the table below:
Subject area
Public Speaking / Drama
Computer skills
Summarising & Simplifying
No. of mentions
4.1.4 Futures
All TY students if given the opportunity would participate in a similar type programme again. The
reasons being ..’I enjoy teaching and I love outdoor sports, its’ something I am good at.’, ‘It was
really enjoyable and I liked presenting to the younger kids, and it was a great experience that was
truly invaluable’, ‘because you learn a lot through teaching, its’ fun and rewarding’, ‘because I really
enjoyed doing the programme, and it helped me loads’, ‘I thoroughly enjoyed orienteering with the
children and am very sad it is over’, ‘ I really enjoyed this programme and it was very successful’, ‘I
thoroughly enjoyed the programme and felt it was beneficial’.
In how you could organise yourselves to work better in the future: ‘prepare well in advance’, More
games, quicker transitions to the sections, more events’, ‘ Really think things through and test them in
advance’, ‘By giving each person a certain job, rather than giving a task to the group’, ‘ make sure
every student is able to deliver each of the modules’, ’ listen and pay attention’.
Asked about what would you like to change in how you interacted with class peers, the comments
were: ‘share the workload in delivering to primary schools, even though I feel it was evenly
distributed in our group’, ‘more supportive’, ‘take more notes so everybody is sure about what they
are doing’, ‘ Take part more in the other lessons’, ‘ we got more in tune with each other as it west on,
but we need that from the beginning’.
4.2 Authors reflection on the programme
Following the first two stages of the programme the author only had one opportunity to observe one
group at the conclusion of stage 5 of the programme. Overall it was felt that the programme was
moderately successful in that:
1. Over 180 primary school students received an introduction to orienteering
2. Nine schools, eight of them primary received an orienteering map and had a chance to observe
how to run an orienteering programme within the school grounds
3. One hundred and forty students who had previously only orienteered within their school
grounds took part in an event at a local park, with only four candidates requiring substantial
While the TY students did not have the depth or spread of experience of a professionally qualified
orienteering instructor, they taught correctly and at a level suitable to the needs of the group.
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5.0 Discussion
The discussion will address three different areas, the TY students’ comments from the review, the
author’s reflection on the project and on overview of the project.
5.1 Discussion of the TY students comments
The comments offered by the TY students in the feelings section was almost all positive. ‘One of the
best aspects of the programme was going away from their own school to a different school
environment and working outside’. The other positive aspects were from close experiences with
others, .’working as a group, playing games…’., ‘ teaching, talking with kids’, etc. Some of this was
due to a sense of empowerment ‘… being organised enough to teach…..’, ‘ the satisfaction of knowing
that you can manage…..’. while other was due to positive feedback received indirectly through body
language from the participants to the more direct feedback, ‘some of children actually came up to me
and thanked me personally’.
The other factor that appears to be at play is a sense of empathy the TY students feel with the children.
This is particularly evident in the comments on regrets… not being able to put friends together in the
school groups.
The least positive aspects invoked some interesting responses. The comment on harsh feedback will be
addressed later as will the comment on designated staff which is structural issue. Putting structure on
things for the TY students is an issue, ‘..having to do a plan…’, ’.. organising ourselves..’. Similarly
tied in with this is having to sanction / deal with rowdy behaviour. Again this involves the TY student
having to assert both themselves and their authority, which will inevitably break the relationship they
perceived to be building with the students, this sense of relationship is evident in the following: ‘One
kid showed us his art notepad and his other drawings. It was like he liked us enough to show off his
other interests’.
In the finding section of the TY students review, a number of items were identified.
When working in groups the respondents comments reflected an awareness of being cognisant of what
was happening with others within the group and the need to support one another. Similarly the
learning expressed in relation to dealing with young people was astute and accurate: ‘its’ interesting
and enjoyable and I now know how important it is to explain everything clearly with a sense of fun to
it’, ‘Think from their point of view, it is important when it comes to teaching them’, ‘You have to keep
things simple. Make it fun and fast paced to keep them focussed’. These observations are interesting as
no teaching principles or theory were covered during the programme, It may be that the unique role
reversal which these students experienced for this project made them the real and experienced expert
through first hand experience!
Similarly when one examines their other learning it could easily read as a list of top tips for any
outdoor instructor going to work with a group of minors.
In terms of the participant’s personal learning / skills, the area that they believe to have improved upon
most during the project was their orienteering skills, followed by their presentation skills and how to
deal with issues of non-participation. This last area is vague and be should be explored more as it
could be interpreted as non participation within the TY group or non-participation in the primary
school children.
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Similarly the following question regarding the subject areas that they drew upon during the project is
leading as it suggests some of the subject areas which they inevitably mention. Hence the data from
this is questionable.
The futures part of the review was designed to get some feedback on how to alter the programme if
run in the future. Most of comments centred on how the TY group itself interacted. There is some
variance within the comments between all three written areas.
Some want the organiser to delegate more of the tasks to specific individuals (By giving each person a
certain job, rather than giving a task to the group) and also want the organiser to ensure that they are
adequately prepared (make sure every student is able to deliver each of the module, Set strict deadlines
to ensure the students are always prepared ). This may suggests that some are unhappy with the
participation of some individuals and think that utilising a more authoritative figure to delegate tasks
may have better results by getting other to take more responsibility. To have the organiser intervene
this much will result in less ownership of the programme and could dilute the learning they have
achieved. Most have already acknowledged that they didn’t prepare enough with four TY students
identifying in the regrets section regretting ‘Not being organised enough’ and another one regretting
‘not putting in enough work’.
One of the outcomes of the rich task was to:
Be able to work in groups and allocate tasks within the groups
For one of the adults involved in the programme to have allocated tasks more specifically would
definitely have undermined this outcome. From the TY student comments it is evident that there is a
recognition that there are issues in this area, however in view of the fact that they carried out the rich
task they must have achieved the learning outcome with some level of success.
Within all group work people slacking is an issue. The earlier people realise this and develop
mechanisms to address it the better. Most even at a much later stage in life often many will not address
the issues of slackers or of non-delegation of tasks within groups and more importantly developing a
back-up plan.
Two earlier structural issues regarding the programme were highlighted in the respondents relies. One
of these was over harsh feedback, while the other was over a designated teacher.
The feedback issue may be addressed by providing training to the observers. Both of the parents
utilised for this role were both experienced facilitators and one of the earlier comment reflected this,
‘… was brilliant with us, she let us do our lesson and was always there if there was a pause or any
uncertainty’. While it is not possible to explore this issue further, it may be as simple as someone
taking something too much to heart.
In an ideal scenario there would be a designated teacher or expert within the school, to facilitate this
programme, however, such a resource may also have a disempowering influence as the TY students do
not have to negotiate time and could come to rely on the person as a crutch and may abdicate some of
their decision making and other negotiations that occur within the group.
5.2 The author’s reflection
The success of the exercise in getting students orienteering in their school environs is indisputable.
Neither is there an issue with the applying the train the pedagogical approach utilised. However as this
was the pilot the project and some outcomes evolved over time, hence there is a case for putting more
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structure on the programme hence, there is no ambiguity with the TY students as regards boundaries
of responsibility and expectations of the different parties.
The review conducted at the end of the initial programme was designed and conducted in haste,
therefore a new method and review for the project need to be developed.
5.3 Overview of the project
This project was initiated to develop an outdoor component to the transition year programme in a local
post primary school. The programme was designed around utilising the TY students to increase
orienteering participation levels in the community. In so doing the TY students developed a practical
orienteering competency which fulfilled the schools requirement in terms of having an outdoor
component in their transition year. In addition eight local schools also benefited by having an
orienteering programme delivered to them and had the additional benefit of receiving a specific
orienteering map for their school grounds.
On the outside it appears as a standard outdoor activity, however from the brief review conducted with
the TY students, it was a lot more. It readily fulfils the three overall aims of the TY programme.
While the overall aims of the TY curriculum are:
(1) Education for maturity with the emphasis on personal development including social awareness and
increased social competence.
(2) The promotion of general, technical and academic skills with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and
self directed learning.
(3) Education through experience of adult and working life as a basis for personal development and
In the curriculum goes on to recommend that these aims and objectives may be met by:
_ negotiated learning;
_ personal responsibility in learning;
_ activity-based learning;
_ integration of appropriate areas of learning;
_ team teaching approaches;
_ group work: discussion, debate, interview, role play;
_ project work and research;
_ visiting speakers and seminars;
_ study visits and field trips;
_ work experience, work simulation, community service.
All of the above bar negotiated learning were explicit in the orienteering project.
6.0 Conclusion
Reviewing the findings of the TY students and their observation on the programme, it is evident that
the programme while conducted within the formal setting of the school and within allocated time slots
drew on diverse areas of the curriculum, both directly and indirectly. Therefore it would appear that an
outdoor programme can offer a more holistic means of education within a formal programme of study.
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More importantly the outdoor learning set in this case study was not compromised to meet the needs
and outcomes of the curriculum. One of the key requirements to achieve a holistic approach is have
the outdoor element as end product rather than compromising the potential of outdoor learning by
fragmenting and compartmentalising it.
The utilisation of rich tasks within the curriculum suggests that main stream education is adopting an
outdoor education approach but utilising their own nomenclature for the process. Hence adopting this
new nomenclature may offer the potential of maintaining the holistic approach of outdoor education
which we as practitioners cherish, as long as we become au fait with the new vocabulary.
As educators begin implementing these ‘new’ approaches, caution is urged as developing holistic
experiences in an outdoor context requires substantial planning, some infrastructural input in addition
to other more informal supports. If these ‘minor’ issues are not addressed we may come full circle
once more with a fragmented and compartmentalised curriculum.
Baker, G. (2009) Orienteering in schools. Orienteering North America, Feb/ Mar 2009
Bohnenberger, J. E., & Terry, A. W. (2002). Community problem solving works for middle level
students. Middle School Journal, 34(1), 5–12.
Bradford, D. (1977) Incorporating Orienteering in school programmes, NELPI,
Education Queensland. (2010) New Basics, the why, what and when of Rich Tasks. Queensland State
Griffin, P. (2009). What makes a rich Task. Mathematics teaching, (212), pgs 32-34.
Keane, E. (2009). Orienteering.
Virtue, D.C, Wilson, J.L., & Ingram, N. (2009). In Overcoming Obstacles to Curriculum Integration,
L.E.S.S. Can Be More! Middle School Journal, Vol 40, No. 3, Pgs 4-11
Kevin O’Callaghan is a lecturer in Outdoor Education in GMIT Castlebar and co-ordinates the BA(Hon.s) programme in
Outdoor Education. Kevin has been involved in the outdoors 1980 both as a participant and later as an instructor and
educator. His background is in the natural sciences and has been lecturing in GMIT since 1997.
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Pedagogies in the Outdoors: A Tale of Two(?) Places
Sue Waite
University of Plymouth, Faculty of Education, United Kingdom
[email protected]
How do adults and children interact with places in co-constructing the teaching and learning that
happen in them? This presentation will explore some pedagogical practices drawing on two research
projects from the South West of England.
The first study is set in a mainstream primary school (with pupils aged 4-6 years) located in an urban
environment where children engage in outdoor learning in a variety of contexts. The second study
focuses on a special curriculum (for pupils aged between 9 and 14 years) developed in a middle
school located in a National Park, which deliberately attempts to connect children with their local
Research methods include observation, focus group interviews with the children, and interviews with
the teachers and documentary analysis. In the first study, unusual insight into the micro-context of
pedagogy is gained through audio-recordings from digital recorders worn by children as they go
about their play and work in primary school.
In this paper I will make some initial comparisons between the two places and the pedagogies we have
observed and reflect upon the role of culture in shaping these. I welcome feedback from the
perspectives of other cultures and experiences on our tentative exploration.
A story of pedagogy and places
This paper explores some pedagogical practices drawing on two research projects from the South West
of England. Cultural practices appear to shape the sorts of pedagogies that are prevalent in different
contexts. ‘Outdoors’ is far from a homogeneous entity; furthermore meaning and significance of
different spaces vary for people and therefore afford different opportunities. Our two places are not
only geographically placed but also placed within the methodological frames for our research studies
and, like Russian dolls, they are nested within multiple understandings of place and further positions
nest inside them.
My title raises the contentious issue of what might properly be considered as ‘place’. Tuan (1977)
argues that space is converted to ‘place’ by the meanings attributed to it by individuals. In these two
studies, the concept of ‘place’ has fine distinctions related to the cultural meaning that different areas
have for people. The concept of ‘Outside’ is infused with cultural and historical meaning but this
meaning is often not a singular shared understanding but encompasses multiple, shifting and complex
positions. For example, the functional purpose of an area for children (Fjortoft, 2001) leads to certain
expectations from it, which can then be complicated by adults’ alternative cultural overlay of
schooling but this is also refracted through the mediation of different roles and histories of facilitators.
Thus, the two ‘places’ that are the notional sites for the research are in fact complex and composite
places informed by the positioning of participants who bring other ‘places’ from their past and present
to them. Details of the methods used in the two studies described here are available in Waite, Nichols
and Evans (2009) and Waite (2010). In this paper I consider aspects of ‘place’ at macro, mediating and
micro levels.
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Introducing Place(s) 1
The first project is examining the transition between foundation stage and year 1 in these two schools
and whether pedagogies used in outdoor spaces might smooth that transition. The target children are
therefore between 4 and 6 years of age. In Figure 1, the nested ‘places’ of the first study are depicted.
The complexity of the concept of place is highlighted by the apparent simplicity and uniformity of
this diagram, which was used to describe the study’s design and the comparisons that would be made.
Each target child in our study has a place that is home to them, the basis of their family history and
tradition that they carry with them into the school and that is (usually) part of the wider community of
the catchment area of the school. The schools themselves are places with established patterns of
behaviour, regulated as part of a larger macro-community of national standards and guidance. Each
school has a distinct geographical and socioeconomic context. School A is in a suburban area in a
greenfield site on a hill which looks out over the fields and housing surrounding the city. The school
site itself is attractive and has different zones of activity. But it is not an affluent area; the school was
rebuilt following an arson attack a few years ago and the school still experiences vandalism from its
local estates. School B is near the city centre in a deep valley within an area of disadvantage with
housing stock of flats and houses clinging to the surrounding steep hills and the school, a secondary
school and a small park occupying the only local green space in the valley bottom. The school site has
different zones, such as upper school and lower school playgrounds. Its outdoor spaces are invested in
by the school (including buddy seats, shelter and a sleeping dragon in construction) but it has to have a
secure outer border to reduce damage to property. The two school communities are part of a single
unitary authority (single city local authority) which includes some of the most deprived areas in
England. Yet this city is also in a beautiful part of the south-west peninsula of England and is
surrounded by fields, woods, moor and coastline, rich with outdoor learning opportunities.
Figure 1: The ‘Places’ in study 1 -macro, mediating and micro contexts
City in South west of England
School A (semi –suburban)
Class 1
School B (city central)
Class 1
Class 2
Class 1
Class 2
Class 1
Class 2
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In relation to Place(s) 1, the mediating contexts are the teachers’ views and values expressed in
interviews and the micro-level is the interactions between children, facilitators and places.
Mediating context – intentions for pedagogy
The macro context in this case is the national policy context which is discussed in more detail in
Waite, Nichols and Evans (2009). The school here as ‘place’ sets out intentions for learning that
mediate between their knowledge of local contexts and individual needs and the macro level national
guidance and standards. In school A, a foundation stage teacher distinguishes between child-initiated
and adult-directed to achieve their aim of broadening experiences for children. The Early Years
Foundation Stage in England emphasises child-initiated play-based learning but she moderates this
with the need to introduce new ideas and activities.
R: I think the balance for them for free choice is more than directed by the adult but I think
that sometimes you can direct them because otherwise they won’t know what it’s like, they
wouldn’t have experienced it. I can think of one little boy who would just always go on the
bikes and he’d never come and hang the washing or hold a peg unless I went ‘come and help
me I don’t know how to use it’, you just make yourself look stupid. Then they’re experiencing
that and they might really like it and then they might choose to go and do it again or they
might choose to … so sometimes there is a need for it; they need a bit of directing sometimes.
I: Yes.
R: It’s supposed to be 80% child initiated and 20% adult-directed and it probably is actually
but there is a place for directing it as well.
(FS Teacher 1, School A)
A pedagogical strategy of altering knowledge relations between child and adult by asking for
children’s help in order to engage them in learning is also evident here. The outdoors appears to afford
a different possible cultural role for the teacher, which has been noted in previous studies (e.g. Waite
and Davis, 2007).
In addition, freedom from some of the imposed agenda as mediated by the outdoor environment may
liberate children’s creative responses in ways that are readily anticipated by adults. A Year 1 teacher
in the same school noted this departure from teacher’s intentions as an adjunct of adult-planned
outdoor activities. The co-construction of pedagogy is reinforced by her attribution to the way that
children react rather than changes in the teacher’s approach.
… I don’t know just the general ethos within a classroom tends to be more constricted when
you’re working within the classroom than when you’re working outside. I’m not saying
necessarily that’s the way I work because I like them to work in that sort of way within the
classroom too but they seem to be less inhibited when they’re outside doing things and maybe
it’s slightly different when we’re talking outdoor play to organised things maybe that we are
doing outside.
I: That’s interesting.
R: You might want to do all your science outside but it’s probably more teacher led than some
of the outdoor play whereas I think an important thing of outdoor play is that you select the
activities that you make available for children because you’re hoping that they’ll get
something from it. So there is purpose it’s not ‘go out and play’ so there’s teaching involved
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there and you sort of get an idea of what you’d like the children to get from that activity. But
if they make it something different and develop it differently then that’s fine too.
(Y1 Teacher 2, School A)
Micro-contexts – co-constructions
But these intentions are then refracted by the way in which they are received by the children. An
interesting finding by Siraj-Blatchford et al (2002) in their REPEY study was that most observations
of learning deemed to be high challenge did not include adults at all. Yet, this finding is rarely
commented upon, while ‘sustained shared thinking’ is widely advocated as a particularly effective
pedagogy. When to engage with children in their playful learning seems to require high levels of
sensitivity from adults. By not acting on children’s invitations to join in, children’s learning can be
devalued; yet insensitive or non-stimulating interactions may discourage children’s desire to engage
adults in their discoveries. This underlines the importance of understanding the cultural contexts
children bring to their learning rather than always attempting to impose that of the school (Kalliaha,
2006). Place in learning is not just the here and now but suffused with imported meaning brought to it
by participants. In this example from the Foundation Stage in School B, the child has temporarily
placed a snail in a letter cube and shows an adult.
C: That’s his little house?
T: What in there?
C: I’ve got a snail in here.
T: Do you think the snail likes living in a box? Do you think the snail likes living in a box
The adult tries to encourage the adoption of her own (and the school’s) cultural attitude
towards animals.
C: Yes.
But the child sees provision of ‘a little house’ as a positive thing.
T: If you close it, Simon, it’s not going to get any air is it?
She gives a reason why it will not like being in the cube.
C: Yes. I’ve leaved a little hole. Look, look, there’s a little hole.
But the child has made provision for breathing. He knows that this living creature needs air.
T: Simon, why don’t you climb into that box and I’ll close the door?
T: If you climbed into a box and I put a lid on it, would you like that?
The adult tries to get the child to imagine themselves in similarly confined space. This is an
extension of ‘putting oneself into another’s situation’ witnessed elsewhere, where rather than
the adult expressing how they would feel they ask the child to do so.
C: I got, I got …
C: I got stuck in there …????
The child begins to see that it would not be nice to be kept in a box – Is this the beginnings of
empathy or coercion by unpleasant association?
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T: I don’t think the slug wants to be left in there, it wants its freedom.
The adult follows up a potentially rather scary idea with what it is that makes it important not
to shut creatures away in anthropomorphic terms.
T: He wants his freedom.
Is the use of a personal pronoun significant here?
C: I’m letting him free. See.
The child complies.
(Digital audio recording, observation and video, FS, School B, our commentary in italics)
Meaningful dialogue (Tovey, 2007) supports children’s thinking and learning, but relies on sharing
meaning. In the extract above, the adult declines to take on the children’s understanding of ‘home’,
i.e. as a place of security and shelter for the snail as she is concerned for the snail’s welfare! However,
contingent and flexible responses may create richer opportunities for experiential learning and
encourage interest and motivation for learning as the Year 1 teacher from School A suggested above.
Thus Early Years Foundation Stage guidance supports play-based pedagogy but for many children
entering Year 1 in England, the contrast in pedagogy is marked as opportunities to play and make
choices are reduced (Fisher, 2009). Another Year 1 teacher in School A told us, ‘they need to have so
much structure in lessons or they’re not going to achieve.’ But extending the culture of early years
pedagogy would permit more playful approaches to learning to continue to engage children’s interest.
However, playful pedagogy, which was previously held in high regard by early years educators such
as Froebel, Isaacs and McMillan (Tovey 2007: 51) has been questioned. Now even early years settings
often refer to ‘structured’, ‘directed’ and ‘purposeful play’ (Tovey 2007: 114) as if planning per se
adds value. The distinctions between these planned forms are not unambiguous, however, and run
somewhat counter to understandings of play characterised by flow and lack of imposed structure
(Bruce 1991). We have observed substantial amounts of monitorial pedagogy, where the children’s
playful exploration is arrested either because it differs from the planned intentions of the adult or
through an exaggerated perception of risk in the outdoors. It needs to be acknowledged that structure
does not just exist in adult agenda; children too structure their play through negotiation within their
own social and cultural norms (Garvey 1991; Trawick-Smith 1998).
Introducing Place(s) 2
In the second study too, place is a nested concept partly by virtue of the research design adopted. The
study was an independent evaluation of a four year place-based outdoor learning curriculum. Children
from Years 5–8 engage in weekly 2 hour activities planned to offer progression in various educational
themes connected to their local environment, including studies of habitats, map work and water skills.
Firsthand experience in an English National Park is used to establish a sense of connection with the
community, relevant and interesting education and develop self-esteem. ‘Place’ therefore in one sense
was the middle school which ran the scheme but the National Park in which the school was
geographically located formed the ‘place-base’ for the curriculum. Other ‘places’ were used for
comparison and these overlapped through geographical proximity and through the single community
college that eventually received all the pupils. The cross-sectional study sampled the place-based
curriculum school and comparison school community in year 5, year 7 and year 9/10, i.e. pupils aged
between 9 and 15.
The three schools were as follows:
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Place-based Curriculum School is the smallest middle school in Somerset with only 160 students on
roll. It is situated on the edge of the National Park. The school has a large, mostly rural catchment
area, with some areas of social disadvantage, and its wide catchment area means that many pupils have
long journeys to school. The percentage of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is above
average and the vast majority of pupils are of White British background. The school holds an
Activities Adventure Licence as part of its work for the place-based curriculum (10% of total teaching
time), which is designed to develop pupils' life skills and their understanding of their environmental
and cultural heritage.(Source: OFSTED, June 2008)
Comparison Middle School is a larger than average middle school with nearly 600 pupils on roll.
The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is in line with the national average and the
percentage of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is lower than seen nationally.
Attendance is higher than in most schools. Most of the pupils are of White British background. The
school also serves a large catchment area with some isolated rural areas and areas of social
disadvantage, so pupils may also be travelling some distance to attend. (Source: OFSTED, December
Receiving Community College is a specialist technology college of over 1,000 students located in the
same seaside town as Comparison. It is a larger than average size upper college receiving students
from three middle schools, the two mentioned above and another Middle School . Students are thus
also drawn from a wide catchment area including both the town and surrounding villages. Most are
from White British backgrounds and almost all are fluent in English. The proportion of students who
have learning difficulties and/or disabilities is average, although a few have quite complex needs
associated with emotional and behavioural difficulties or an autistic spectrum disorder. While the
percentage of students eligible for free college meals is lower than the national average, the college's
catchment area includes areas of significant deprivation. The college has its own farm unit and has
recently begun offering a range of other vocational courses. (Source: OFSTED, April 2009)
Within these schools, the year groups can be understood as ‘places’ that position the responses of the
pupils and from these focus groups of children and young people selected by staff at the school
represented the views of their peers. Individuals within the groups brought different home
backgrounds with them. They were interviewed sometimes out in the field and sometimes in the
Macro context – the aims of the place-based curriculum and national policy
The place-based curriculum aims:
To deepen pupils’ understanding of the world around them leading to the development of
responsible and caring attitudes to the environment by gaining knowledge of the moor, its
landscape, its wildlife, its history and how its people earn a living.
To develop physical and practical skills through a structured programme of activities on
the land and water.
To acquire and apply decision-making, communication and problem-solving skills
through exposure to problems and situations beyond the school environs.
To develop citizenship through personal and social skills and qualities through individual
and shared experiences.
Although some of these aims echo national policy frameworks such as citizenship, personal, social and
health education and environmental awareness, the focus is very much on developing these within the
particular place in which they live. In order for learning outside the classroom to be effective and
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sustained, Peacock (2009) argues that a Collaborative Engagement approach is required. This
approach calls for partnerships with outside agencies in all stages of the learning experience: planning,
teaching and evaluating of learning. Extended and repeated involvement rather than one-off events is
also regarded as helpful, which includes good communication between partners, staff and children and
an acceptance that all involved are learning. In this case most instruction is provided by members of
staff, so the place-based curriculum engages well with the school’s culture. However, interviews
showed that there were shifts in views of the curriculum over time.
Mediating contexts – changing perceptions of the received offer
In Table 1 we see how the different places impact over time through the cross section of time within
the study. When the pupils begin the place-based curriculum they are enthusiastic and proud of the
opportunity it represents. Learning outside the classroom is seen as more important for PSHE by
pupils at both year 5 and 7 in the place-based curriculum middle school but by year 10 the differences
are not apparent. However wider environmental awareness is strongly featured in both middle schools
but only pupils from the other feeder middle schools seem to retain this by Year 10.
Table 1
Text fragment coding frequency showing personal and interpersonal development and wider
environmental awareness
not exPBMS
Personal and
Source: NVivo 8 coding frequency analyses for study 2
In interviews, pupils from both groups and the teacher at the Receiving Community College spoke of
how the Place-Based curriculum Middle School pupils found it more difficult to integrate with the
other pupils and tended to stick together. The community development and interpersonal skills
seemed to keep them isolated in the new environment. The teacher questioned whether that curriculum
offer prepared them well for other places. Our findings indicated that there was strong staff and pupil
commitment to the curriculum while at the middle school. Pupils identified strongly with their school
and considered themselves lucky to have this unique curriculum offer. There were particular
situational factors (for example, a more circumscribed and rural catchment area and closer
involvement of the National Park Authority) regarding the school running this curriculum, which
appeared subtly different from those in the comparator middle school. Although both valued learning
outside the classroom, the link to national curriculum subjects was more pronounced in the comparator
school. Strong cultural identification within the Exmoor curriculum school appeared to conflict
somewhat with new cultural expectations when the children transferred to secondary school, where
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attainment in subjects was privileged by macro context of the national standards agenda. Teachers
talked of different life trajectories and cultural expectations that impacted on the schools’ curricula.
This strongly suggests that careful interrogation and alignment of purpose, pedagogy and place needs
to be embedded to maximise the value of tailored curriculum offers for populations of pupils for their
future lives. Relationships interact with places over time and bend and refract stated intentions and
how they are received and retained.
It may be that flexibility to respond to changes in place, time and relationships is a key aspect of how
pedagogies, including those in the outdoors, need to be framed. Although some studies (Dillon et al.,
2006) suggest carefully designed learning activities and assessment of students’ outdoor learning is
essential, Ballantyne and Packer (2002: 228) warn against over-structuring activities and suggest that
touching and interacting with wildlife is a more effective strategy than ‘the use of worksheets, notetaking and reports’. Importing indoor teaching techniques to the outdoors can reduce its capacity for
motivation through ‘hands on’ experiences (Openshaw and Whittle, 1993; Waite, 2011). Emmons’
(1997) study of a five-day field course in Belize also found that students’ learning was facilitated by
their shared and direct experience of the surroundings, although their teachers’ role-modelling of their
interests and likes about the forest environment contributed to the success of the programme.
Consequently, enthusiasm of staff and opportunities for children’s direct engagement may be more
vital to successful pedagogies than structure through macro-level policies for knowledge acquisition
that may not be relevant to pupils now or in the future. We have argued earlier that structured play
needs to acknowledge the role of children and place in that co-construction. We should add that time
and the metamorphosis of relationships between teachers and learners also contribute to that process.
However, although evidence for cognitive benefits from outdoor learning is more patchy compared to
class-based activities, Eaton (2000) has found that outdoor learning experiences were more effective
for developing cognitive skills than classroom-based learning. For example, schools which maintained
sustained cultures of active learning in the environment were studied in comparison with traditional
schools in the US (SEER, 2000). The Environment as an Integrating Concept(EIC)-based programmes
‘typically employ the environment as a comprehensive focus for learning in all areas: general and
disciplinary knowledge, thinking and problem-solving skills, basic life skills, such as cooperation and
interpersonal relations as well as understanding of one’s relationship to the environment –community
and natural surroundings’ (SEER, 2000:iii). Paired school comparisons of schools, either
implementing EIC or not, found EIC students performed better in 77% of the academic assessments
analysed, and 84% better in combined discipline and attendance assessments.
Successful EIC settings for learning had the following features:
Natural and community settings, the local environment as a context for learning
Integrated interdisciplinary instruction
Problem-, issue-based instruction
Collaborative instruction
Learner centred constructivist methods
Independent and cooperative learning.
A possible explanation of this is that the outdoor contexts provide a less constrained environment to
allow co-construction. So from these and our own studies in two places, we might conclude that a
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progression in pedagogies appropriate to temporal and spatial and relational factors is desirable. This
can best be enacted through the sensitive micro-contextualisation culturally mediated by schools’ local
knowledge of community and individual changing needs and interests.
Figure 2: Cultural mediations
Macro-context of national educational policy frameworks
Mediating context of school ethos and culture
Indeed, Brookes (2003) argues that outdoor education should no longer be understood in terms of
inherent internal traits that were positively affected by challenge in extreme outdoor experiences (the
‘character building’ school of thought such as Outward Bound, for example) but from a situational
perspective that recognises that our behaviour, feelings and learning depend on where we are
(temporally and spatially). A conceptualisation of different situational identities has the consequence
that education in different situations might help individuals to a greater understanding of themselves,
thereby increasing their adaptability, and help them to make better choices and responses in their lives.
Therefore, the process of re(constructing) relationships between individuals, communities and places
(Straker, 2003) is a more vital element of successful teaching and learning than novel experiences per
It is hoped that this paper will stimulate discussion about complex, multiple and shifting concepts of
‘place’ and their contribution to successful pedagogical practice to meet current and future needs.
Ballantyne, R. & Packer, J. (2002) Nature-based excursions: school students’ perceptions of learning
in natural environments. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education,
11(3), 218–236.
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Brookes, A. (2003) Character building. Why it doesn’t happen, why it can’t be made to happen, and
why the myth of character building is hurting the field of outdoor education. Keynote Paper
presented at 13th National Conference of Outdoor Education, Queensland, Australia, 2003.
Bruce, T. (1991) Time to play in early childhood education. London:Routledge.
Dillon, J., Rickinson, M., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Mee,Y-C., Sanders, D. and Benefield, P. (2006)
The value of outdoor learning: evidence from research in the UK and elsewhere, School Science
Review, March 2006, 87(320), 107-111.
Eaton, D. (2000) Cognitive and affective learning in outdoor education. Dissertation Abstracts
International – Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 60, 10-A, 3595.
Emmons, K. M. (1997) Perceptions of the environment while exploring the outdoors: a case study in
Belize. Environmental Education Research, 3(3), 327–344.
Fisher, J.A. (2009) ‘We used to play in Foundation, it was more funner’ : investigating feelings about
transition from foundation Stage to Year 1. Early Years, 29(2), 131-145.
Fjortoft, I. (2001) The natural environment as a playground or children: the impact of outdoor play
activities in pre-primary school children. Early Childhood Education, 29(2), 111-117.
Garvey, C. (1991) Play. Glasgow: Fontana.
Kalliala, M. (2006) PlayCulture in a Changing World. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
OFSTED, Office for Standards in Education, sundry reports available online
Openshaw, P. H. & Whittle, S. J. (1993) Ecological field teaching: how can it be made more effective?
Journal of Biological Education, 27(1), 58–66.
Peacock, A. (2009) Teaching eco-literacy during a period of uncertainty. Published on "Policy and
Practice - A Development Education Review" website. Retrieved 8th December 2009 from
SEER (2000) The Effects of Environment-based Education on Students’ Achievement. State
Education and Environment Roundtable: California Student assessment Project. Available
online at http://www.seer.org/pages/csap.pdf (Accessed 5.1.10)
Siraj-Blatchford, I., Sylva, K., Muttock, S. Golden, R. & Bell, D. (2002) Researching effective
Pedagogy in the Early Years, research report 356. London: DfES.
Straker, J. (2003) Let’s Go Outdoors: A Narrative Inquiry into the Memories of Significant Outdoor
Experiences, Paper presented at 13th National Conference of Outdoor Education, Queensland,
Australia, 2003.
Tovey, H. (2007) Playing Outdoors: Spaces and Places, Risk and Challenge. Maidenhead: Open
University Press.
Trawick Smith, J. (1998) School based play and social interactions: opportunities and limitations. In:
P.D. Fromberg & D. Bergen (Eds) Play from Birth to Twelve and Beyond: contexts,
perspectives and meanings. New York: Garland Publishing.
Tuan, Y.F. (1977) Space and Place: the perspective of experience. Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.
Waite, S. (2011) Children learning outside the classroom: from birth to eleven. London: SAGE.
Waite, S. & Davis, B. (2007) The contribution of free play and structured activities in Forest School to
learning beyond cognition: an English case, in: B. Ravn & N. Kryger (Eds.) Learning beyond
Cognition (Copenhagen, Danish University of Copenhagen).
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Waite, S. Nichols, M. Evans, J. and Opie, M. (2009) Methods for exploring how pedagogies are
shaped in outdoor contexts. In: Conference Proceedings for International Outdoor Education
Research Conference, La Trobe University, Beechworth, Australia, 15-18 April 2009.
Waite, S. (2010) Contribution of the Exmoor Curriculum to Rural Young People’s Educational
Achievement and Environmental Awareness (Final Report, January 2010) Available online.
Note: This paper is based upon two studies previously separately reported at conferences.
With thanks to
Economic and Social Research Council for funding (RES-000-22-3065); research assistants, Marie
Nichols, Ben Simmons and Nikki Spalding; transcriber, Roz Pomfret; co-investigators, Julie Evans and Sue
Rogers for their valued support; and finally all the staff and children of the two schools for making us so
With thanks to
Exmoor National Park Sustainable Development Fund for funding; in kind support from the Faculty of
Education, University of Plymouth; all the staff and students in the three schools for their time and ideas.
Sue Waite is leader of the outdoor and experiential learning research network in the Faculty of Education at the University of
Plymouth in England. The network has practitioner and academic membership, convenes seminars and conducts research in
this area. She is currently working on two major projects: an Economic and Social Research Council award to look at
Opportunities afforded by the outdoors for alternative pedagogies in the transition between Foundation Stage and Year 1;
and a BIG Lottery funded project aimed at developing research capacity in the voluntary and community sector, focused on
Social cohesion and well being deriving from woodland activities.
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Educating Pre-service Biology Teachers in Informal Teaching
Environments - A Case of a Local ZOO
Dr Iztok Tomažič
University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty, Department of Biology, Slovenia
[email protected]
Educating good science teachers is the main goal of all science teacher programmes. Teachers today
should be trained to carry out both classroom and outdoor activities for children. In addition, they
should be able to convey modern socio-scientific issues to the general public. Informal environments
such as zoos, botanical gardens and various other nature centres present an ideal opportunity for preservice teachers to learn about different teaching activities, gain pedagogical and scientific
(biological) knowledge, and develop attitudes and skills necessary for teaching. This paper presents
students’ self-evaluation and the evaluation of the workshops that they organised in the spring of 2010
at the local zoo (ZOO Ljubljana). The workshops focused on endangered large carnivores and
amphibians of Slovenia. Students were generally eager to carry out workshops and are willing to
participate in the similar activities in the future. Implications for teacher education programmes and
co-operation with other nature education centres are discussed.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,
2010), in the past century many animals, plants and other species have undergone severe decline or are
facing worldwide extinction. The main reason for such declines can be contributed to human actions.
Habitat destruction and exploitation, climate change, increasing levels of ultraviolet radiation,
environmental contamination, disease, and the introduction of non-native species are all possible
causes for which species numbers are in decline. To address these issues and to raise awareness about
loss of biodiversity, the year 2010 has been declared by the United Nations as the International year
of biodiversity (United Nations, 2010).
In the year 2004, the Society for Conservation Biology published Conservation literacy guidelines
(Trombulak et al., 2004). In their opinion, education plays an important role through which biologists
can present novel environmental problems to the general public. Through education people can be
informed about those problems and motivated to take actions for preserving healthy environments.
Their main arguments are that educators should seek to develop a deeper understanding of the
importance and tools of conservation biology in people; they propose that education is the most
effective when people develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes through direct experience and that
conservation biologists have a unique set of knowledge, skills, and concerns to share with others.
We have found ourselves in a position, where we found that biology (environmental) education often
does not provide knowledge according to which people would be willing to act pro-environmentally.
Slingsby and Barker (2004) therefore believe that we must design teaching methods that will be more
efficient. Teaching must go beyond achieving only factual understanding of subject matter.
Learning through fieldwork seems to be a promising method to educate environmentally responsible
people (for literature review of see, Barker, Slingsby & Tilling, 2002; Bogner, 1999; Lock, 1998). In
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spite of mentioned fact, there are reports that fieldwork is in decline (Tilling, 2004). Also, the trend for
a decline in fieldwork is evident in initial teacher training (Kendall et al., 2006).
There are many reasons for the decline but that should be reversed by: making fieldwork a
requirement rather than an option in the biology curriculum; developing and presenting a strong case
for biology fieldwork; supporting innovative curriculum development; providing support for trainee
and experienced teachers; encouraging scientists to take a much broader view of the world around
them (Barker, Slingsby & Tilling, 2002).
Zoological gardens can be treated as one form of fieldwork (informal education setting), with a lot of
learning possibilities (Lock, 1998). They are the place where students can for example learn about
animal behaviour (Tunnicliffe, 1996) and can directly experience indigenous and endangered species
(see Lock, 1998). Emphasis on students acquiring experience through direct contact with nature and
organisms is also one of the basic innovations of the science and biology curricula of the reformed
Slovenian school system (Verčkovnik, 2000). But for that, teachers must be equipped with proper
knowledge, skills and attitudes with which they are able to convey biology topics appropriately to the
For that purpose I have prepared a half semester activities for pre-service student teachers, where they
gained knowledge in a form of lectures about several endangered animal groups, experienced animals
at the local ZOO, where they have been learning from live animals and preserved parts of animals.
Following their own learning, workshops at the local ZOO were organised, where students had the
opportunity to present animals to the general public with the purpose to raise awareness of people
about those animals. All of the above activities were followed by students’ evaluation of the
Slovenian school system
Slovenian education system has in the past two decades gone through an extensive reform. Primary
school was prolonged from eight to nine years and the whole primary schooling is divided into three
parts called triads. Science is taught from the beginning of primary school, but is not standalone
subject until eighth grade. In the eighth and ninth grade it is divided into three separate subjects,
biology, chemistry and physics. Teachers that can teach science are usually two subject primary school
teachers or one subject teachers that were further qualified in one or two missing subjects. Only
teachers with background in science are allowed to teach science.
The biological content structure of science and biology curricula is as follows. In sixth grade the
students are learning about anthropogenic ecosystems in order to get familiar with their everyday
surroundings and meet as many organisms and interactions between them and environment as
possible. In the seventh grade, students get to know natural ecosystems and organisms living in them.
Both in sixth and seventh grade students are also learning about basic structure and function of
organisms. In eighth grade, students are learning about systematics, ecology and evolution and in ninth
grade about human biology with basic genetics.
Participants of the activities were two-subject biology-chemistry and biology-home economics student
teachers (N=85). The majority (N=71; 84%) of the students participated in the evaluation part of the
activities (Table 1).
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Table 1. Structure of the research sample
Home economics
Home economics
Second year students
Third year students
The programme
The programme consisted of six steps which were organized at the first several weeks of the semester.
(1) Lectures about several endangered animal groups (Figure 1; a)
Several experts were invited to prepare lectures for the students. A professor from Ecology department
introduced carnivore species of Slovenia, their biology and their endangerment to the students. Three
teaching assistants from the same department presented their research activities on carnivore biology
and ecology and socio-biological aspects of carnivore protection to the students. Because carnivores
are many times publicly controversial topic, students had to be informed about possible reactions of
the ZOO visitors. And finally, from the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, The
Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, I invited a colleague who is involved in state
protection of large carnivores.
Figure 1: Student activities
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(2) Learning about carnivores at the ZOO (Figure 1; b,c,d)
Students had the opportunity to come very close to the animals and were informed about individual
animal history at the ZOO, about animal enclosures and animal care. Later on, students where learning
from preserved parts of animals. They also had to be prepared for working with such materials.
(3) Learning about local amphibians at the Faculty
In this part students were learning about amphibians of Slovenia and had a chance to work with live
animals kept at the Faculty. They gained experiences of handling live amphibian species.
(4) Work of students in teams - preparing for the workshops and making posters
Student were organised in teams of two to three students. They agreed that animals that they will be
presenting at the ZOO workshops should be assigned to them by a lot (one to two carnivore species
and one to two amphibian species). Then they were delivered literature about selected animals. In a
form of a lecture, they were also informed about benefits and drawbacks of conducting fieldwork in
biology (science) teaching (see the cited literature in the introduction).
(5) Workshops at the local ZOO
Workshops were organised for the purpose to participate in the EAZA (European Association of Zoos
and Aquaria) yearly campaign. In this part of the programme, students were presenting animals to the
general public with the purpose to raise awareness of people about those animals.
(6) Evaluations of the programme - Instrument
After the workshops, students had to evaluate the programme. A mixed methods approach was
employed to collect both qualitative and quantitative data from written questionnaires and a written
assignment (Creswell, 2008). The analysis of the data is still in progress, so only preliminary results
are presented. Quantitative data were obtained by 5-point Likert type questionnaire that contained 36
questions. The meaning of the scale was as follows: 1 = I completely disagree , 2 = I disagree 3
= Undecided , 4 = I agree and 5 = I agree completely . Students were asked about (1) their
work with live animals and preserved materials; (2) their work with ZOO visitors; (3) usefulness of the
individual step of their preparation for the workshops; (4) interest in workshops and (5) behaviour of
ZOO visitors at the workstations.
Qualitative part of the survey consisted of 14 open-ended questions grouped in four categories: (1)
comparison of teaching in classroom with teaching at the ZOO; (2) using animals in instruction (3)
suitability of workshop theme for primary school students and (4) students' positive and negative
experiences with ZOO workshops.
Students were also asked to grade their own presentations at the ZOO workshops. They graded their
presentations of carnivores separately from amphibians.
Results with discussion
For the purpose of this article, the results from the Likert scale about students’ interest in the
workshops are presented. Additionally, answers on open-ended questions of two students about their
positive and negative experiences with ZOO workshops are included.
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Students interest in ZOO workshops
After items S3, S4 and S5 were reversed, factor and reliability (Cronbachs alpha) analysis were
conducted. Cronbach's alpha for five items was 0.72, what is satisfactory for such a small sample and
number of items. Factor analysis with varimax rotation produced only one factor when eigenvalue was
set as greater than 1.1 and loadings above 0.40.
Third year students had already participated at the workshops the year before. So their experiences
with such activities were not new. Students of both study years stated that they liked carrying out
workshops at the ZOO and that they were interesting (Figure 2, S1 and S2). Students of the second
study year liked workshops more (S2) and were less bored (S4) than their counterparts. That was
probably because repeated activities didn't pose such a novelty for the third year students as they did
for the second year students. The same reason might apply for the third statement (S3), where third
year students felt more confident (but not statistically significant) in conducting workshops than did
their counterparts. Students were generally not angry that they had to attend workshops at the ZOO
(S5) what also shows that they were motivated to participate.
Figure 2: Studens ratings of interest statements.
S1 - Conducting workshops was interesting ; S2 - I liked conducting workshops ; S3 - I didn't
fill confident before conducting workshops ; S4 - Conducting workshops is boring ; S5 - I was
angry because I had to conduct workshops . Meaning of asterisks: * p<0.05; ** p<0.01.
Students experiences at the ZOO
Describe any negative experiences that you might gained from the workshop at the ZOO
Student 1 (first time workshop): I don't have any unpleasant experiences. I admit that I wasn't so keen to
sacrifice one Sunday to attend workshops at the ZOO, but I have changed my mind as soon as we started
working. I was a little disappointed on account of older visitors, because I didn't expect that they wouldn't know
many basic things about animals...
... It was also a little cold and we were freezing by the end of the workshop, but they were worth the effort.
Student 2 (second time workshop): Last year, it was more unpleasant because it was raining and there were
only a few visitors. It was very difficult to motivate people to come to our place of presentation. This year it was
different. People just kept coming and were gathering around our table. There are no other unpleasant things for
me to mention.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
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Both students focused mainly on the logistical aspect of the workshop, i.e. weekend and possible bad
weather. It is necessary to organize workshops at the weekend that students have the opportunity to
encounter as many visitors as possible (different ages, prior knowledge, attitudes and values, ... of
ZOO visitors).
Several students mentioned that knowledge of visitors is scarce and that many times visitors view
animals in anthropomorphic or anthropocentric way.
Describe any positive experiences that you might gained from the workshop at the ZOO
Student 1 (first time workshop): For me, everything was positive. I was in a very good mood, when I came
home. I gathered a lot of new experiences. Children alone give me a lot of energy. I liked that they were listening
to me and were with enthusiasm working with live animals (most of the time). Even an elephant on the other side
of a path was no match for my animals. I got some kind of confirmation that I chose a right path, of my study I
mean. I can draw attention of complete strangers and keep them as long as 10 minutes or more and what I do
was interesting for them. I am also pleased that I knew the answers to all questions that visitors have been
asking. Truly a great day and excellent experiences.
Student 2 (second time workshop): It was positive that this year there were a lot more visitors than in the last
year and that there were not only children but visitors of different ages. You are forced to communicate with all
of them (it is not that it is hard, but you are reluctant to and you have to, which is good). In this way we got skills
in communicating with people, and in working with organisms. And we are in fresh air. It is a change; we are
not in a classroom all the time. The main thing is, that it is fun.
The first student was in her description focusing more on working with people and was glad that her
insecurity about her decision for the teaching profession was not wrong. She was also satisfied with
her knowledge about the topic of the workshop. On the other hand, second student was not so eager to
work with people, but realizes that it is a "need to" for her future profession. She also sees benefits of
activities beyond classroom. This student focused more on the didactic value of the workshops.
Cooperation with institution such as ZOO proved to be a promising way of preparing pre-service
biology teachers. Students reported that they liked to work at local ZOO and gained several positive
experiences, e.g. communication with people of different ages, working with teaching materials.
Students not only gained experiences they will need as teachers but they also got knowledge about
certain endangered animal species and experiences of introducing such topics to the general public.
Because they participated in every step of preparing the workshops, they were gaining knowledge and
skills in organising informal learning activities. Later on as teachers, they should be able to prepare
learning environments where their students will gain knowledge, form positive attitudes toward
organisms and nature and develop a plethora of necessary skills.
The paper is based on work supported by the Ministry of Education and Sport of the Republic of
Slovenia and the European Social Fund in the framework of “Project: Development of Natural Science
Competences” at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of the University of Maribor,
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
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Barker, S., Slingsby, D., and Tilling, S. (2002). Teaching Biology outside the classroom: is it heading
for extinction? Field Studies Council. Occasional Publication, Shrewsbury.
Bogner, F. X. (1999). Empirical evaluation of an educational conservation programme introduced in
Swiss secondary schools. International Journal of Science Education, 21(11), 1169-1185.
Creswell, J.W., (2008). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches.
(3.ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.
Kendall, S., Murfield J., Dillon J., and Wilkin A. (2006). Education Outside the Classroom: Research
to Identify What Training is Offered by Initial Teacher Training Institutions. National
Foundation for Educational Research. Research report No 802; Available at:
Lock, R. (1998). Fieldwork in the Life Sciences. International Journal of Science Education 20(6):
Slingsby, D., and Barker, S. (2003, Winter2004). Making connections: biology, environmental
education and education for sustainable development. Journal of Biological Education, pp.
Tilling, S. (2004). Fieldwork in UK secondary schools: influences and provision. Journal of Biological
Education, 38(2), 54-58.
Trombulak, S.C., Omland, K.S., Robinson, J.A., Lusk, J.J., Fleischner, T.L., Brown, G., and
Domroese, M. (2004). Principles of conservation biology: Recommended guidelines for
conservation literacy from the Education Committee of the Society for Conservation
Biology. Conservation biology, 18(5), 1180-1190.
Tunnicliffe, S. D. (1996). Conversations within primary school parties visiting animal specimens in a
museum and zoo. Journal of Biological Education, 30(2), 130-141.
Verčkovnik, T. (2000). Biologija v prenovljeni šoli (Biology in the redeveloped school). Acta
biologica Slovenica, 43, 21-32.
Web sources:
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, (2010). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/
United Nations, 2010; Available at: http://www.cbd.int/2010/welcome/ [20.8.2010]
Iztok Tomažič was a secondary school biology teacher in the school year of 1999/2000. From the year 2000 onward, he is
working at the Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana. Since 2006 he is a teaching assistant for the subjects of Biology
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Examples of Successful Practice, Principles of
Successful Practice
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The Highland Adventures School Journeys
Jakob Frimann Thorsteinsson
Askorun ehf (The Challenge) Training and Outdoor Centre, Iceland
[email protected]
The overall objective of the research “End of Adventure” (ice. Úti er ævintýri) is to describe the
experiences of pupils and staff members participating in Smáraskóli´s Highland Adventures Journeys
and to evaluate the impact of those trips on the pupils; as individuals and as a group. Another goal is
to describe the methodology of those travels and to take a closer look at the theoretical and
ideological background of Outdoor Education (OE).
The research questions are:
How do the pupils and staff members experience the trips?
How do participants communicate with each other during the trips?
How do the trips influence the individuals and the group?
Are adventure based outdoor journeys making suitable conditions for giving and receiving care?
The Highland Adventures Journeys are based on the theories of Adventure Education, which belong to
the field of OE. The research explores the field of OE as a separate field of educational and
environmental theory, and links it to theory and research in the field of Adventure- and Experiential
Education. I also use Nel Nodding´s theory of Ethics of Care in the analyses of the journeys.
Little research on “learning out of doors” has been done in Iceland and the development of concepts
and theoretical anchoring is still in its early stages.
The scientific value of the research lies in:
Documenting the procedures and methods developed in Smáraskóli regarding travels with pupils.
Describing the ideological and theoretical foundations of OE and the journeys.
Describing the experiences of pupils and staff during these travels, and to analyse possible effect
on the pupils.
Developing the discourse on concepts and theory of OE and Experiential Learning in Icelandic.
The research is based on interviews, field observations, diaries and surveys to investigate the
experiences of the pupils and staff. Field observations are based on the highland adventures
undertaken by classes 8 – 10 in the autumn of 2007.
Jakob F Thorsteinsson (male born in 1969) is a teacher by education and is now finishing a MA in Teaching Studies. Jakob
has a 7 years teaching experience in primary school and universities and a 12 years experience in social and leisure work for
the Department of Sports and Leisure in Reykjavík (ÍTR). Jakob has been working in a various experiential programs for the
last 10 years; as an trainer for The Challenge Ltd, and as an adjunct at the University of Iceland (leisure studies) and
Department of tourism at Holar University. More information about Jakob at: http://www.hi.is/is/simaskra/enska/4249
Jakob is in the spring 2010 finishing a research on the Highland Adventures School Journeys – an adventure education school
program taking place in the Highlands of Iceland. It is a systematically designed adventure program that starts in 1st grade
and is gradual up to the 10th grade. The research is focused on three journeys that take place when the students are at the age
from 13-15. The journeys are a four day hiking journey through the highlands of Iceland and two bicycle trips also in the
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What Qualifications are Needed to Become an Outdoor Teacher and What
is the Teacher’s Role?
Dr Robbie Nicol
University of Edinburgh, Outdoor Education, United Kingdom
[email protected]
This lecture explores the nature of outdoor learning by looking at models, definitions and theories. It
explores the curricular potential of outdoor learning whilst acknowledging the barriers that teachers
often face when developing programmes. It suggests that school based approaches represent the
greatest potential for the development and growth of outdoor learning throughout Europe. It will
challenge the view that the concept of adventure is limited to ‘high thrill’ activities.
Instead consideration will be given to how curricular subjects that teachers are already familiar with
can address issues such as health, well-being and environmental sustainability particularly because of
the joy, inspiration and curiosity often encountered in outdoor settings.
The main point is that school teachers need not be afraid of having to be highly qualified in the sorts
of outdoor adventurous activities that take place in remote areas. When outdoor learning is perceived
as starting in the classroom and making local journeys then the qualifications that teachers already
possess are sufficient for high quality outdoor learning. Some empirical research will be used to
inform the sorts of qualities that school teachers may require to make the leap from indoor teacher to
outdoor teacher.
Robbie Nicol is a lecturer in the outdoor and environmental education section at the University of Edinburgh. He has worked
as an outdoor educator within the public, commercial, charitable and voluntary sectors. He holds a wide range of national
governing body awards in canoeing/kayaking, mountaineering and skiing and maintains an active participation in these
activities through journeying.
In his current post he is responsible for a range of undergraduate and postgraduate outdoor education programmes. He is
responsible for the supervision of MSc and PhD students covering a range of topics including child development, emotional
intelligences, the use and application of learning models, and cross-cultural education. His own PhD is is titled ‘Outdoor
Education for Sustainable Living?: An investigation into the potential of Scottish local authority residential outdoor
education centres to deliver programmes relating to sustainable living’. This investigation looked at the meaning of personal
and social education in relation to theoretical, policy and operational perspectives.
He is involved in Continuing Professional Development through involvement with a European Union funded Socrates
programme titled ‘Outdoor Education: Authentic Learning in the Context of Landscapes’. He is also a Board member of the
European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning.
His research interests are directed towards the theoretical development and practical implementation of environmental
education, sustainability education and epistemological diversity (different ways of knowing) particularly in the outdoors.
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Learning in Nature: Exploring the Value of Residential Learning
Experiences Within Scotland’s New School Curriculum
Dr Beth Christie
University of Edinburgh, Outdoor and Environmental Education, United Kingdom
[email protected]
This paper considers the potential role of residential outdoor learning experiences within the
mainstream educational framework of Scotland. It begins by reviewing the outcomes of the Aiming
Higher with Outward Bound evaluation (an educational initiative developed in 1998 and introduced
into 26 secondary schools in North Lanarkshire, Scotland). It then considers where we are now, by
highlighting recent changes within the Scottish education system, such as the new ‘Curriculum for
Excellence through Outdoor Learning’ document and the structure and nature of the new educational
framework, and explores whether past research findings can be used to inform progress in these
stimulating times. Finally, the paper concludes by considering where we can go next by offering some
suggestions for the potential direction of future research in this area.
Over ten years ago Bentley (1998: 6) stated that 'conventional school-based learning' within the UK
failed to 'mesh the knowledge in the curriculum with the contours of wider experience'. He suggested
that we should be concerned with the 'development of understanding' which 'can be applied and
extended by taking it into the spheres of thought and action which, in the real world, demand
intelligent behaviour'. This notion places a high value upon the integration of subject matter both
within the curriculum and beyond the classroom. This is reinforced by his suggestion that there is a
need to develop students’ knowledge and understanding to enable them to behave intelligently in a
variety of situations. This resonates with the Scottish Governments keenness to ensure that ‘all our
children and young people in Scotland develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need if
they are to flourish in life, learning and work, now and in the future. (LTS website; 2010).
There is a substantial literature concerning residential experiences, their possible benefits and their
unexploited potential (Amos & Reiss, 2006; Dillon et al., 2006; O'Donnell et al., 2006; Rickinson et
al., 2004; The House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2005), much of it is also
concerned with outdoor learning. As Rickinson et al. (2004: 56) note in their recent review, much of
the literature is not UK based despite the importance of understanding such teaching and learning in a
local context (ibid.:57), and that there are ‘blank spots’ in the literature, including teachers’
understandings of what is happening, educationally, in these educational episodes (ibid.:56).
Whilst there have been positive developments throughout the UK at policy level (Department for
Education and Skills, 2005; Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2007) the overall picture is
poor. Provision of such experiences is declining. O’Donnell et al. (2006) reviewed provision in
England recently and described possible decreases in activity in both residential and day-length
excursions (any increase seemed to be in activities within school grounds). There have also been
reduced opportunities for trainee teachers to develop outdoor learning skills and understanding
(Kendall et al., 2006).
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There are less widely reported but significant inequities in access to these kinds of educational
experiences. These apply between and within schools, in England, Wales and Scotland, and in
relation to indicators of social inequality (such as proportion of free school meals), key stages, and
proportions of pupils with special educational needs (Mannion et al., 2007; Power et al., 2009; Morris
& O’Donnell, 2006).
The reasons for this picture are complex but the general tenor refers to “wholehearted support”
however there are still issues surrounding “crowded curriculum and a rigid assessment system” and
“increased perception of the risks” (Rickinson et al., 2004: 9). In Scotland, Ross et al (2007)
conducted research with teachers and revealed that “effort and cost” were being weighted against the
same idea of “curriculum”. Therefore, although there is some research evidence to support the links
between outdoor experiential learning experiences and formal education the breadth, depth and
philosophical rationale of those links needs to be established in order that it transcends the political
educational framework that is adopted at that time. This paper attempts to do this in part by identifying
the relevance of the recommendations from the Aiming Higher with Outward Bound study in the
context of the new Curriculum for Excellence (which has recently been introduced in Scotland). With
the aim of reinforcing, the universal central tenets of outdoor experiential learning that could exist
within the new approaches to teaching, and learning.
Aiming Higher with Outward Bound
The Aiming Higher with Outward Bound evaluation spanned just over five years from 1998 – 2004
and formed the basis of a doctoral study (Christie, 2004). At that time, North Lanarkshire Council’s
Aiming Higher with Outward Bound programme provided an original example of an outdoor
experiential approach to learning as part of a mainstream secondary education and so it provided a
significant opportunity for conducting original evaluative research. The initiative was introduced in
response to the Local Authority Education Department’s belief that the detrimental impact of severe
socio-economic deprivation, had lowered the aspirations of its young people, leaving many with
limited prospects (North Lanarkshire Council, 1998).
The Aiming Higher programme specifically intended to help raise achievement levels in 14–16 yearold students through their participation in a five-day residential programme. Each year, over a period
of 15 weeks from October to February, around 25 percent of fourth year students in the North
Lanarkshire Council area attended the Outward Bound centre at Loch Eil.
The evaluation of the programme demanded a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. A
'Life Effectiveness Questionnaire' (LEQ) (Neill, 1997) was administered to all 14-16 year old students
in six mainstream secondary schools. The sampled schools were selected from the population of 27
mainstream secondary schools. The LEQ was administered on three occasions (one month pre-, one
month post- and again three months post- Outward Bound). This procedure was followed over two
consecutive years of the programme, and involved over 800 pupils. Group interviews were conducted
with a sample of students who had taken part in the residential programme. (n=53). At that time the
Scottish Education system followed the 5-14 National Curriculum Guidelines (LTS, 2000) and the
concept of dispositions was used as a broad overall framework for the analysis.
The origins of the term dispositions can be traced back to the phrase ‘values’, which appeared in a
publication from the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum (now LTS) called ‘Heart of the
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…there are qualities or dispositions which will be generally acknowledged as fundamental to
any recognisable form of moral life, as a sound guide on which to base personal choice and as
central to the prospering of a just and democratic society. (SCCC, 1995: 3)
The agenda has not differed greatly since that publication but the terminology has.
The publication goes on to suggest that these five dispositions should not be considered as exclusive;
instead they should be considered as a unified cluster that is non-hierarchical in structure as they are of
equal importance and inter-related. The 5 -14 National Guidelines (LTS, 2000: 5) state that the
dispositions help to “guide pupils in making decisions and taking action” by providing them with a
“fundamental basis for a personally rewarding life and an effective community”. The dispositions
encouraged and engendered were:
A commitment to learning - Throughout schooling and to equip them for adult life,
children need both to acquire new information and skills and to make new
connections and meanings in what they have learned. Learning becomes an
exciting and rewarding lifelong process.
A respect and care for self - A sense of self-worth brings a capacity for autonomy
and motivation. It is the basis from which care for others grows. It is strongly
linked to achievement and attainment.
A respect and care for others - Recognising that we are interdependent helps
pupils develop qualities of co-operation, mutual support and respect for the
diversity of people, cultures and beliefs.
A sense of social responsibility - An awareness of positive social attitudes,
principles and skills will help pupils become competent and positively disposed to
participate in society. A commitment to the environment will be engendered.
A sense of belonging - Being part of and committed to the life of the school is
achieved when pupils feel valued, knowing that their opinions count and their
concerns are addressed.
(LTS, 2000: 5)
It is stated that these dispositions would “find expression in the curriculum that pupils study, in the
contexts in which their learning is structured and in the relationships that encompass both their
learning environment and later life” (LTS, 2000: 5). It is hoped that through the development of these
qualities and dispositions the students would develop skills necessary for an effective life, such as
personal and interpersonal skills, a commitment to lifelong learning, the ability to communicate
effectively, problem solving skills and the confidence to lead a successful life. There is a clear overlap
between the claims made for outdoor learning and the dispositions framework and so by using this
framework as the structure for the overall analysis it was possible to relate the findings to both the
experiential outdoor approach and the mainstream approach to education.
The evaluation suggests that the course delivered by Outward Bound as part of the Aiming Higher
programme provided an opportunity for personal and social development, consistent with the
educational framework at that time. The overall outdoor experiential learning process from pre- to
post- course work appeared to support positive development in this case. Although the results of the
quantitative study showed no significant difference between the two groups in terms of their LEQ
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scores, interviews with those who participated in the programme, pointed to positive overall effects in
terms of the students’ perception of their social and academic skills. The evaluation indicated that
there is a link between an outdoor experiential approach to education and the rationale behind the
concept of the ‘dispositions’. This suggests that the Aiming Higher with Outward Bound programme
is one way in which outdoor experiential learning can, in practice, successfully compliment the current
education system in Scotland. The evidence suggests that the students felt that they had developed as
a result of the programme, in terms of increased confidence and social skills, and in some cases the
students reported that this has transferred into the classroom. For example some felt that they could
perform better in speaking tests, that they could speak out in class and that they could ask for help
from teachers and other students.
The experience and the extent of its effect was specific to each student however the majority felt that
they had developed in some way as a result of their involvement in the programme. The group
interview results correlate with the participant observation and individual interview data, however the
LEQ does not demonstrate such a positive effect. This could suggest that either the LEQ is not
‘sensitive’ enough to give positive results or that this type of study does not lend itself to quantitative
analysis. Further investigation into both the LEQ and general quantitative analysis in this field is
necessary in order to clarify this issue.
In summary, the case study evaluation successfully combined approaches, drawing upon each
technique individually, yet combining the findings through the dispositions framework. In other
words the evaluation demonstrated that triangulation can be used to produce effective, original and
reliable results. Importantly this study also has implications for future research within the field of
outdoor experiential learning and within the broader field of education as a link has been established
between outdoor experiential learning and mainstream education; an area of research that has been
given little previous attention (Cason and Gillis, 1994;Hattie et al, 1997).
The recommendations that arose were used specifically to inform the development of the
Aiming Higher with Outward Bound programme and, more generally, as a basis for considering
the broader theoretical recommendations relating to the field of outdoor experiential learning in
this context.
Since this research was conducted, the 5-14 National Curriculum guidelines have been superseded by
the Curriculum for Excellence. However, the underpinning rationale behind the concept of
dispositions is very evident throughout the new framework, particularly in relation to the ‘four
capacities’. Thus helping to reinforce the consistent role of outdoor learning and establish its’ value
within the Scottish education system.
Current context – Curriculum for Excellence
Following a recent national review of education the Scottish Parliament has through its educational
advisory agency (Learning and Teaching Scotland) embarked on a major initiative – ‘A Curriculum
for Excellence’. In future much less emphasis will be placed on a subject-oriented curriculum and in
preference the personal skills and attitudes of young people are to be the central theme, encouraging
young people to develop the capacities of ‘successful learners’, ‘confident individuals’, ‘responsible
citizens’ and ‘effective contributors’ (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2008), see Figure 1.
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Figure 1 The four capacities
A Curriculum for Excellence: the four capacities
Successful learners
Confident individuals
Responsible citizens
Effective contributors
These capacities are similar in structure and nature to the dispositions framework discussed earlier,
and as was the case with the dispositions, the development of such capacities is clearly difficult for
schools to deliver and demonstrate. There is a similarity between the claims made for outdoor
learning and these ‘capacities’ and so the Scottish Government funded an initiative called ‘Outdoor
Connections’ and a major research programme (which we at the University of Edinburgh and others)
have recently completed (see University of Edinburgh Outdoor Education (2009) website for details
and Nicol et al. (2007) for a summary). As part of the work of the ‘Outdoor Connections’ programme
(Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2009) staff have, through analysis of this and other research
identified ways in which outdoor learning might deliver these kinds of developmental outcomes. It is
not clear how this will be encouraged, what the expectations of Government would be and what would
constitute good practice. However, what is clear is that the flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence
would allow schools to arrange much of their teaching outdoors if they wished to do so. This
approach has been convincingly advocated by Beames et al. (in review) who argue that Curriculum for
Excellence challenges the ‘dominant, fragmented model of learning’ and ‘legitimises the kinds of
cross-curricular, autonomous learning that may be offered by theoretically-driven educational
opportunities outside the classroom’. Therefore, it is important to be clear about the evidenced links
between outdoor learning and the Scottish education framework to ensure that past research is reexamined in relation to the new curriculum so that it can inform future practice.
Recent guidance documents published to support the delivery of outdoor learning as part of the
Curriculum for Excellence state that ‘outdoor learning offers many opportunities for learners to deepen
and contextualise their understanding within curriculum areas, and for curriculum linking learning
across the curriculum in different contexts and at all levels’. (LTS, 2010;9). The recent developments
within the educational framework of Scotland coupled with an increased interest in, and awareness of,
the potential benefits of exposure to nature means that there is increasing educational policy support
for outdoor learning within Scotland.
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Future research
When the Aiming Higher with Outward Bound is considered in relation to the four capacities and the
rationale behind the Curriculum for Excellence, connections can be made between an outdoor
experiential approach to education and its value in terms of mainstream education. The evaluation has
provided an example of one way in which an outdoor experiential approach to teaching and learning
can be successfully integrated into the Scottish education system. Therefore building upon current
practice in schools by introducing an opportunity for students to bring their experience into the
classroom and so benefit their overall education.
Reviewing past research, Hattie et al (1997: 85) noted that ' research and adventure programs can
provide many insights which might inform regular educational contexts, however they were conducted
as through they operated in isolation from the educational world'. This paper has provided the
opportunity to go some way towards addressing this issue by reviewing research that provided a
valuable insight into the links that can and do exist between outdoor experiential learning and
mainstream education.
Other original empirical UK based studies (Beames et al. 2009, Nicol et al. 2007, Higgins et al 2006)
have indicated that whilst young people clearly benefit from residential experiences this phenomenon
is not well understood. However, the general lack of research investment makes it difficult to identify
the relationship between the nature of the experience and activities, and any such benefits. This is not
helped by the lack of expectation that residential providers and schools should evaluate their
programmes. It is understandable that in a competitive market-place providers make claims for their
programmes that are not supported by specific local evaluation, but instead draw on meta-analyses that
are devoid of context.
Future research could consider a triangulation of methods approach similar to the approach adopted
in the Aiming higher study. For example, a self-report instrument or other form of psychometric
instrument could be combined with group interviews or individual interviews. As was the case in the
Aiming Higher study, the quantitative aspect of the evaluation produced some interesting results,
however the value of that type of approach lay in the opportunity to combine findings to produce an
overall understanding of a situation, as the results were of greatest use when they were used in
conjunction with the qualitative findings. A multi-method approach could enhance future research, in
similar areas.
Secondly, future research could be conducted in order to establish how far the development of
'dispositions' or the four ‘capacities’ translates into all aspects curriculum. This could be done to
attempt to establish why and how these capacities are of benefit to a student during their time at school
and for their life beyond formal education. In general, the old concept of dispotions has been
understudied although it remains one of the core elements of the aims and objectives of mainstream
education and has been carried through into the new Curriculum for Excellence within the spirit of the
four capacities.
Finally this paper has taken steps towards highlighting that there are fundamental aspects of outdoor
learning that have relevance beyond the educational framework of the time. The philosophical
rationale of outdoor learning has a relevance to the way in which young people learn and develop
within, between, and beyond the constructs of a formal educational setting. By providing an increased
opportunity for residential outdoor learning experiences as part of mainstream schooling then we are
adhering to the core values of curriculum for excellence and the long-standing key concepts of outdoor
pedagogy; challenge, enjoyment, relevance, depth, development of the whole person and an
adventurous approach to learning (LTS: 2010).
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Amos, R. & Reiss, M. (2006) What contribution can residential field courses make to the education
of 11-14 year-olds? School Science Review, 88(322): pp. 37-44.
Beames, S., Atencio, M., Ross, H. (2009). Taking excellence outdoors. Scottish Educational Review,
41(2), 32-41.
Bentley, T. (1998). Learning beyond the classroom: education for a changing world. London:
Christie, E. (2004) Raising Achievement in Scottish Secondary Schools? A study of outdoor
experiential learning. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh.
Department for Education and Skills (2005) Education Outside the Classroom Manifesto
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conResults.cfm?consultationId=1370. Accessed 11
May, 2007
Dillon, J., Morris, M., O’Donnell, L., Reid, A., Rickinson, M. & Scott, W. (2005) Engaging and
Learning with the Outdoors – The Final Report of the Outdoor Classroom in a Rural
Context Action Research Project. NFER.
Dillon, J., Rickinson, M., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Choi, M.Y., Sanders, D. & Benefield, P. (2006)
The value of outdoor learning: evidence from research in the UK and elsewhere, School
Science Review, 87(320): pp. 107-112.
Higgins, P., Nicol, R. & Ross, H., (2006), Teachers’ Approaches and Attitudes to Engaging with the
Natural Heritage Through the Curriculum. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
Kendall, S., Murfield, J., Dillon, J. & Wilkin, A. (2006) Education Outside the Classroom: research to
identify what training is offered by Initial Teacher Training Institutions. National
Foundation for Educational Research. Research Report No 802, Nottingham: DfES
Learning and Teaching Scotland. (2007b). Taking learning outdoors. Retrieved June 2009, from
Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010). Outdoor learning doc
Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010).Understanding the Curriculum. Retrieved August 2010 from
Mannion, G., Doyle, L., Sankey, K., Mattu, L., Wilson, M. (2007). Young people’s interaction with
natural heritage through outdoor learning. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage. Available in
O'Donnell, L., Morris, M. & Wilson, R. (2006) Education Outside the Classroom: an assessment of
activity and practice in schools and Local Authorities. Report by the National Foundation
for Educational Research, Nottingham: Department for Education and Skills.
Rickinson, M., Dillon, J., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Choi, M., Sanders, D. & Benefield, P. (2004) A
review of research on outdoor learning, Preston Montford: Field Studies Council.
Ross, H., Higgins, P. & Nicol, R. (2007) Outdoor study of nature: teachers' motivations and contexts,
Scottish Educational Review, 39(2): 160-172.
Beth Christie completed her PhD in outdoor education at the University of Edinburgh in 2004. Her doctoral studies focused
on an evaluation of a residential-based outdoor experiential learning initiative. Her work established that the residential
programme was an effective complement to the mainstream educational framework in Scotland by providing a further
learning opportunity for all students. Recommendations from her research were made at school, Local Authority level and at
Scottish Government policy level. Currently, Beth is a Research Associate at the University of Edinburgh and a freelance
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Connection with Nature and Awareness as Primary Goals of Outdoor
M.Sc. Živa Pečavar
CŠOD – Centre for School and Outdoor Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Children have lost the connection with nature that was a given just a generation ago. To us
playing with friends and running outside was taken for granted, just like watching TV or
playing computer games is to today’s children. For many children outdoor and environmental
education centres are the first really close encounter with nature. In my opinion we can (and
should) do much more than achieve attainment targets. We can do that successfully and
should not neglect it, but we should also take advantage of our unique opportunity to bring
children closer to nature and nature closer to children. Too structured and jam-packed a
curriculum cannot do much for children’s connection to nature and their desire to spend time
outside. In my opinion we should build on positive experiences and systematically try to
bridge the gap which modern life has inflicted not only on our children but on all of us.
“The best test of the quality of a civilization is the quality of its leisure” (Irwin Edman, Gardeners web
page). Are we sure that TVs and computers are the highlights of our civilization? Is this is the best we
can offer our children? Outdoor education teachers might have an opportunity to equip them with
better ways to spend their time.
There are a number of benefits that outdoor and environmental education brings to students. Among
these are: effective, hands-on learning, building a positive relationship with nature, enhancing
awareness, empathy, teamwork, self-esteem, social skills, and others. All of these are important and
give students tools to deal with their everyday tasks in and out of school.
Teachers in outdoor education settings try to accomplish all of these benefits and tailor them to
different groups, but probably each of us has some aspects that we feel strongest about. In my case it is
the positive relationship between children and nature. Other qualities, like teamwork, achieving good
learning results, or social skills, can also be achieved in a number of other situations and
environments, but the relationship with nature is something that can hardly be achieved in an indoor
setting. Certainly I do work on other aspects through my teaching, but my main goal is to make sure
that children go home with a positive attitude and an excitement for nature.
Just twenty years ago children spent a majority of their time playing with friends outside. In our
parents' childhood that often meant playing in forests or fields, for us it was more a matter of biking or
playing ball on the street, but at least we were outside. Children today spend most of their time inside.
One aspect they are missing out on is a relationship with nature. All they know about nature is that it is
this wall of green out there, probably scary, with all those spiders, bears and other terrifying animals.
It is cold, wet, dangerous, and… well, boring, with nothing to really do outside.
Youth know all about disappearing rain forests, global warming and ozone holes. Consequently for
many of them nature is either frightening or a sad, slowly vanishing environment which should be
handled with kid gloves. But unless a person builds a relationship with nature, unless he (or she) feels
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strongly about it, he will not do his best to protect it. Since most children today have a very distant
notion of nature, there might be no one in the future to care for it.
We take deteriorating of the natural environment for granted, as something that just happens over
time. Peter Kahn, a professor at University of Washington, said that “With each ensuring generation,
the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation takes that degraded condition
as the normal experience” (2002, p. 113). But even in our own lifetime, unless we know a patch of a
forest or a field really well, we will not notice it change. Most people do not, because they do not give
any thought to those forests over there. But if people spend time in a natural setting, they will notice
every single tree being cut, they will care about it; they will notice animals disappearing, plant
diseases spreading. Tom Brown Jr., one of US best known trackers, said in his autobiography, The
Tracker (1978): "When somebody moves something in your house, you notice it. When somebody
moves something in the woods, I notice it." Who else but individuals like that will devote their lives to
protecting nature? But there are less and less people with a deep appreciation for it. And we, teachers
who work with children in the outdoors, have an opportunity to start a spark which just might bring a
child to the forests over and over again.
Many naturalists and environmental enthusiasts agree that lack of interaction with nature and
consequently lack of knowledge about it lead to not understanding and appreciating it and finally not
caring. Naturalist Jon Young, the founder of Wilderness Awareness School in Washington State,
describes this situation: “[The] condition and feeling of alienation from our own world, I refer to as the
dreaded disease of 'Alienitis'. Its symptoms are a lack of knowledge about our world, and with that, a
lack of appreciation, understanding and concern” (2001, p. 4). He believes that the only way to stop
the rapid destroying of our natural surroundings is to provide people with opportunities to build a
relationship with nature. He says that: “One of the most important parts of being in harmony with the
natural world is a deep understanding and appreciation of nature, and that promotes the ability to solve
current problems and to prevent future problems by care-taking the environment on behalf of the
future generations. This comes quite naturally to people who are personally knowledgeable and
spiritually bonded with the natural world, and who consider the other elements of Creation to be their
honored relatives” (2001, p. 6).
I believe that a part of our job should be helping people, in our case mostly children, to understand and
appreciate nature with the hope that this will eventually lead to healthy decisions when the
environment is concerned.
How do we do that? By taking them out there, of course. Luckily children help us with this – they are
easily motivated to play outdoors and are fascinated by nature. We need to make the effort to get them
out-of-doors and to engage them. Children might not know what to do in nature; we need to give them
ideas, to keep them busy. From there it is easy; climbing trees, catching grasshoppers and building
secret shelters are always fun.
In my opinion 'wow-moments' and fun memories are at least as important as achieving attainment
targets. It is true that learning by doing and with real objects in a natural setting significantly improves
the quality of learning, but information and facts are still something we tend to forget over time.
Concepts will stay in students' minds, terminology will probably not unless we repeat it over and over
again. Many of us have experienced trying our best to be as vivid and explicit as we could in making
sure that students would understand and retain certain piece of information. However some time later,
usually not long after (in my case it was ten minutes), when we asked about the information and
checked the knowledge, only a handful of students at the most knew the terminology we were looking
for. This confirmed my belief that I cannot give students a lot of factual knowledge about different
trees in an hour and expect them to absorb it all. What I can hope they will walk away with is a
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memory of a fun and exciting hour they spent exploring trees, and I wish that maybe, when they come
home, they might suggest to their parents or friends to go play in a forest or explore it more. "Playing
in the forest is fun, remember what we found? Let's go out today instead of watching TV." If I start
that spark of an interest in a child, I have done my job well, even if he did not remember the name of
the seed we were looking at. If he continues to visit natural habitats, eventually he will learn the
terminology as well.
It is very important that we are enthusiastic about what we do, about nature. For students, we are the
link between them and the plants and animals. The kind of activities we carry out with them is not the
only thing that matters. Unless they feel we are genuinely interested, engaged and excited, they will
not feel so themselves. Therefore a big part of our role is to lead by example – show them that we are
enjoying nature and are excited and curious about their discoveries. Rachel Carson, one of the
prominent nature writers and environmentalists of the 20th century, said: "If a child is to keep alive his
inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it,
rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in" (About.com web
page). Carson also said: "If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the
christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so
indestructible that it would last throughout life" (About.com). If parents do not have the interest,
maybe we can help this good fairy. It is true that we only see children for a few days, but the
beginning of a relationship child – nature can start. Evan McGown, a co-author of Coyote's Guide to
Connection with Nature, said: "Mentoring people in nature connection requires a long-term practice.
[But] we all know summer camps, weekends workshops, or even hour-long assembly programs do
make a difference in a person's life. They do" (Young, Haas, McGown, 20008, p.21).
In outdoor and environmental education programs we have a fantastic opportunity to excite children
about nature. I consider this as the main task which I should try to accomplish. At schools teachers
usually hardly have enough time to cover all the topics they need to and do not have the time to enable
students the needed amount of exposure to nature to form some type of a relationship with it. In the
few days which children spend in an outdoor education setting there is more time for that, as well as a
suitable environment. Also people working in outdoor education usually like spending time in natural
settings which makes them appropriate role-models. One of the obstacles in breaching the gap
between children and nature is, even in outdoor education, trying to achieve as many attainment
targets as we can. Students can, after all, learn all these concepts in a hands-on way. But we should not
forget the importance of nature play, awareness, respect for other living creatures, and other valuable
aspects that children can learn. In chasing attainment targets we often run out of time for things that
are not included in the curriculum but are just as important as science concepts are. Our work needs to
be a balance between both and not a race for how many targets we can jam into a two hour period. The
amount of attainment targets which we are trying to accomplish needs to be realistic to allow students
to really get into work or exploration without the fear of being rushed or interrupted just as they got
excited about the task. Allowing students enough time will not only make them enjoy their experience
but will also ensure a more qualitative and long-lasting learning results.
In my opinion even allowing children time for free play or semi-structured play in nature is time well
spent. It gives them an opportunity to explore in their own pace and to realize that this can be fun.
Their imagination is let loose which helps with their creativity. This will hopefully give them an
alternative to sitting indoors on all those weekends when they have no other obligations. Using
outdoor education or school environment to show them that playing in natural settings is fun might
provide children with a taste for something new and a wish to do it again. It might also show parents
that this type of leisure time is valuable.
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The results of outdoor environmental education cannot always be seen right away. Let us hope that it
will have a long term effect on students in the years to come and will play a role in raising a
generation which will care for nature and will be willing to do something to preserve natural habitats.
Awareness Quotes on Wisdom Quotes web page. Retrieved 14 August, 2010, from
Kahn, P. H. Jr. & Kellert S. R. (2002). Children and Nature – Psychological, Sociocultural, and
Evolutionary Investigations. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Quotes for Gardeners web page, Retrieved March 31, 2006, from
Rachel Carson Quotes on About.com web page. Retrieved 14 Avgust 2010, from
Young, J. (2001). Kamana Two: Path of the Naturalist. Duval, Washington: Owlink Media.
Young, J., Haas, E., McGown, E. (2008). Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature. USA: OWLink
Živa Pečavar started working with children in a local ski club when she was in secondary school. She studied Primary
Education at University of Ljubljana and she soon realised that her interests do lay in working with children, but outside of a
classroom. Besides teaching she worked at a summer camp in the US, helped with local scouts and taught skiing. She got a
masters degree in Outdoor Recreation at Aurora University in the USA. During the year in the US she worked in an outdoor
environmental education centre on campus. After coming back to Slovenia she started working at one of the CŠOD centres
that focus on younger students.
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Learning on and about the Water in the North-eastern Part of Germany
Sebastian Preuss
Verein zur Förderung Bewegungs- und Sportorientierter Jugendsozialarbeit (bsj Marburg), Germany
[email protected]
There are many striking phenotypes that define the image of the most north-eastern region of
Germany. On the one hand there are various pristine natural spaces. You can see a huge number of
linked rivers and lakes that form a large coherent net of waterways. On the other hand the region is
characterized by its difficult socio-economic situation. It is named as a region with very high future
risks, a region with a limited outlook for families, a region with far below average purchasing power,
a region in economic decline with a residual population and a region which is shrinking.
This is the background for a youth work project that has been established in 2009 and that is called
“Learning and Experimentation on a Swimming platform”. This project tries to identify and underline
the chances, the nativeness and the richeness the natural spaces of the region are providing. The
project offers short-term alternatives to the regular school education for children and youngsters.
They are travelling with a Catamaran-Raft through the channels and waterways of the region, are
stimulated by the natural environment and are dealing and experimenting with questions caused by
the phenomena the children and youngsters are confronted with. The idea of the project is very
simple: Learning should happen very close to the real natural world and inspired by real experiences.
In this lecture the project and its results of the first year will be presented.
Sebastian Preuss, 1973, Graduate in Social Pedagogic, Master of Environmental Protection, working for bsj Marburg since
2001, currently working as a project manager for the pilot scheme “Learning and Experimentation on a Raft”.
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Experience the Moving Culture of Bouldering in Nature
Geir Grimeland
Telemark University College, Norway
[email protected]
Bouldering is part of the climbing culture. Bouldering in nature is climbing in small rock walls or big
boulders, as low as you can safely jump down. You get close to the natural shapes in the rock face – in
slow motion. You get up from the ground, play with gravity, and increase your sensitivity, strength and
balance. You increase your relationship of trust to your friends, and you make new friends. Moments
of judgments, self adjustment, fear and happiness brings you close to yourself, your partners and your
natural environment. You get emotionally involved. You learn to draw the safe line. A holistic view
and approach is most appropriate, or even necessary. There is an obvious and absolute connection
between physical and mental challenges – body and mind are one. In some lucky, magic moments you
fell one with nature. By inviting people to this moving culture in nature, we may stimulate a sensitive
awareness of shapes in nature, and for each others personality. Experiences brought together in a
meaningful context may grow into an aesthetic experience.
A boulder is a free standing big stone. To boulder means to climb a boulder. Bouldering is to boulder a
boulder. Bouldering today also takes place in small rock-walls and indoor climbing gyms. Moving in
nature involves personal and cultural expressions. The steep climbing moves in bouldering are one
way to express your self. This article will focus on bouldering in natural environment.
In bouldering you get close to the natural shapes in the rock face – in slow motion. In bouldering you
have to care. If you don’t care, you are not there. You get up from the ground, play with gravity, and
increase your sensitivity, strength and balance. You increase your relationship of trust to your friends,
and you make new friends. Moments of judgments, self adjustment, fear and happiness brings you
close to yourself and your partners and your awareness of shapes in nature will increase. You get
emotionally involved in the moment. You become fragile in a demanding situation.
The origins of bouldering, as a world wide moving culture, are found back in the 1870s in the
Fontainebleau forest in France, just outside Paris, and in the Lake District, Peak District and Wales in
the United Kingdom at the same time. Other places which influenced the development of bouldering
are the Brisbane area in Australia from 1920s, and Connecticut and South Dakota in the USA from
1930s. Later on, in the 1950s and 60s, the so called Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley in California gathered
a lot of the cutting edge climbers in the world and a strong culture for bouldering raised. In Norway
we actually took up climbing, including bouldering, at an early stage of the sport. When climbers
visited Kolsås, just outside Oslo, for the first time in 1904, they explored a tremendous place for rockclimbing. There were small and steep walls with tiny holds, and there were higher walls with
mountain-like formations. Initially, climbing at Kolsås was meant for training for the real mountains,
but after a while they could no longer avoid the feeling that climbing at Kolsås was great for its own
sake. No one had to excuse that they simply loved the challenge that the small walls and boulders
afforded. This experience is similar in other places; the bouldering was part of impact training for the
big moves in the big mountains. At the same time bouldering was born by, and based on, the joy and
satisfaction of playing with gravity in a cultivated manner.
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But if we should pick out just one place and its culture to the rise and continuous dedication for
bouldering, it is Fontainebleau. This is the definitive Mecca for bouldering. At the same time,
everyone can find their own Mecca for bouldering.
It may seem strange to pick up a moving culture which includes potential danger and struggle to grab
at tiny holds a few meters up on a big boulder when you can train muscle power in a fitness studio and
walk with comfort and safety on the ground. In this article I argue that learning in motion, through a
moving culture in nature like bouldering, has characteristics that stimulate intrinsic motivation trough
challenging personal power and reflection of your self in a cultural context. As pedagogical leaders an
important premise is to avoid from focusing on issues like marks, measurable numbers, health
arguments, competition rules, rankings or any other external aims. Experiencing, exploring and
learning in motion are closely connected to the most basic and meaningful questions: who am I, where
do I belong, and what Robert Fagen (1981) consider one of the most basic question in life; what can I
do? The body’s relationship to the environment is existential (Merleau-Ponty, 2002).
The climbing moves are as old as mankind, and as young as every newborn baby. Bouldering is
connected to pure nature and a sophisticated global moving culture at the same time. The Norwegian
climber and professor in philosophy, Arne Næss, were asked this question by a journalist: - When did
you start to climb, Mr. Næss? Næss smiled and said; - I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can answer that.
You have to ask the question in another way. You see, you and I both climbed when we where
children. May be you stopped, but I just continued to climb.
We are all natural born for bouldering. We are natural born for jumping too, and running, throwing
and catching. Maybe some of us are actors, dancers and drawers too? We are natural born storytellers.
We express ourselves using a huge variety of different languages. We can tell our story in moves or
words, in music and singing, acting, dancing, by painting or drawing or by forming a sculpture. What
we can’t express in numbers, measurement or words, is still a great part of life, maybe the most
important issues to be aware of? Where numbers and words end, music and motions starts. Learning
and increasing competence in an individual and socially meaningful context connected to moving
cultures in nature, like bouldering, is related to decorum of sensitive experiences and bodily learning
processes. In learning processes like this, the tacit dimension is quite distinct (Polanyi, 1966) /
Molander, 1993), and the reason for understanding is closely connected to practice. A holistic nonCartesian view and approach is most appropriate. There is an obvious and absolute connection
between physical and mental challenges in bouldering, like in other motions - body and mind are one
(Johnson, 1987).
A variety of sensitive experiences brought together in a meaningful context may grow into an aesthetic
experience (Dewey 1925/1934). Aesthetic experience is personal and relevant for a view into deep
play and deep flow. Csikszentmihalyi (1983) contributes some guidelines on deep flow characteristics:
complete involvement, constant challenge, full use of skills, merging of action and awareness, control
of action and environment, coherent non-contradictory demand for action and clear feedback and auto
telic nature. Hubert Dreyfus (1978/1992) reminds us that the art of moving is uniquely natural.
Intuition and adjustments to the present situation overrule strict instructions from a lower to a higher
level of performance. Long time practice due to bodily learning processes may give amazing levels of
performance (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986). A lot of bouldering today is done at a high level of
performance. The level of performance has less to do with the steepness and the distance between the
holds, the shapes and sizes of them, than it has to do with the personal dedication and involvement you
put into the bouldering.
Self-Determination Theory connects intrinsic motivation to self-determination (Deci and Ryan, 2000).
The need for competence, individual experience of meaningful context, and autonomy – the
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experience of self determination and independence, are vital intrinsic human needs. Autonomy is
about taking care of yourself and the importance of making your own choices, judging and being
responsible for your own actions. The experience of confidence, trust in your self, increasing level of
owns performance and independence are the inner and satisfactory rewards and confirmations we
need. Children often say; I want to do it on my own. As educators we don’t have to control what they
perfectly well control by them selves. We should stimulate autonomy and emphatic social relations.
They have to make their own choices when the teacher is not there, make judgement of danger,
judgements of approach to the playground, judgement on behalf of their way of living, judgement on
behalf of their natural environment and values in the cultures they relate to. They inherit our moving
cultures, and they create new ways to move.
Moving cultures in nature, like bouldering, may be one out of a numerous meaningful places for openminded meetings, learning in motion and sensitive and social experiences in nature.
I draw on the Vygotskyan notion of learning as sociocultural phenomena. Inspired by Vygotsky
Bronfenbrenner developed the Ecological Systems Theory.
Bronfenbrenner (1985) contributes how childhood environments shape our psychological
development. He seeks to understand the entirety in people’s evolvement from child to adult. The
social life is essential, and connections between different levels of action, from micro to macro level,
are essential and may create meaning and psychological development at a personal level. Individual
and social conditions and conditions in society at large should be balanced and connected. At different
levels meetings among people have great impact on the involved parts, and may create development at
one limited level or connections from one level to the other. I look upon this as relevant for at least
two reasons: Firstly, the individual experience of meaning and entirety from a personal level to society
levels. Secondly; on topics relevant for experiences and meaningful learning processes in nature,
social-ecology in balance and a sustainable development in society, due to Bronfenbrenner’s
theoretical framework, may influence on ecological balance and sustainable development in nature in
a long term. This is no less than our big time challenge for the future. United Nations Environmental
programme (www.unep.org/) focuses on a great variety of challenges on this, and politicians,
economists and educators should clarify common goals, and make clear impacts for education and
practical life. Education in nature may play an important part of this, and outdoor educators are the
most obvious participant in society to take care of the most important starting point; personal, social
and cultural experiences and individual meaningful learning processes in nature.
From this point of view it’s vital to hold on to the understanding of the intrinsic values and potential
inner motivation due to the specific moving culture, and not use ecological arguments directly in our
pedagogical practice as an external aim. This belongs to the discourse on the subject, even if it may
affect our reflections, understanding, decisions, and later choices in our practical pedagogical work on
education in nature. Motivation driven by intrinsic values in the moving culture and emotional
involvement in nature at a personal level are assumptions for later involvement in environmental
issues that affect our lives, which may involve some sacrifices in short term comfort, and really
matters in a long term global scale.
Bouldering in nature often involves finding new areas. There are some simple, but important
guidelines on this. Some places the boulder is clean from vegetation from the nature’s side, but a lot of
other places, especially in the forest, we have to clean and cultivate the boulder to stimulate safe and
distinct bouldering. The ethical norm says to do nothing else but clean the rock from vegetation, and
remove dangerous stones from the landing zone with muscle power. If the rock-wall in some way is
too dangerous or too demanding for our level of performance, we have to leave it untouched and find
another place. We should not by any circumstance shape the geological structures artificially. This is
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against the ethical norm on traceless moves in nature and will ruin the treasure hunt for the next
generation, and actually ruin bouldering in nature as a moving culture, transforming it into a park sport
of manmade constructions.
In bouldering there is no climbing rope, no harness, no helmet, no belay devices or any other
protection gear, except for the crash-pad which functions more like a nice base for harmless landings.
There are no high altitude climbs, 1000 meter big walls or constant fear of serious accidents. Even so,
the boulders might be high enough for you to take care, to sharpen your focus and to be a real
challenge to your physical and mental strength. But it’s never a matter of life and death. It’s more like
a matter of how we live our lives. This gives bouldering a lot of space for a playful approach. You still
have to deal with fear and potential danger because of an increasing distance from the ground, even if
this is not higher than two or three or four meters. We never force anyone to climb. In our pedagogical
and emphatic leadership we have to be very sensitive for individual approaches to the steep moves,
and be aware that bouldering might trigger fear and feeling of danger.
In our pedagogical practice we have to confirm the value of being present in the moment, rather than
aiming for a later result. Presence in the moment gives valuable experiences for the future. Focusing
on the present situation, facing the challenge and experiencing ones ability to solve the relevant task,
increase our skills, confidence and understanding of bouldering.
Is it possible to unite the soul of bouldering and pedagogical practice? In the school system and other
places it may happen that strict pedagogical practices overrule free moves. On the other hand, freedom
is highly valued in bouldering and in the climbing culture in general. It’s part of the intrinsic values in
climbing. The soul of bouldering is hard to explain, it’s quite mysterious. Magic moments are
unexplainable. In some magic moments moves, awareness and the boulder are one. You feel what
can’t be spelt. You see what can’t be said. These moments are creating your tacit knowledge. These
moments are the source to understand the soul of bouldering. Tacit knowledge is a great part of life,
like in moving cultures and art (Polanyi, 1966 / Dewey, 1934). Pedagogical practices in the school
system are on the other hand often tightly connected to explanations in words. The unexplainable may
loose the touch of magic in a stream of words from the teacher. At the same time distinct and well
formulated explanations are gifts from the good teacher to stimulate useful understanding. In our
pedagogical work we should stimulate a sense of the unexplainable and create curiosity more than
killing all mysteries. As pedagogical leaders we should open the book of fairy tales with our students.
We give guidelines, stimulate and invites for good experiences, and step by step curiosity emerge and
they will learn to read by themselves, create own meaning, and add new chapters to their own personal
stories. It’s a magical, mysterious tour.
Where do we go to boulder? The last fifteen years there have been built hundreds of indoor rock gyms
in a lot of cities and smaller places in different countries almost all over the world. It is possible to
boulder on the lower part of these walls, and some of the best equipped climbing gyms even have their
own special area or small rooms for bouldering. These facilities offer a good possibility to explore
some of the moves and to have some experience with the joy of playing with gravity. The indoor rock
gym is an artificial structure. That means some good possibilities, but it can never cope with the never
ending variety we find in nature. When you are moving under the blue sky, you can smell the forest,
hear the birds, taste the blueberries, feel the wind in your hair, and walk barefoot over the warm slabs.
You will learn to know, and maybe love, the rich variety in different natural environment. And of
course, if you are there for the boulders, you will learn to know and maybe love the bouldering. The
boulders and the moving culture may be your way into a personal and deep relationship with nature.
The school system is the institution in our society with the clearest and strongest authority on learning.
Learning processes is complex. In the school system we meet all children and a wide understanding of
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intelligence due to personalities is important understandings in our pedagogical work (Gardner, 1993).
In our pedagogical practice we should bear in mind the importance of meaningful relationships,
meaningful learning processes and meaningful meeting-places.
Bråten, I. (red.) (1998). Vygotsky i pedagogikken. Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk Forlag as.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1983). Deep play and the Flow Experience in Rock Climbing. I: Harris & Park:
Play, Games & Sport in Cultural Contexts. USA: Human Kinetics Publishers.
Daniels, H. (2001). Vygotsky and Pedagogy. London: Routledge.
Dewey, J. (1925). Experience and Nature. Chicago & London: Open Court.
Dewey, J. (1934). Art as Experience. New York: Minton, Balch, New York & London: Allen &
Dreyfus, H. L. & Dreyfus, S. E. (1986). Mind over machine. The power of human intuition and
expertise in the era of the computer. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Dreyfus, H. L. (1992). What
Computers Still Can't Do: a Critique of Artificial Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: The MIT
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The theory in practice. New York: Basic Books.
Grimeland, G. (2009). Bratte gleder. Klatring med barn og ungdom. Oslo: Akilles
Huizinga, J. (1938). Homo Ludens. Boston: Beacon.
Johnsen, Mark(1987). The body in the mind: the bodily basis of meaning, imagination and reason.
Næss, Arne (1994) The Norwegian roots of deep ecology.
Kolb, A. & Kolb D. A. (2001). Experiential Learning Theory Bibliography 1971-2001. Boston, MA:
McBer & Co.
Merleau-Ponty, M.(2002). Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge & Kegan.
Molander, B. (1993). Kunnskap i handling. Göteborg: Daidalos
Pedersen, K. & Viken, A. (2003). Nature and Identity. Essays on the culture of nature. Kristiansand:
Polanyi, M. (1966). The Tacit Dimension. Glouchester, MA, USA: Peter Smith Publisher Inc.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic
motivation, social development, and well-being. USA: American Psychologist Volume 55,
Issue 1.
Säljö, R. (2001). Læring i praksis. Et sosiokulturelt perspektiv. Oslo: J. W. Cappelens forlag a.s.
Thelen, E. & Smith, L. B. (1994). A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and
Action. Cambridge, MA, USA: The MIT Press.
United Nations: http://www.unep.org/
Vedeler, L. (1999). Pedagogisk bruk av lek. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget A/S.
Geir Grimeland works at Telemark University collage; Teachers education – outdoor life, physical education, sport, culture
and society. He has Master degree at the University of Sport in Oslo. He’s been working also at Tyrili rehab collective for
drug addicted teenagers and in comprehensive school in Oslo. He’s rock-climbing instructor.
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Camp Plečnik: Learning through Nature
Helena Kregar
Jože Plečnik High School, Slovenia
[email protected]
Who cannot stop to wonder and totally fascinated stare,
seems dead, with eyes closed (Albert Einstein)
Total development of a young person for which school is meant to ensure is possible only through
relationship with nature and the natural environment. Nowadays many young people live in an
environment that is destroying. Some young people come in contact with nature through family life.
For many of them, attending school in nature or nature camp is one of the rare opportunities to live in
1. Introduction
Jože Plečnik High school is one of many high schools situated in the centre of Ljubljana. The only
contact with nature they receive is The Zvezda park and its one hundred year old plane trees. In the
last two years, it has become a building site for an underground parking lot. Consequently, we are now
aware of how important the relationship between man and nature is.
Why organizing camps?
Our school has established camps as the answer to many dilemmas set to teachers of natural science
while teaching in class or school in the centre of the town.
1. “How can we inspire students to think about the beauty, harmony, magnificence and the
significance of nature and make them enthusiastic about it? Does it make sense to support teaching
natural science with the observation, wonder and exploring the nature? Do we teach problem solving
or do we open a broader view to the world? Do we dare to inform students that humankind does not
have the answers to all the questions? (1), asks himself Boris Kham in one of his articles. He is the
leader of nature camps at our school.
2. How can we make students enthusiastic about exploring nature, admire it and think about its laws?
3. How can we address point to the meaning of different subjects at school through living in nature?
The observation of different phenomena, from the viewpoint of various subjects, can help students to
broaden and deepen their knowledge and weave connections among notions, which belong to a single
subject only.
What are the aims of our school to be attained through camp Plečnik?
We provide students with the opportunity to live in nature for a few days, very often by the sea, far
from the town and away from their daily routine. By the sea, students relax easily as they are away
from school and their parents. Students also become close to each other and to nature. They make
social contacts with old and new classmates, they choose the subject group by themselves and then
they learn, socialize and explore while working together. They learn things, which are part of the
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subjects, but they exceeded the limits of individual subjects. They learn to observe, explain and write
natural laws from the point of a chemist, biologist, physicist, astronomer, writer and artist. They learn
to look to the past, future and present and they can look at the micro and macro system of the nature.
We want to open up to them the dimension of space above us – in the sky and beneath us – in the
underground world.
What is my article about?
In the article I will discuss the development and improvement of the camp programme throughout the
last six years. The camp has grown from a nature camp to a cross-curricular camp. I will talk about its
aims; achievements, and the knowledge and impressions students and teachers leave the camp with.
2. The importance of cross - curricular research work in nature and its mission
''Youth research camps have been taking place in Europe since the sixties, while in Slovenia they have
taken place regularly since 1967. They came into existence from a need to encourage and develop the
exploration, understanding and respect of nature, using contemporary methods and processes by top
experts in the role of mentors. The participants research the general characteristics and attractions of
the earth, the natural and cultural heritage or they explore usually interdisciplinary (pollution,
migration of inhabitants, cultural needs).'' (2)
Camp Plečnik is a manner cross-curricular research camp and is one of the broad pallet of activities
offered by our school. By organizing these camps, we give an answer to the challenges which
pedagogy imposes on contemporary school and education for the future.
1. Introducing young people to research work
''Introducing youth to research work should bring up broad issues in schools and should reach a lot of
young people, subjects and activities. What matters is not equipment … but the things, which are not
noticed at first glance, creating real research mood, which promotes research, inquiry and
2. Young people solve life problems with the method of cross-curricular co-operation
''It is important that young people solve problems which make sense to them and touch them
personally. Solemnly narrow specialized problems should be set to a broader frame.
Consequently, the monodisciplinary nature of problems falls apart. Vital, fundamental problems are
rarely monodisciplinary. They reflect our point of view.''(3)
In the continuation of the article, the author asserts that the problem in solving school or outdoor
school work promotes the involved attitude of young people to actual problems of the contemporary
world, protection of environment, health, culture, food sources, energy etc.
3. It introduces students and mentors to team work
»Group work increases potential and gives them the opportunity to make something in a short period
of time. On the other hand, it has important pedagogical effects. The ability to cooperation is an
important (but not always present) quality of each explorer.« (3) I would like to stress that the
organization and realization of the camps is, for mentors a test of school teamwork. Though the
success of the camp depends on many factors, (4) it is directly connected to successful cooperation
between the leaders of the camp and mentors as well as the excellent teamwork of the camp-leading
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4. It broadens the student’s horizon with recognition of man and nature’s correlation
Becoming a member of a research camp work enables young people to broaden their view of the world
and life. ”With the recognition of nature on one side and human needs on the other, young people can
become aware of the conflicts of various issues in the world, which are reflected in the ecological and
economical problems of life nowadays. When they recognize the involvement and the role of science
in these issues the students can develop critical thinking and critical attitude towards the myth of
“neutral, pure” science.” (3)
Though, it is true that in the camp young people solve problems mostly set by the mentors, students
can come to new conclusions and pose their own questions in this relaxed atmosphere.
3. Camp Plečnik from its inception to the present day
The idea and organization of the camp
In the school year 2004/05 three teachers of natural science decided to unite the terrene work of
physicists, chemists and astronomic observation of the sky in a few days nature research camp by the
sea. Attending classes at the end of the school year is difficult especially for well behaved, clever
students who had already fulfilled their tasks beforehand. The camp is part of the obligatory, though
voluntary programme of our school. At the camp, students creatively spend the last days of school in
The idea of the camp is: bring nature and its life closer to the students, and help them learn from its
beauty, laws and message. The idea was well received by students and the heads of our school. As we
are members of UNESCO schools each year we invited other UNESCO school to cooperate with us.
In the last three years the High school of Klagenfurt, and its mentor joined us. Up to the present day
we have successfully completed the following programs:
1. Plečnik camp, Strunjan 2005: 26 students: astronomy, physics, chemistry ,
2. Plečnik camp, Strunjan 2006: 24 students: astronomy, physics, biology;
3. Plečnik camp, Pacug 2007: 45 students: astronomy, biology, chemistry; English and
Architecture drawing;
4. Plečnikov camp Pacug 2008: 53 students: astronomy, biology, chemistry and English;
5. Plečnik camp Pacug 2009: 50 students: astronomy, biology, chemistry, English and
Improvisation play
6. Plečnik camp: Pacug 2010: 64 students: astronomy, biology, chemistry, ethnology and
The content of the camps and a bit about the mentors
The first camps involved natural sciences and astronomy. In the following years other colleagues have
joined us because of enthusiastic students who spread the word about the camps. We have to admit,
that theoretically and practically the camp depends on the mentors. (4)
Above all, cooperation demands the mentor’s willingness and wish to translate one’s profession from
the class to the camp. It also means thorough preparation of professional material for the days of
research work. A mentor should observe the world through the eyes of the mentor’s profession. It is
good and desirable that for a mentor to be capable of feeling to feel the dimensions of the universe,
wonder about it and respect it. A mentor should be professionally and vitally able to discover the
properties, laws, facts and system of mentor’s profession. A mentor should be creative and adaptable
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in nature, in the improvised classroom, in the laboratory, to plan work exercises, the solving of tasks
and the preparation of reports and about the work. Perhaps teachers of natural sciences are more
enabled for such work or simply more enthusiastic about it. Consequently, we were very happy when
teachers of English and art, an architect, a teacher of Slovene and an ethnologist joined us at the camp.
Otherwise, the cooperation is limited by other obligations of our colleagues who would like to join us,
Through the years the camp has grown from the nature camp into a cross curriculum camp.
It follows that having more subjects involved guided us to the topic which can be treated, from the
point of view of all subject groups involved.
The importance of the main topic of the camp
The main topic is the content that all subject groups deal with. It was introduced in the hope that
students recognize the possibilities of using the knowledge they have in combination with new views,
ideas and questions from the viewpoint of various subjects. The main topic covers at least one of three
or four days of the camp.
At the fifth camp the main topic was the heart.
Astronomy: the functioning of astronauts’ heart, the universe (nature) should be discovered
with openness to new challenges
English: reading and creative writing on the topic: The heart and love.
Students shot a comic film about the topic of love.
Biology: the role of heart in the body, reading a novel and solving the dilemma of offering
body organs.
Chemistry: healthy food, the role of fat, additives and preservatives in food which young
people consume most frequently.
Theatre- improvised play from the novel The Heart
A workshop with the school psychologist: through the heart leads the way to love oneself,
love for the others and love for work, which help students to think about internal factors in
The main topic of the sixth camp was light.
LIGHT and for a clearer presentation I will state other activities of the groups:
Astronomy: astronomers measured the diameters of craters, the height of the mountains on the
Moon, protuberances on the Sun and the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The Sun was
also dealt with as a source of light energy
English: reading and creative writing of poems about the topic of light. They discovered
personalities and stories from English literature, dealt with sketches in comics (Peanuts or
Snoopy) and history of Great Britain. For a presentation, they role-played scenes from English
history in the form of comedy.
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Biology: they examined the light closely in waves and dealt with it as one of the conditions for
life of plants and all living beings. They researched pigments and tissues of the plants,
processes of photosynthesis and with the help of IKT they measured the activation which
influences breathing of plants for three days. They researched cliffs on the gulf of Strunjan
and vegetation by the lake of Fiesa.
Chemistry: they researched the influence of sunbeams on the body and examined closely the
structure of sun creams. They researched the structure of materials for wrapping and their role
in the protection of our skin from the light. They produced ethereal oils by distillation and
made several analyses of water and soil in the surroundings of the camp.
Slovene: the ethnology group discovered the characteristics of Slovene Istria by means of
literature and a guest speaker. They dealt with the novel of Marjan Tomšič: Šavrinke (women
who sell eggs) and wrote poetry and prose about Slovenian Istria. They observed landscape
architecture, the equipment of salt makers’ houses and wrote down what they learned about
the life of saline workers.
This group also issued a camp magazine.
It is clear from the description of activities that it is quite difficult to act in a totally crosscurricular manner. Some groups deal with the main topic more easily then others.
The importance of common activities
Students work in a single chosen group all days of the camp. But here the common activities attended
by all students inspire the group they work in. These activities are meant to help them experience new
environments, situations, observations and education. For common activities mentors either prepare
excursions of ethnological and natural-science curiosities, guest speakers, experts, workshops with the
school psychologist, possibly also watch a film and the debate its content. For our common activities,
we have in the past prepared the visit of the maritime biology station in Piran, research of the river
Dragonja, Strunjan cliff, the Karst edge and Sečovlje.
All students observe the night sky during the camp and get acquainted with the most beautiful
astronomic curiosities of the night sky.
The most important common activity is the presentation of group work at the end of the camp.
Students gather, arrange and present the results of their research or their products.
In the presentation, all students take part. The presentation has a great didactic significance. Students
should be well organized to make reports, finish the work, get the results and form conclusions. This
part of the camp comprises all criteria of quality research work from which students profit for further
4. Conclusion
At our school, students have the chance to meet , experience and research nature at Camp Plečnik. It is
unfortunate that the camp takes place only once a year and can be attended by fifty students, though
the interest among students is much bigger.
I described the theoretical and practical experiences of the camp. What we really attain are students’
comments at the end of the camp. Two things they consistently enjoy are socializing and
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Socializing: they want to get acquainted with new classmates especially from other schools and spend
a few days in a new environment by the sea. Students often attend because they enjoy the previous
camp, or because they heard from their classmates that the camp is good, fun and interesting.
Professionalism: they want to do as future experts, learn something new in their group, do
experiments, observe and learn about planets and phenomena of the sky. They want to do practically
what they lack the time to do in classes (speak, read, listen, observe, create) and do what they like in a
relaxing environment.
I should underline that students prefer socialising to professionalism. This is the reason why they say
that there is not enough free time at the camp and that they would change it to the point that they
wouldn’t be making conclusions or preparing reports and presentations. They find best experience
observation in silence (The sun set in Mesečev zaliv - the Moon Gulf) or discussing life’s questions
and our relationship with it (donating of body organs, friendship, motherhood, love in the heart…)
What sort of education do students feel they receive during their time at the camp, students express
their satisfaction with the chance they receive to make measurements and do experiments. They learn
to observe, to handle instruments and learn work techniques. For their personal growth, they get a
deeper friendship with their classmates, get acquainted with new people (which is sometimes difficult
for them in life). They learn to cooperate in a group. Some students begin to like the subject of their
The mentors were also given a chance to comment on the students and there behaviour:
Are these really the same students from Šubičeva 1?
They are interested in everything. We do not need to push them and they do everything. They are
unbelievably thoughtful and creative.
They are not demanding…why are they so enthusiastic?
For such students it is worth to prepare the camp.
The originality of the camp and the quality of results
Research work at Camp Plečnik is a combination of the transfer of existent knowledge, methods of
measurement and original attitudes to solving problems. Students discover the methodology of
research work on the terrene and understand the natural laws and extensions in nature.
By observing of natural and technological processes and making measurements in the terrene, students
understand processes in nature better and more easily. Other activities such as art, literary creativity
the use of a foreign language, ethnological research, thinking, observing, developing the inner
potential and happiness of young people towards nature and the world takes place. The main, key
results of the camp are in the deepening and broadening of knowledge by their experiences in the
terrene and environment. Results, which cannot be measured, are hidden in the inner world of the
students. If the experiences at the camp touch them on within, they leave traces that often determine
the path of the young human.
To conclude this article, I must quote one otherwise problematic student who attended one of the
camps. At night, when the sky cleared to the extent that a full observation was possible, he yelled out
into the silence of the night: “It is a fantastic day. It is unbelievable! Bellisimo! “ (1)
Kham, Boris (2004). V objemu narave; Revija Vzgoja. DKPS Ljubljana
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Kobal, Edvard (1992). Opredelitev dejavnosti z raziskovalnim pristopom. Didaktične pobude za
naravoslovje v šoli. DZS, Ljubljana
Požarnik, Barica Marentič ( 1990). Nekatere,(včasih spregledane. dimenzije mladinskega
raziskovalnega dela; Mladinsko raziskovalno delo. DZS, Ljubljana
Koprivnikar ,Vladimir (2004). Mladinska raziskovalna dejavnost: izzivi in priložnost. Slovenska
znanstvena fundacija, Ljubljana 2004
Helena Kregar is prof. of Chemistry. She’s been organising nature and cross curriculum camps for six years.
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Mathematics on an Orientation Hike
Karmen Debenjak
Ivan Rob Primary School, Šempeter pri Gorici, Slovenia
[email protected]
In this paper I will present how to combine physical exercise with mathematical tasks performed
during an orientation hike. Pupils have some time at their disposal to find the checkpoints with a map
where they can solve the required tasks. I am aware of the fact that a pupil can permanently acquire
knowledge only on his/her own experience. Teachers want to encourage gifted pupils in many ways.
That is why we have started to organize award camps at our school for pupils who achieve silver or
gold awards or who are successful in competitions. We shape the camp content so that pupils and
teachers can develop a good relationship which enhances the inner motivation and academic
achievements, respect for different-minded people, assistance of older pupils aimed at the younger
ones, and most of all, the exploration of nature. Learning in nature and for nature is important for the
cognitive, social and physical development of a teenager. The focus is on group work (making
agreements, work distribution, coordination, communication), presentation of arguments and one's
own ideas. When carrying out these activities, pupils integrate different fields of knowledge into a
whole and develop the sense of belonging and responsibility towards their own group. The variety of
outdoor activities includes the development of motor abilities, because we know that successful pupils
do not have enough time for these activities during school time.
Key words: award camp, orientation hike, mathematics in nature
Award camp for pupils with achievements
Pupils under the guidance of various teachers are involved in the life and work of their native town or
village and the wider surroundings. They perform at many events – in their hometown, wider area or
neighbouring countries. They participate in various contests and competitions where they win bronze,
silver and gold awards.
Pupils put a lot of effort in their work, so the teachers of mathematics have decided to award their
effort and achievements with an award camp. The idea of the camp, intended for pupils from sixth to
ninth class, who win silver and gold awards and are otherwise active in other fields, such as contests,
various events, etc. Our idea was well received and supported by the school support service and the
school administration. We wanted to reward successful and active pupils and then use them to get
those pupils who are talented, but do not show their abilities. So six years ago, we organized the first
camp, which is always free of charge. During these years, we have been noticing that pupils started to
show more interest for cooperation in various competitions,
so they are willing to invest more time to prepare themselves
by encouraging and helping one another, and gathering
information related to participation at the award camp.
When we were preparing the camps, we derived from the
objectives written in various curricula and which are the
general objectives of the outdoor school.
Picture 1: View from Mala Planina Mountain
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We want our camps to facilitate learning in natural circumstances, with as many outdoor classes as
possible to contribute to the development of environmental consciousness. Therefore, we choose those
places where pupils can relieve and relax. There is no usual city bustle with disturbing elements, such
as computer and TV. They get in touch with nature and develop a genuine mutual contact. They have
many possibilities to get to know one another, take account of different-minded people, develop
cooperation among different-aged pupils. We have set a goal to develop a relaxing camp which
actively involves pupils into exploration and sports at the same time.
Orientation hike with various tasks
Part of our camp is also an orientation hike during which pupils have to carry out different tasks. This
hike takes place in nature, forests or meadows. Pupils have to, in the shortest possible time, run or
walk their path with the help of a map and a compass. The path is marked in nature with the
checkpoints. The order of the checkpoints is pre-determined, but each pupil chooses his/her path
among the checkpoints. At the checkpoints pupils have to solve the tasks. Pupils are divided into
groups using a social game. We take special care to mix older and younger pupils. Each group gets a
map with the checkpoints and tasks. Pupils must show the orientation knowledge, organize and
distribute the group work. They have to gather the acquired knowledge and apply it creatively for a
particular task. The orientation hike enables physical exercise in nature, and pupils have to use their
head for orientation and solving specific tasks, which is generally done with pleasure.
Pictures 2 in 3: Fox hunt is teamwork based game
The tasks used for the game Fox Hunt:
Social sciences field:
Nature sciences and technical field:
- compilation of haiku poems
- decrypting messages
- gathering thoughts in Slovenian, English
- establishing the age of a tree, the size of
and Italian for Baci-Perugina
the crown's surface
- dramatization of children's poems
- building a construction which will
- preparation of TV shows
preserve an uncooked egg from a fall
- composing songs about assessment
from height
- writing sentences on the selected letter
- composing a menu with a tree diagram
- finding as many words as possible
- building a tower out of straws
starting with a given group of letters
- finding the centre of gravity of a given
irregular shape
- building a construction containing a
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bottle, two cork stoppers, two pins and
two forks; they use the listed devices to
balance a pin on the other pin
establishing the height of a tree
finding the centre of the circle
Football World Cup
making polyhedra
making rotational bodies
estimating the width of the river
Although all the pupils who accomplish the tasks are winners, they are highly motivated and the work
is well done. The tasks and written contributions are presented in the school newsletter.
Mathematics and the orientation hike
The orientation hike can be associated with various subjects, such as P.E., geography, mathematics, art
and design, Slovenian and foreign languages, science, history.
During the orientation hike, pupils are mentally active all the time. They rely on different
mathematical skills: determining the distance among points on the surface when they consider the
choice of the most economical path, measuring the distance among contours, converting distances in
the scale for specific lengths.
The problem solving tasks are essential. They develop a logical component of thinking and these kinds
of tasks encourage pupils to seek different ways of solving problems. They have to face open-ended
problem situations.
Examples of mathematical tasks
1. Polygons in nature
TASK: During the hike, pay attention to the surrounding and find as many polygons as possible.
Pictures 4 - 7: Examples of polygons
How high is a tree?
TASK: Use the listed devices to measure the height of a tree: a pencil, stick, ruler or metre, paper.
a) Stand against a tree. Hold a pencil in your stretched hand so that you can see the pencil and the
tree at the same time. Ask a friend to come under the tree.
b) Adjust the pencil so that its tip is aligned with the tree's top. Move your thumb down the pencil so
that the tip of your thumbnail is aligned with the tree’s base.
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c) Rotate your arm so that the pencil is horizontal (parallel to the ground) and make sure your
thumbnail is still aligned with the tree’s base. Ask your friend to move away from the tree and to
stop when your friend’s feet are aligned with the pencil’s tip.
d) Have your friend remain in the place and mark the spot with a
stick Measure the distance between the stick and the tree. This
distance equals the height of the tree.
How high is a tree?
TASK: Use the listed devices to measure the height of a tree: a 2meter stick, metre, paper, pencil.
Picture 8: Tree
a) Take 27 steps in a straight line away from the base of a tree. The length of steps is not
important, but all steps must be equally long.
b) At the 27th step place a stick. Your friend should hold it upright.
c) Take tree more steps in the same direction and mark the spot.
d) Lie on the floor and look directly at the top of the tree.
e) Ask your friend to move a finger up and down the stick, until it is aligned with the tree’s top
f) The tree is 10 times farther than the stick (the tree for 30 steps, the stick for 3 steps).The height
of the tree will be 10 times the height of the marked spot on the stick.
g) If you measure trees which are higher than 20 metres, you
need a longer stick.
How high is a tree?
TASK: Use the listed devices to measure the height of a tree:
a metre, clinometre, paper, pencil.
a) This method is more complex than the first two, but it is
more accurate.
b) A clinometre consists of a protractor an a string attached
on a piece of wood or plastic. You can observe through
the viewing tube on the top.
Picture 9: Clinometre
c) Move away from a tree until you have the clinometre angle
measuring 45 degrees and you can observe the treetop through the viewing tube.
d) The distance between you and the tree is the same as the distance from the trunk of the tree at
eye level to the top of the tree.
e) Secondary school pupils should be able to calculate the height of the tree from any spot. If a is
the distance between the observer and the tree, b is the angle on the clinometre and c is the
distance between the observer's eye and the ground, the height of the tree equals c + (ax tang
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b). The value of tang b for angle 450 always equals 1. That is why we (have) advised you to
move away from the tree until the clinometre angle measures 45 degrees.
How high is a tree?
TASK: Use the listed devices to measure the height of a tree: a metre, 10 cm- diameter can,
water, soil, paper, pencil.
a) Fill the can with water to five cm below the edge and add some soil, so that the light reflects
from the water surface.
b) Place the can on the ground and move it so long, until you can see the
mirror image of the treetop on the water surface right over the front
edge of the can.
c) The light falls from the treetop on the water surface at 45 degrees and
forms with the trunk and the ground an isosceles right-angled triangle.
d) The height of the tree and the distance between the can and the trunk are
the same.
Building a tower out of straws
TASK: You have got 50 straws, a pair of scissors and some tape at your
disposal. Build the highest possible standing and stable construction.
The path to school and the speedometer
Picture 10: The tower
TASK: You ride to school (3 km far from your home) every day and you always use the same bicycle
path. One day you come home and realize that you have ridden a 270-metre longer path than usual.
How can this be possible?
a) The real reason for this is the leaking wheel valve.
b) In the morning before going to school, the wheel was full,
but during the ride it has lost so much air that its diameter in no longer
50 cm but only 46 cm.
c) Because its circumference is approximately 13 times smaller, it had to
rotate 172 times more than usual during the ride.
Picture 11: Speedometer
d) That is why the speedometer, calibrated for the normal wheel circumference, indicated a longer
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Menu Composition
TASK: Write all the different menus which will be proposed for the school lunch. You can choose
between two types of meat, two side dishes, two salads, two desserts and two drinks? How many
different lunches can you create?
Football World Cup
TASK: There are different polygons before you (squares,
pentagons, triangles, and hexagons), adhesive tape and
scissors. Make a football and see how many different shapes
it is composed of. Note the number of each separate shape,
as well as the number of vertices each part has.
Picture 12: Making a football
a) The ball is made of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons.
b) Arrange 5 hexagons around every pentagon with equally long edges
c) If there were only uniform shapes, we would get a flat surface and not a sphere.
Finding the centre of a circle
TASK: Without a compass or/and a ruler find the centre of a circle. Tools: a glass, paper, pencil.
a) Place a sheet a paper on the circle so that one corner touches it.
b) Mark the points where the paper edges cut the circle A and B.
c) The straight line connecting points A and B is the diameter of the circle.
d) If you draw a second line C and D, the intersection of the two lines forms the centre of the circle.
Rotational Bodies
TASK: Rok was spinning and observing a coin on the table for a bet. For a moment it seemed that the
coin turned into a ball. What geometrical bodies can we see, if we spin objects of different shapes?
Determining the width of a river
TASK: Use watch hands, pencils and some paper to
determine the width of a river.
a) Find two exactly opposite points A and B on the river
b) Walk along a bank until you see both points at a 45degree angle (this is point C).
c) The watch hands determine the angle by showing a 7.5minute interval on the dial.
Picture 13: Young researchers
d) If you count the steps from point A to C, you can determine the width of the river as well.
e) The number of steps from A to C equals the width of the river from A to B, because both distances
form equally long sides of a right-angled triangle.
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10. Finding the Centre of Gravity
TASK: Use an irregular shape, needles, strings and weights to
define the shape’s centre of gravity.
a) Hang a weight on a string.
b) Attach the string with the weight on a shape. Then attach the
items on a solid surface, so that the shape with the string
hangs on a needle.
c) The centre of gravity is somewhere vertically below.
d) Draw a line along the sting with the weight.
e) Repeat the entire procedure by hanging a piece of cardboard
on the other end.
f) The centre of gravity lies at the intersection of two lines.
11.1. Finding the centre of Gravity
Picture 14: Way of thinking
TASK: Use a bottle, two cork stoppers, two metal head pins and two forks to balance one pin on the
a) Stick one pin into a cork stopper then plug the other stopper and stick into it the second, inverted
b) Stick the two forks into the second stopper so that their handles stick out like hands.
c) Carefully place the tip of one pin on the head of the lower one.
d) The construction’s centre of gravity transfers far below the
pin’s head due to the weight of forks’ handles, so that
balance is created. The pin’s tip has enough support on the
head, because it is not as smooth as it seems.
Finding the centre of Gravity
TASK: Use a cup, a button and two forks.
a) Stick the two forks over a button.
b) Place the button on the edge of the cup.
c) The bent forks’ handles, particularly heavy at the ends and
extended over the cup, move the button’s centre of gravity
exactly over the edge of the cup, so that the entire
construction is in balance.
Picture 15: One of the solutions
TASK: Assemble the drawn shapes. Assemble your own form.
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Symmetry in nature
TASK: In the 7 class, pupils learn about different types of symmetry. Your task is to find as many
different forms of symmetry as possible. Name the symmetry.
Device: camera
Picture 16: Tangram
Pictures 17 – 19: Examples of symmetry
The Circumference of a Circle
TASK: Use a metre stick, longer strings and a mountain bike to measure an unknown distance.
a) Ride a bike and count the number of wheel revolutions.
b) Measure the radius of the wheel and calculate the circumference of the circle.
c) Multiply the circumference of the circle by the number of wheel revolutions. The final result
equals the unknown distance.
The centre of a circumscribed circle
TASK: Four pupils were playing with a ball on a playground. Metka was standing among her friends
and passing the ball, so that they could not catch it easily, because each error meant a penalty point.
Jernej was complaining all the time that Špela was very close to him and threw him the most powerful
balls. Where should have Metka stood so that the game would have been equal for all players?
a) Three friends represent the triangle vertices.
b) Metka must stand at the intersection of the triangle sides’ symmetry lines.
Fibonacci and nature
TASK: Observe nature on the way and find a plant representing the Fibonacci sequence.
Find flowers in which the number of petals is one of the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence.
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Picture 20: The flowers of different flowering plants in which the number of petals is one the following numbers
of the Fibonacci sequence 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, ... However, it might happen that not all petals are
developed, therefore the number of petals is different.
When children are in nature, they explore it and through various activities get to know its dimensions.
Spontaneous learning together with physical exercise have a positive impact on a child’s intellect, they
broaden his/her horizon, because exercise increases the blood flow in brains, which gives him/her the
possibility of perception of the world and nature around him/her. However, a pupil needs a mentor to
guide him/her in observing the surroundings and cultivating the aesthetic sense of nature, which gives
rise to aesthetic pleasure. It is this very feeling that summons us to visit nature again and again.
Through outdoor activities we develop independence, resourcefulness, creativity, as well as work
habits and collective consciousness. Various activities in nature encourage man to become more
relaxed, which is of utmost importance in developing creativity.
Sources and literature
Kristan,S.(1994).Osnove orientiranja v naravi.Radovljica:Didakta,
Vahčič,N., Mlakar, M.(2001). Orientacijski tek
Ljubljana:Fakulteta za šport, Inštitut za šport,
Chinery, M. (1989). 1000 idej za naravoslovce. Ljubljana: DZS,
Press H., J.(1995). Skrivnosti narave – S poskusi do znanja, Radovljica: Didakta,
Fitzsimons,C.(1997).50 zamisli za otroke v naravi.Radovljica:Didakta,
Glasila OŠ Ivana Roba Šempeter pri Gorici: Tabor NNN – nič ni nemogoče, Tabor zaspanih medotov,
60-frekvenčni tabor, Natura.relax.rar. , Partizanski žlikrofi, Hiperaktivni morski kaktusi
http://www.e-um.si/ ( 15.7.2010)
Karmen.Debenjak has been a math teacher for 23 years. She's been an organiser of Award camp for pupils with achievements
for six years.
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On a Walk with Mathematics
Evgenija Godnič
Primary School Šturje Ajdovščina, Slovenia
[email protected]
Mathematics is a science developed as a consequence of human needs in defined time and place. A
good environmental expertise helps to understand how mathematics intertwines with different aspects
in human lives and how it can be used for general well-being.
In this article, some topics and activities are presented, with which pupils of the third three-year cycle
are learning where to recognize mathematical regularities in nature, and how this knowledge helps to
keep the environment.
Keywords: mathematics, three-year cycle, nature, environmental education
Elementary school mathematics shows a tendency to be used in different situations in our everyday
lives, also in nature. Such a relation stimulates conscience in pupils that mathematics is connected
with environment, and it also enables higher motivation for learning and exploring the mathematical
knowledge. Better knowledge of environment is achieved through empirical teaching during the
classes of mathematics, everyday activities, writing research tasks, work in courses, nature classes etc.
In performing the activities, we can come across certain obstacles such as level of current pupil’s
knowledge, time needed for performing longer experiments, weather and other problems. In spite of
these, we adapt the work in such a way that pupils are still motivated by desire to explore mathematics
and environment, and we enable interesting learning.
It is a matter of teachers’ judgement as to when and in what way they offer a mathematical model to
pupils for searching answers to set questions. Observing the happening in nature, the pupils can set up
mathematical models themselves or just examine them in certain occurrences. Hereby, we teach the
pupils to develop a critical relation to using mathematical structures, because numerous occurrences
do not have a real mathematical background. The pupils consider in which way they would practically
use results of their investigation, and they test suitable suggestions.
It is good that the pupils are directed also in learning how such problems were solved in the past.
While they get to know the work of mathematicians, who researched the discussed themes, they easily
give meaning to this knowledge in practice. The more they know the intertwinement and connection of
occurrences the easier they take responsibility for environment and their behaviour in it.
In course syllabus for mathematics in the last three-year cycle, we can find themes which can be
sensibly intergraded in research of environment.
In direct contact with natural and urban environment, we find that certain occurrences should be given
our attention merely because of the variety of forms; in others, we can search connections with
different mathematical models. In such a way, the teachers and the pupils together explore the
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meaning of normal distribution of occurrences, sense of covering a flat surface with polygons in
insects’ homes, predict the probability of happening, check the existence of cycles or paths across
forest paths and admire the fractals. In the same way, we can examine the meaning of constant
relations between certain occurrences, the use of numerological sequences, search symmetries and
search for meaning of other occurrences.
During examining and exploring, the pupils learn to observe life in nature. A good knowledge of
environment enables them to understand connections between natural occurrences and offer them an
insight into activities that keep the balance in nature.
In continuation, some mathematical knowledge is presented, which can be explained to the pupils
through the research of environment.
In our broader environment, we can find a whole variety of different connections, which we call ways.
These are footpaths, roads for vehicles, railways, airways and seaways and also migration paths of
different animal species. In certain environments, it is hard to practically perform the research of the
animal migration paths with the pupils; therefore, we search an existence of connections between
objects near our home. To research different connections in mathematics, we use the theory of graphs.
Near our homes or forest nearby, we can search all passable or transportable ways of this area and
draw them onto a map. Next to these ways, we also mark bridges or natural passes over streams or
rivers, and try to find out the possible connections between ways and chosen objects. We define also
the mathematical walks and rounds.
The pupils research usable values of found ways, such as the shortest or the safest way from home to
school, tourist circular way in town, naturalistic learning path across forest, economical and at the
same time environmentally friendly ways of post officers and communal workers etc.
We present also the work of the renowned mathematician Leonhard Euler and the Bridges of
Königsberg Problem.
Themes are not always performable in the field, because there can be obstacles such as weather or the
surroundings itself. In such cases, we prepare suitable maps in advance and solve tasks in class. Our
findings can be checked in the field later as well.
We can come across many different shapes and patterns in nature, which remind us of geometrical
shapes. Such examples can be found in animate as well as in inanimate nature.
a) Clouds, snowflakes, trees, ferns, cauliflowers and many other plants represent good illustration of
While observing the fractals in nature, it is sensible to make some photos, which can be enlarged and
analysed later. With help of photos and sensible arranging of geometrical shapes, we try to draw
fractals to the certain level of branching (step). The patterns, which originate during this procedure,
can be a good starting point for interesting calculating. In each individual step, we calculate the
perimeter, surface area or even volume of patterns. We find out how the received values change from
step to step. The pupils are also directed in research of this field of mathematics (Dürer, Koch, Julia,
and Mandelbort).
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b) Many plants or animals draw our attention because of its beautiful colours and shapes. We have a
feeling that patterns and shapes are symmetrical. Only a precise observation shows that perfect
symmetry is almost impossible.
During walks, the pupils found out symmetry of whole plants or their parts. For precise finding of the
symmetry, different samples of plants must be collected (leaves, flowers, fruits …) or photographed.
By measuring, folding or printing, we can define their axial, central, rotational symmetry or
movement. We also find out the number of symmetrical axes. We research on patterns what influences
the number of symmetry axes.
By using different transformations in the same drawing or with shaping procedures of surface
crystallographic groups, we form new patterns and shapes.
c) Some insects and spiders build their homes by using simple mathematical shapes. Bee honeycombs
are made up of regular hexagons only. Webs of some spiders remind of different polygons or even of
The pupils research the meaning of connected arranging of cells in honeycombs. They check which
figures could be used to build honeycombs. They draw circles into the chosen figures. By comparing
the size of radii of in-drawn circles, they demonstrate the sense of choice for elementary building part
in honeycombs. The pupils are shown the economical behaviour of animals and plants.
We inform them about possibilities for covering surface with different figures and about important
article by M. C. Escher for development of this field of mathematics.
d) The amount of food produced by plants for their growth depends also on the surface of their leaves,
which absorb sunlight. The surface of a leaf is compared to an area of figure with which we can cover
the chosen leaf. Questions and tasks, with which we direct pupils to use mathematical models, are
applied to calculations of surface area of one leaf and surface of covering with all leaves on the chosen
plant. To measure the surface, we can use the picked leaf or its photo. We must be careful when
choosing leaves, because their shape defines the difficulty level of the task.
During the food production, the plants release oxygen. According to the known information of
approximate amount of oxygen produced by certain tree species and amount of oxygen required by a
person, we calculate how many trees we need to satisfy the oxygen needs of one person annually.
a) Through the history, people helped themselves with simple tools. Distances between observed
objects were measured by feet, steps, placing a stick etc. For measuring height they had to use more
creativity. One of the best known ways for measuring height is measuring with help of rotation.
Measuring height with use of similar triangles (measuring length of the observed object’s shadow) is
also one of better procedures known, which was used already by Tales. If weather allows, it makes
sense to measure height of a chosen tree in both ways. The received results can be compared and
reasons for eventual deviations are determined. According to the measured height of the observed tree
and receiving other information needed (tree trunk diameter), we can calculate the volume of wood in
the trunk. The pupils are told that results, gained in such a way, are only approximate.
The pupils can be directed also in observing measuring height by Tales, and in researching old units
for measuring length.
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b) There are different constant ratios in nature. Researching many well-known relations is a too
demanding task for pupils (relations between body surface and volume of an organism, Mendel
proportions …). However, we are familiar with some ratios that can be quickly checked with simple
mathematical operations. These are ratios between sizes of individual parts of human body. The pupils
choose certain measures of their bodies and calculate the ratios. The gained results are compared to the
da Vinci or Dürer ratios. Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer used different ratios in their works to
illustrate the ideal human body.
The pupils are also taught a special relation, named the golden ratio.
The flower petal length, fruit mass, plant height and other information about plants represent nice
examples of normal distribution of data. Different data about animals and humans are interesting for
processing as well. The majority of occurrences in nature are normally distributed, that is in form of
the Gaussian function or bell curve.
The tasks which show this distribution can be very simple. We can pick a simple flower as, for
example, a golden daisy to observe, which one of the most common Slovene meadow flowers is. We
systematically count white flower petals or measure flower petal length. The information is logically
arranged in charts and presented in coordinate system.
The golden daisy is used as announcer of love destiny in the game Loves me – loves me not. It is
interesting to know whether we can predict the outcome of this game and which are the factors which
influence the result. The pupils mostly like to research into this problem.
Arranged and presented information is analysed and compared to the bell curve. We search useful
value of information received in such a way (example: recognizing the changes in nature).
The bell curve is named after Carl Friedrich Gauss; therefore, this renowned mathematician can be
presented to the pupils. We should also mention other mathematicians who contributed to the
development of this theory.
Nature can be unpredictable sometimes and so forming of rules from observing some occurrences is a
demanding and responsible work. If we are able to ignore certain unimportant details among received
information, we can find interesting generally valid rules. This is also the case with sequences of
natural numbers, which can also be found in nature.
a) A special form of multiplication exists among bacteria. A cell simply separates – splits in a very
short time. In optimal conditions, one bacterium multiplies according to the sequence values of
potency for number two.
The pupils are given all the necessary details with which they observe the exuberance of the number of
bacteria in different time periods, and they write down the links of this sequence. They also calculate
how large surface or volume would bacteria fill in a certain period of time. We also consider where to
use this knowledge.
b) The sequence of natural numbers, which can be found in many different situations and connections
with other sciences, is called the Fibonacci sequence. This sequence is interesting, because it often
occurs in nature (in arrangement of sunflower seeds and cone scales, in number of flower petals …).
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Sometimes, it is hard to find suitable samples to prove the existence of the Fibonacci sequence. Lack
of such samples can be replaced by good photos of samples, in which we can observe the curiosity of
connection between nature and mathematics.
One of very convincing cases of the Fibonacci sequence of numbers existing in nature can be found in
bee families, more precisely, in number of drone ancestors in each generation. The pupils use tree
diagram to help them count drone ancestors in individual generation, or they form a rule to calculate
the number of ancestors.
The pupils are taught also the work of mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci.
The pupils need clear instructions for their research. It often occurs that oral instructions are better for
the pupils than the written ones. Their feeling for work organisation is very different; therefore, a
learning sheet is a good helping tool, because it represents support in searching the solution to the task.
In continuation, parts of some learning sheets are presented which I use in performing a certain topic.
1. Find all passable or transportable ways in agreed area and draw them onto a map. Mark also
bridges and other possible passes over streams or rivers.
2. Mark object A and object B on the map.
Your task is to find different ways between these two objects. You can use only existing ways
(drawn on the map).
a) How many different ways lead from object A to object B?
Draw (write down) courses of these ways.
b) Draw the longest and the shortest way between objects A and B on the map.
c) Find such a way between objects A and B that will correspond to the conditions written below:
circular way;
the way starts by object A, continues past object B and returns to object A across other
every part of the way is used only once.
Is there such a way?
d) If the answer to the previous task is ‘no’, then try to write down sensible changes that would
enable existence of the searched way.
3. Find an applicable value to the found ways.
a) Look at bee honeycomb. Draw a part of the honeycomb in ground plan.
b) Which geometrical shape is represented by individual cells in the honeycomb?
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c) How many cells are on one part of the comb?
d) Think about why are cells arranged one next to the other?
a) Could the honeycomb be composed of regular pentagons? Explain your answer.
b) Find all figures that could be used to build a honeycomb. Draw the possibilities and give
argumentation for chosen figures.
Why do bees use only a specific shape to build their homes? Give argumentation to your answer
also with a calculation. Use in-drawn circles to help yourself by calculation.
Fill in the table with your measures, rounded up to centimetres.
Leg length
Head size
Leg length Body height
up to knee
up to navel
Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer used different ratios to illustrate the ideal human body.
Find out if their measures comply with yours too.
Leg length vs. Head size vs. Leg length up to Body height up
body height
body height
knee vs. leg to navel vs.
body height
A. Dürer
L. da Vinci
1: 1.618
1: 1.618
Your measures
Which of your measures complied most with the known ratios?
Why are there deviations among ratios?
Why is it sensible to collect and analyse such information?
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1. Pick ten flowers of a golden daisy on a meadow. Pick undamaged flowers, because you will count
the number and measure length of white flower petals.
2. In this part, handle each golden daisy individually. Write down the information in tables and use
them in coordinate system.
a) Count the number of white flower petals.
b) Measure the length of each white flower petal to millimetre exact.
c) Calculate the average length of flower petal of individual golden daisy.
3. According to information from tasks 2a and 2b, try to solve the following tasks.
a) Write down the lowest and the highest number of flower petals.
b) Is the number of flower petals mostly odd or even?
c) Which number of flower petals came up the most?
d) Calculate the average number of golden daisy flower petals.
e) Which length of flower petal was mostly written?
f) Write down the minimum and the maximum length of flower petal.
g) Calculate the average length of golden daisy flower petal.
4. Are you familiar with the game Loves me – loves me not? The golden daisy is used as announcer
of love destiny in this game.
Can we predict the outcome of the game without pulling out the flower petals?
Search for possible outcomes of the game. Maybe the next two tips will help you.
a) There are two outcomes, obtained through more ways.
b) Use the 3b task.
1. The bee family consists of a queen bee, worker bees and drones. Queen bee and worker bees
develop from fertilized eggs, drones from unfertilized ones.
a) How many parents do a queen bee and a worker bee have?
b) How many parents does a drone have?
c) How many grandparents does a queen bee have and how many a drone?
2. a) Continue with a search of a drone ancestor number and draw its family tree up to the eighth
b) Write down the number of drone ancestors in each previous generation.
3. a) A drone and the number of its ancestors in each generation form a sequence, named the
Fibonacci sequence. Research this sequence.
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b) With the help of a mathematical model define the number of drone ancestors in the twelfth
There are numerous possibilities to connect education place with real life and nature. If we wish to
stimulate a desire for environmental conscience in children, we must educate them together with and
in nature itself. This is how they can feel the pulse of nature and see themselves as a part of it. The
pupils spend less and less time in nature; therefore, it makes sense to replace the school learning place
by a natural one and perform different activities in it, which are connected with mathematics too. In
this way, we enable empirical learning, which gives opportunities of inter-subject connectivity and
forming of broader and lasting knowledge.
Burnie, D. (1998). Leksikon narave. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga.
http://sl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cvet, obtained 25.7.2010
Krnel, D. (2010). Gozdovi so naša pljuča. Naravoslovna solnica. letnik 14, št. 2.
Učni načrt: program osnovnošolskega izobraževabnja. Matematika (2002). Ljubljana: Ministrstvo za
šolstvo, znanost in šport, Zavod RS za šolstvo.
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Mathematics in Nature – Learning through Experience
Klavdija Brecelj
Ivan Rob Primary School, Šempeter pri Gorici, Slovenia
[email protected]
As a mathematics teacher, pupils often ask me why they need a specific mathematical knowledge in
life. I have to convince them constantly that mathematics is not only science, but part of life around us.
Every day pupils find themselves in situations where they have to solve mathematical problems, but
they do not link them to the school knowledge of mathematics, they try to solve it on the basis of their
own experience.
In this article I will try to show that experiential learning in nature is very important for a more
lasting knowledge of pupils. In mathematics, activity hours are part of the curriculum. These hours
can be carried out at the outdoor school. A problem, which is routinely addressed by pupils in the
classroom, according to certain procedures, may be seen as an open-ended problem in nature. Pupils
are not limited by the school bell at work. The environment encourages them to communicate in a
relaxed way. They exchange views and experience, as well as look for different ways of solving
problems. They have to agree on which tools will be used and which measurements will be done in
order to solve a particular problem.
Mathematics teachers have noticed that some pupils are difficult to motivate. The work in nature
encourages the inner motivation in pupils. They can connect mathematical problems to life situations
and the knowledge gained in other school subjects, which is a great asset. All pupils are active at the
work in nature, which certainly contributes to a more lasting knowledge.
Key words: outdoor school, activity hours, problem-oriented knowledge, experiential learning
Mathematics is a natural science with the largest share of hours in primary schools. Many everyday
activities are related to mathematics, but pupils do not associate these activities to the school
knowledge of mathematics. Every day we have to deal with problems related to space, length, area,
time, data presentation, etc.
Such problems are: a farmer ploughs a field; walking the distance from home to school; a joiner makes
oak trunk boards of a certain thickness; a bricklayer has to determine the height of stairs he is going to
build; a forester estimates the percentage of trees that need to be cut down in the forest; etc.
Mathematics lessons should never be based on routine. It is not enough to teach pupils certain
procedures and strategies to solve a task, lessons should also include problem-oriented knowledge.
In mathematics, in addition to specific and operational objectives of the subject, the general objectives
of the subject should also be pursued. These objectives are:
- mathematics as a means of communication,
- mathematics as a tool in everyday life,
- links between the child’s perception of the world and mathematical structures,
- systematic and creative work,
- broadening mathematical knowledge,
- development of confidence in one’s own mathematical ability,
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- knowing relevant mathematical techniques,
- mathematics as a universal and stable interpretation of the world.
From these objectives it is clear that mathematics is not an end in itself, but it is an activity in which
pupils are actively involved. Pupils develop fundamental mathematical concepts and skills they will
need in everyday life. The purpose of mathematics is the intercurricular integration with other school
subjects – physics, chemistry, biology, home economics, art and design, design and technology, P.E.,
as well. There is a strong emphasis on curriculum integration in the nine-year primary school. Pupils
are supposed to connect the knowledge acquired in various subjects. This objective can be realized in
centres for curricular and extracurricular activities (CŠOD). Pupils in these centres are in direct contact
with nature. They learn on their own experience, which allows a more lasting knowledge of pupils.
Activity hours at the outdoor school
Our pupils have been visiting these centres for many years. Science days, cultural days, winter outdoor
school and camps are organized in these centres for children with achievements. These centres are
located in the vicinity of forests, rivers, seas. Pupils are in direct contact with nature, which is the most
beautiful outdoor classroom for children. Pupils can relax, move freely and are active in nature. Nature
offers them various research possibilities and creativity. It encourages them to seek various ways of
solving problems. They communicate and exchange views and experience. At the outdoor school,
pupils forget computers and TVs, they practise various sports. In the context of activities carried out
by pupils at the outdoor school, activity hours are performed as well. The mathematics curriculum in
the nine-year primary school recommends that activity hours be performed in all classes. They should
help us accomplish the objectives of the problem-oriented knowledge. Pupils are divided into groups.
Each group is assigned a task, which must be solved and its solutions are presented to others. These
tasks are open-ended problems. In these tasks, information is not given, but pupils have to find it
through various measurements. These tasks can be solved in several ways, so pupils need to agree on
how to solve it and divide the work. At work they complement and help one another. Pupils should
have enough time for solving problems, as they have to use the existing knowledge in new situations,
outside the classroom, in nature.
Examples of tasks for activity hours
How many times does the bicycle wheel rotate
while riding along the Sečovlje salt-pans? What
distance does the cyclist ride?
Tools: wheel, revolution counter, tape measure,
sheet, pencil.
Picture1: Bicycle ride
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Estimate the length of the road from Portorož to
the Centre for curricular and extracurricular
activities Burja. How could you determine
whether your conclusion is correct?
Tools: tape measure, map, sheet, pencil.
Picture 2: March
Use the shadow of a tree to determine its height.
Do all trees of the same genus have the same
Tools: tape measure, rods, sheet, pencil.
Picture3: Tree shadow
Determine the thickness of a tree. What can be
made from a tree trunk?
Tools: tape measure, sheet, pencil.
Picture 4: Tree trunk
From a piece of canvas, which is before you,
pitch a tent by putting support poles in the
middle. How many m2 of land does the tent
Tools: tent canvas, poles of different lengths,
sheet, pencil.
Picture 5: Pitching a tent
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Did a farmer plough one ha of the field? What
would the length of the ploughed land be if he
made 30 cm wide furrows?
Tools: tape measure, sheet, pencil.
Picture 6: Field
There is a reel of fencing wire. Make a pen for a
rabbit, so that it will have a maximum area for
grazing. What shape is the pen? How many m2
can the rabbit gaze?
Tools: tape measure, fencing wire, sheet, pencil.
Picture 7: Rabbit
How many litres of water are in the pool?
Tools: tape measure, sheet, pencil.
Picture 8: Pool
Note all the types of trees growing in the forest.
Pick an area and count how many deciduous and
coniferous trees there are. Determine the
proportion of deciduous and coniferous trees.
Express results as percentage.
Tools: sheet, pencil.
Picture 9: Forest
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Pick different sized leaves of the same tree. Wipe
the leaves on the paper. Measure the length and
width of each leaf and determine the ratio among
them. What have you found out?
Tools: ruler, sheet, pencil.
Picture 10: Oak leaves
Determine the map scale.
Tools: tape measure, string, sheet, pencil.
Picture 11: Map
Measure the temperature at eight a.m., noon and
eight p.m. every day. Create a table and enter
data into it. Calculate the average temperature on
a daily basis and show it by using a column
Tools: thermometer, sheet, pencil.
Picture12: Thermometer
Pupils were dealing with tasks, while performing other activities at the outdoor school. During their
visit of the Sečovlje salt-pans, they were practising sports and solving mathematical problems
simultaneously. They estimated the approximate road length from Portorož to the Centre for curricular
and extracurricular activities Burja by counting steps and measuring the length of one’s own step. The
exact length of the road was determined later, with a map. In determining the tree height, they used the
ratio, a basic concept learnt during mathematics lessons.
They compared the length of the tree shadow with the length of a stick shadow. The tree height and
the stick length are in the same ratio. Some pupils used the knowledge gained in art and design
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lessons. The first pupil positioned a pencil so that its tip was aligned with the tree’s top. Then he
moved his thumb down the pencil so that the tip of his thumbnail was aligned with the tree’s base. He
rotated his arm so that the pencil was horizontal (parallel to the ground). The second pupil moved
away from the tree so his feet were aligned with the pencil’s tip. The third pupil measured the distance
between the pupil and the tree. This distance is the tree height. The fourth task required them to
measure the tree circumference and then to calculate its thickness. In all these tasks, pupils measured
the length.
In the fifth task pupils had to evaluate the size of the surface under the canvas tent. They found out that
the size of the surface under the canvas tent depended on the height of the pole supporting the canvas.
In the sixth task they measured the length and width of the field and calculated its area. The rabbit pen
can be of a rectangular, square, triangular and round shape. While they were setting up the fence, they
discovered that all pens had the same circumference, but their areas were different. The eight task was
about measuring the volume of the pool. The objective of all these tasks was aimed at pupils to
connect their mathematical knowledge related to measuring with their experience and the knowledge
from other science fields and everyday life.
Because only few pupils have a well-developed spatial perception, they often make mistakes when
converting measures. At the outdoor school they gain the size perception of measurement units and
practical experience for a later understanding of abstract concepts. There are many forests around the
Centre for curricular and extracurricular activities Burja. In the forest we come across various
attractions, as well as a great diversity of life. Pupils explore the forest edge and its interior. They
observe trees, undergrowth, animals, etc. When they go for a walk, they experience the forest in its
entirety. They become aware of the ecological function of the forest – it is used for the exploitation of
resources, but it also has a social function where we come to relax. The forest is therefore a well
suitable outdoor classroom for intercurricular integration. During the walk, pupils counted the
coniferous and deciduous trees and expressed results as percentage. They picked up leaves of various
trees and bushes and measured their length and width. They found out, for example, that the ratio
between the oak leaves length and width is always the same, regardless of their size.
Even in the eleventh task pupils had to evaluate the ratio between these two units – length and width.
They measured the length of a path in nature and on the map to determine the scale of the map. The
twelfth task is connected with data processing. Pupils collect, present and interpret data.
This paper has presented options on how mathematics lessons can take place in nature where pupils
are active and creative. At work they use all their senses: they observe, touch, think, draw, measure,
write down, etc. When solving problems, they reach many learning objectives written in the
Mathematics or other school subjects’ curriculum. At the outdoor school pupils perform various
activities and find out that mathematics is part of life around us and that we solve mathematical
problems constantly during our everyday activities.
Tomšič G. [et. al.].(2002).Učni načrt: program osnovnošolskega izobraževanja. Ljubljana, Ministrstvo
za šolstvo, znanost in šport, Zavod RS za šolstvo.
Smogavec J. [et. al.].(2004).Matematika za radovedneže 8. Delovni zvezek z nivojskimi nalogami za
osmi razred devetletne osnovne šole. Škofljica, Pikal, Kamnik.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Berk J. [et. al.].(2006). Skrivnosti števil in obliko 6. Učbenik za matematiko v 6. Razredu osnovne
šole. Ljubljana: Rokus Klett d.o.o..
Delovna skupina za naravoslovje v 7. Razredu: Brumen, M. [et. al.].(2000). Učni načrt za biologijo.
Ljubljana, Ministrstvo za šolstvo, znanost in šport, Zavod RS za šolstvo.
http.// www.csod.si/fotogalerija/
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Living Wild – Education, Therapy, or Neither?
Andy Ashworth
Venture Trust, United Kingdom
[email protected]
So – what is Living Wild?
Living Wild is a wilderness based cognitive programme for young men and women who are in the
Scottish Criminal Justice System. They would be typically on probation or a court supervision
order and usually 16-25 years old. Most usually they would be either medium to high or high tariff
Over a period of time they live communally in nature with the Living Wild team, they share a
wilderness experience, learn the skills to process it, and get the opportunity to take stock of what it
is they need to change and why they need to change it.
Where it all started – the Back Story
The programme started a little over 15 years ago when the Conservative Government of the time’s
attention was attracted by the then fashionable idea of “Boot Camps” that had crossed the Atlantic
from America.
The original premise, based at the Applecross Training Centre, in the North West Highlands of
Scotland, was to run a new project , the purpose of which was to look at the provision of “robust
outdoor activity opportunities for young offenders” as an alternative to the Boot Camps that were
in the public attention. Although boot camps were high profile and a popular idea, it was felt that a
different approach was needed.
The Home Office were looking for a creative solution to the problem of prolific young offenders
re-offending and spending a lot of their time in jail on short sentences or remand. The pattern of
youth re-offending and the consequent damage it was causing, was both costly and enjoyed a high
profile in the media. Something had to be done!
Very quickly the programme began to move away from being purely challenging outdoor activities
to take on a more developmental approach. It quickly became clear that the Boot Camp idea
wasn’t viable and the ancestor of the course programme we have today was born.
The programme – does it work?
We have had a number of evaluations done but participants completing our Living Wild Scottish
Government Programme at the 12 month evaluation point for 2008 – 2009, have now exited the 12
month monitoring and evaluation process.
We have developed a measuring tool which measures six performance areas to make an assessment
of how successful our participants have been in making positive changes in their lives.
Of participants completing our Living Wild Scottish Government Programme at the 12 month
evaluation point for 2008 – 2009 the performance indicators would suggest that
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57% are in employment education or training
98% are showing increased self-confidence
89% are showing increased employability
83% are showing behaviours and circumstances likely to reduce risks of reconviction.
68% are improving bonds with community members
72 % are making increased use of community services and opportunities
What does it look like?
The original programme was centre-based, a series of progressive expeditions or wilderness
journeys over three weeks which culminated in the “main event”, a 7 or 10 day wilderness venture.
There were 3 expeditions, three day, followed by a four day, followed by the main expedition.
One of the challenges we always faced was breaking down barriers and building trust, especially
when the first day or two was spent in the centre. The centre was our space, our party, and our rules
of engagement. Immediately, our participants would be looking at strategies for getting round our
systems, something they were very experienced and very adept at. They were often successful
which obviously compromised our ability to keep people emotionally or physically safe.
As a result of this we changed the programme so that we went immediately from the train station to
a tipi camp, a warm friendly and safe environment.
Over a period of time, when we reviewed courses, we noticed that we were gradually losing more
and more people who were leaving the course early. At first we thought it may be due to physical
fitness – young people were becoming less physically fit.
In the heyday of dance drugs, drugs of choice were ecstasy, cocaine or amphetamines etc. Dancing
all night keeps you fit and in those times we struggled to keep up with them.
Drugs of choice now are often “sitting down” drugs, heroin or strong variants of cannabis, even
alcohol – it’s hard to dance all night if you’ve had too much to drink. Consequently we noticed a
very unfit client base and expeditions gradually shortened as a result.
However when we looked closer, we noticed that they often chose to leave on the same days, often
day 4, day 7 and day 11. This coincided with days we went back to the centre to reset kit and food
etc. We very rarely had anyone leave on expedition, but they voted with their feet back at the
We were very interested in the why. I talked to some of our successful course participants as to
why this was and they fed back a number of things but they all recognised the centre as a place
where there was not only pressure, but also an escape route, it was easier to leave than to stay. We
decided to take the plunge and run the whole programme in a wilderness setting.
If the key elements to our programmes rely heavily on the quality of relationships between staff
and participants, then the wilderness allowed us to share life space with the young people in a
powerful, natural and peaceful environment. Without any adversarial element participants could
concentrate on what they need from the programme.
Today we live in the Wilderness together with our participants and as the programme evolves, we
are discovering new and better ways of achieving our outcomes.
Why this programme, why in the Wilderness?
I went into this in some detail last year and talked about desistance and reframing skills, but in a
general sense, however it’s fair to say that many young people that we work with are just
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“characters” in their own story and they often are not aware of the possibility of becoming the
“author” of their story.
Virtually none of these young people have any positive history, a story they can be proud of and
share. They have many stories but those stories often involve violence, jail or such like.
We can support them in writing the first page of their new history, the stories of violence, thefts,
drugs and crimes can become a preface to their future history, a mere context or baseline to
measure their progress against.
This sense of distance travelled, or progress made, can often be a catalyst to the transition from
“back seat to front seat”, “passenger” to “pilot”, or of course “character to author”
The skills and resilience they show can be the start of alternative future.
Simply another idea
If we can accept that any time we behave in any way; that all we are doing is trying to get what we
want using the best idea we’ve got, then it’s entirely possible that there’s a better idea out there.
Just recently I observed a family in a cafe. Their child was obviously done with the experience of
the cafe and started to adopt a strategy of moving his parents outside to do something more
interesting with him.
He started generally playing up and his mother told him to settle down – not only did he not stop,
he chose to escalate his playing up. His mother then said the same thing only louder, again he
escalated and I watched as two people tried to get what they wanted by just applying the same
unsuccessful behaviour repeatedly only louder and more forcefully.
It would seem, on the face of it, to a normal rational person, that just repeating an unsuccessful
behaviour time after time makes no sense at all. It should seem that there is no sensible reason for
expecting a different outcome from the same behaviour.
Countless parents nag countless teenagers fruitlessly, on countless occasions and bafflingly do the
same thing when it doesn’t work.
So why is this? Maybe they basically haven’t got a better idea so they just do what they know, a
sort of default setting.
Young people sometimes just need another idea, a more effective way of getting what they want.
By offering a chance for individuals to experience a new way of doing things, a different approach
to working through problems and issues we hope to see another way, another possible alternative
future, quite simply another idea.
The Guiding Principles
At the heart of all of our programmes is Wilderness and Wilderness journeys; the idea that
sometimes we have to travel beyond our ordinary experiences to fully understand the context of our
Wilderness can offer us the chance to experience things from a different perspective and a new way
of doing things. Suddenly the day to day worries and difficulties of our lives are replaced by a
focus on our more basic needs, and a necessity for employing more need satisfying behaviours.
Crucially, at the heart of this experience for many is the discovery that they have what it takes to
succeed in ways in which they never imagined that they could.
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This wild environment creates those opportunities for peak experiences without us needing to
artificially contrive events to create this. We don’t need to provide challenges such as ropes courses
or abseiling etc, (although we might choose to). The wilderness environment takes care of that for
us. For instance, we need to decide whether to cross a river in spate, whether to walk upstream or
downstream to cross, or perhaps whether to set up camp and wait for the level to drop.
We are making real time, real decisions and it’s real negotiation and relationship skills that we are
employing. We don’t need to create perceived threats – they are real and so are the consequences.
This strongly enables effective, symmetrical balanced working relationships between staff and
Safe Space
One of the cornerstones on which our programmes are built is the concept of safe space. When we
feel unsafe we concentrate on that which makes us unsafe rather than the job in hand. “Safe Space”
gives us an environment where we can concentrate on learning and growing.
With that in mind, Venture Trust works to ensure that the programmes operate in a physical and
emotional safe space – this means that people choose to take on challenges rather than having those
challenges forced upon them. Agreements and group decision making are at the core of these
Time out
This is an opportunity to take some time out of their home environment. Often their home
environment is risk laden, chaotic and very stressful, this is an opportunity to take stock, look at
where they are and in turn look at where they want to be.
Experiential learning
We feel that it is critical, in our working model that participants directly experience and take
learning from this personal experience rather than a more traditional educational process.
The vast majority of our course participants have not thrived in a traditional learning environment,
the experiential model is seemingly much more accessible to these participants and much more
interactive and empowering.
Course participants are allowed to learn at their own pace and tailor learning to their own
developmental needs.
However, as the current financial climate we operate in demands us to demonstrate value for
money, the pressure is applied to run shorter courses and more of them. The downside of this is that
opportunities to practice learning and get it wrong, essentially the experiential model, are greatly
The “Outdoor Classroom” is an ideal environment for most of our participants. By putting a
framework of self evaluation in place, that enables them to make sense of their behaviours; they
will have a method of solving problems and making decisions that will be portable, effective and
Choice Theory and Reality Therapy
Choice Theory and Reality Therapy offer our participants a system of self evaluation of their
behaviours. As this is a system of internal behavioural control, they learn what they can and can’t
control, and learn to only to try to control the controllable.
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Our clients in particular are evidence that external control doesn’t work as a system for effecting
long term pro-social behavioural change and many of them learn to manage frustration and anger
as a result of learning some Choice Theory and many enjoy better quality relationships on their
return home.
Pro- Social Modelling
By modelling pro social behaviours, rather than just telling participants what they’re doing wrong,
an approach that they’re not only very familiar with, but is almost always ineffective, we
demonstrate how behaving in a certain way will get you closer rather than further away from what
you want or need and the people you want or need in your life.
This is evidenced for the young people by the strength of the relationships that they enjoy on
programme. Importantly they get to experience positive pro social relationships and practice being
part of them.
“A Different Way”
A Venture Trust programme offers a chance for individuals to look at things in a different way. We
believe that when we look at things in a different way, we open up the possibility of more choices,
more ideas and more chances to meet our needs.
A critical part of the process is each individual’s willingness to accept the possibility that they can
make positive changes to their lives and that an alternative future is possible. When they leave the
Living Wild course, to ensure that the lessons learned are supported when they are back in their
community, they will have 12 months support from a Venture Trust community worker. Without
this support it is very difficult to deal with setbacks and the challenges that they face in turning
their lives into the lives they aspire to.
A throwaway conversation
I was working a programme about five years ago and I was working with a young woman who had
a tragic and very chaotic story. She was in a bad place and a lot of trouble. Shortly after the course
finished she was jailed.
This felt bad - it felt like failure. It was always a bit of a rollercoaster when we had updates about
our young people sometimes it felt fantastic, i.e. when we heard the success stories, but the flip
side, when there were setbacks sometimes it felt difficult to believe it was working.
Interestingly I noticed that we all treated successes and failures in a similar way- we tended to give
the young people the credit for successes , however when there were setbacks we almost
universally accepted a level of responsibility and asked ourselves if there might have been more we
could have done.
It’s easier to be easier on other people than ourselves sometimes!
About four years later I met her again. She had really sorted her life out and was doing
exceptionally well. As we were chatting she talked about her time in jail and said “do you
remember the conversation we had in the dining hall?” I said that I did although I was struggling
furiously to remember what it was I said.
She said that that conversation had played a part in how she planned to begin the process of
rebuilding her life and relationships with family etc. “I never forgot what you said” she said.
I guess that’s the power and responsibility of the relationships we have in our work.
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Perhaps it wasn’t a failure after all – maybe I just needed to believe!
Who was developing who? I wondered.
The original question?
This brings me back to the original question. Do we educate, when we teach new skills?
Do we offer a therapy, when we listen and support?
Or do we do something else?
Do we just share a small portion of our lives and ourselves and hope for the best? Or is it that we
allow Nature to heal and restore- with us being an incidental bit part player? A sort of wilderness
personal development tour guide.
I have no definitive answer, but I know that this would be a very different piece of work if it didn’t
take place in Nature and wilderness.
I would love to tell you that I KNOW this works, that I can prove it – but I can’t.
All I have is anecdotal accounts of its success- it’s essentially a new programme in its infant stages.
Although that is of course very uplifting – it doesn’t necessarily stand up to scrutiny.
Maybe in ten years time those people who have been through the programme in its present form,
can provide us with a solid evidence base... but for now all I can say is that “I believe”
I have none.
All my experiences of using wilderness environments as a tool for personal development have
taught me one thing- I don’t KNOW anything!
15 or 20 years ago I was sure I had it dialled - only to find a newer truth further down the line... So
10 years ago I had a lot more experience and I really had it dialled this time. But then I found there
was stuff I hadn’t seen or heard of, but then 5 years ago it all finally fell into place... until just
yesterday evening when some new ideas popped in and here we go again!
There are things I believe and things I feel instinctively to be right, but maybe the next big
challenge is to prove it.
“The distance between cutting edge and trailing edge can be travelled just by standing still.”
After serving in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Ashworth has been involved in Outdoor Personal Development and
expeditioning for over 20 years, where he has led numerous expeditions, both in the UK and overseas. In addition to his
outdoor qualifications Andy has Youth Work Qualifications and also holds an Adult Education Certificate. He is the
Head of Operations for the Venture Trust wilderness personal development programmes. He is a Certified Reality
Therapy practitioner and a faculty member in the UK. Andy is also a member of the Institute of Outdoor Learning and
was the National Coordinator for Scotland for the IOL Accredited Practitioner scheme for several years. His particular
expertise is working with at-risk individuals including young offenders and long-term prisoners, and working with them
to develop the skills to make effective choices in their lives.
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Catch Mana – Catch Yourself
Tanja Miklič
Educational Centre Višnja Gora, Slovenia
[email protected]
I would like to present you and example of good practise that we carried out, at our school in 2008.
Our students participate for many years now in festival: More knowledge for more tourism, which is
organized by Tourist Association of Slovenia. The aim of the festival is to motivate young people to
work in tourism and give them a chance to explore what is the most interesting and attractive in their
own place and to encourage them to seek original ideas, solutions, possibilities and how to introduce
and offer that to tourists.
The theme of the festival is different every year. It is necessary to write a research paper on the
proposed theme in which is presented an original touristic product which is later on introduced and
advertised on organized public touristic market.
With the reform of secondary vocational education we got, so called, project weeks.
In which students can be introduced with the manner of project work and have a chance to connect the
knowledge from different subjects (cross-curricular links) and make a final presentation of their
In school year 2007/2008 (two thousand seven and two thousand eight) we connected both projects
together – participation on the festival and project week - with the students of reformed program –
chef. We found out that the goals of both projects are very similar or maybe even the same:
- Developing creative and critical thinking (they have to find a good idea, research possibilities for
realisation and choose the best one)
- Team work (research paper is a result of the whole class, requirement is all to participate)
- Cross-curricular links (especially the connections of expertise theoretical and practical knowledge)
- Public appearance (overcoming stage fright)
- Own choice of work (everybody can choose what best suits them in what is really good at)
- Making it possible for student to feel successful (raise of self-esteem, personal growth, self
- Social learning (improvement of interpersonal relations between students and menthors) – Getting
used to project work
- Preparation for the final work that students have to make on the end of three year education.
How work was done or our MANA .
Research paper FOREST MANA
The theme of the festival in 2008 was FOREST WEALTH – FROM THE LEGENDS TO NATURAL
In firs part of the year we formed an idea with our students by the method of brainstorming for the
theme of research paper and different fields that the paper will include. Every student had to choose a
research field.
In first part of the research we:
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Identify the concepts related to forest (the meaning of forest, species and forest types,
protected areas, animals and forest endangerment in Slovenia and in the World)
We researched the secret power of the trees
In the field – in forest – we described the chosen location for our touristic product
We researched the meaning of the word mana
In literature we found stories, fairy-tales about the secret power of the trees
In second part we researched:
Which occupations are the most stressful
Who are the people who travel the most
And on that basis we formed the target groups of tourists.
The most interest that our students showed was for the research of the word mana. I will present you
just a few of their findings:
Mana is not a symbol mana is symbolized by idols or objects that we have around our neck or
around our belt.
Mana is a solid connection with the light, secret power which each individual, every soul of
the dead and all the spirits have.
Objects and persons have mana, because they got it from the higher beings.
Heavenly food – cereal from the sky and bread of angels.
Heavenly food - the bread of life by the evangelist Ivan.
Mana is a concept with which we interpret the function of the world. It means the foundation if
the reason why some things happen. There are reasons beyond visual reasons.
Its something more, something that we don’t understand, something that touches us something
that we are driven to.
Mana defines our life and our status. .
Biological definition of mana – Mana is secreting by insects, which feed on floemic tree juices.
The body of these insects absorbs only a small share of the necessary materials, especially
sugars (5-10%), and the rest they extrude in the back part of the bodies in the form of sweet
wine. Now this is a honey dew or mana (manna), which is in the form of sticky doplets found
on the leaves of various trees (fir, spruce, larch, oak, pine, chestnut, willow, beech, linden,
maple, ash,…) and on the leaves of the undergrowth. This sweet dew – or mana, is food for
bees, which it transforms into the final product – the Mana honey. With it can be fed various
forest insects.
The results of this research students present to the class and afterwards from this various information,
we prepared our touristic product called CATCH MANA – CATCH YOURSELF.
We imagined three day staying in the woods in intact nature. The program is formed with everyday
routine adapted to stay in the wild and the program made of events or workshops. These workshops
are called Manine delavnice or Mana workshops.
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This is a set of exercises with which we learn to focus on the moment that is right now, on ourselves
and on the world that surround us in that moment. We learn how to use our senses in the perception of
the world or things that surround us.
Project week - Forest herbs
For the Festival it was recuired to make a presentation of the product that we made, on a public
touristic market. We did the preperations for the presentation under the project week entitled Forest
herbs which was happening in April.
We used in practise particular elements from our research paper and did every preparation for our final
presentation of our touristic product.
The course of the project week
In Monday we went to the forest with our students. On the field we learned about eatable wild plant
and we gathered čemaž (bear garlic or ramson) – Allium ursinum. After returning in the class each
student had to describe three eatable wild plants and find various ways that you can use them.
In Tuesday students had their practical class of cooking at which they had to find in literature different
recipes for the usage of bear garlic or ramson. Then they made the products out of bear garlic for the
degustation, tasting or the advertisement on the touristic booth on the touristic market. They made
herbs pate with bear garlic and olive oil with bear garlic. They put olive oil with bear garlic in
decorative bottles and furnish it with the label that said what is it and the ways you can use the oil.
That was also one of their suggestion for the souvenir from the experience of Catch the Mana- catch
In Wednesday students transformed in potential tourists and went to visit and learn about forest
landscape in which we are installing the touristic product. We learned about the Dolenjska forest and
the forest in the area of Laze above Krka (a small village), the first DULE and former homestead
charcoal at Pahar (Pri Paharju)which is now use by the hunting family of Krka and where they have a
hunting lodge, pasture and orchard.
We were led by an experienced hunter who, in a friendly and unobtrusive manner presented us with:
- features of the carstic landscape,
- climatic conditions of the area,
- forest stand and the tree and shrub species,
- deer and other animals in the area
- economic use and exploitation of space
- social structure of the population from the area in history and today
- today’s tasks in this hunting area (coexistence of humans and wildlife in this area and protection and
preservation of natural environment)
When hunting cabin fire was lit everyone could grill their own sausage which was really tasty after
such hard work of learning and understanding of everything works.
We also have conducted some Mana workshops, which at first were not really accepted among
students. Through the workshops students calmed down in quietness of the forest and became more
susceptible for the surrounding area. Mana had a miraculous impact on them. Therefore at the end they
discovered that this is something beyond in their words something normal.
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In Thursday students mad a advertisement material (the program of the touristic product, invitations to
visit the stand, they wrote instructions for Mana workshops), they made inscription for the stand,
advertisement tree, they made a contest game in the knowledge of different types of wood, they agreed
and set up every props for the Mana ritual. The wrote on the wood different names of Mana
workshops and they prepared other equipment for the stand and made souvenirs for the visitors (Mana
key rings, dream catchers)
In Friday students presented their idea to the expert committee and to passerby on a stand in Prešernov
square in Ljubljana. After the beginning stage fright they became independent touristic animators who
attracted many visitors to the stand where they explained them what Mana is, how to catch that
something beyond and how to on that very spot catch a bit of Mana with the help of Mana ritual.
The stand was designed and equipped so the visitor can have a chance to catch the Mana with all of his
senses: mouth – the pate made of bear garlic eyes can relax on green and brown shades of the stand,
the ear of the visitors can be calm down from the bird singing and the touch was eased by the
tenderness and the warmth of the different wood samples.
I can conclude by saying that the combination of the two projects was very successful for the students
as well as for the mentors. And that we in that manner caught each our own Mana. We accomplished
something more, what we could not achieve with the usual teaching:
- team work with the participation of the whole class
- students were very successful at their work and the overcame stage fright
- they connected touristic competition with their field of study
- they combined theoretical and practical knowledge of their expertise
- they presented their work to their schoolmates and other students and employees of the school
-they lived another school week in a different way
-the learning was relaxed, based on experiences and in nature
-they were developing manual skills and a sense for aesthetics
- they were learning about new materials at the making of the stand and at doing souvenirs
- it was made better relationships between students and mentors
- the students were rewarded for their work ( they got an award and a grade in the grade book)
It may be that the forest Mana is not a legend, but it is that something beyond, what every person
In everyday tempo, a person can’t realise a presence of Mana so it is the easiest way to catch it in the
forest in the arms of the natural wealth.
The time that a person spends in the forest in the manner that he turns up all the senses, it makes him
possible to feel the six sense- Mana.
We all students and mentors caught mana with the help of project week and with it we caught
ourselves. We enriched ourselves with new knowledge and experiences which will help us in
vocational and everyday life.
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Bouchardon, P.(2000). Zdravilna energija dreves,založba Ara, Ljubljana
Brus, R.(2004).Drevesne vrste na Slovenskem, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana
Chevalier, J.(1987). Rječnik simbola, Naknadni zavod MH Gheerbrant, Zagreb
Singer, D.(2004). Kateri ptič je to?, Založba Narava,Kranj
Spurgeon, R.(1998). Ekologija, DZS,Ljubljana
Šterk, K.(1998). O težavah z mano, Študentska založba, Ljubljana
Zorko,D.(1999). Uvod v turizem, Zavod za šolstvo, Ljubljana
http:/www. med.over.net
http://www.cebelarska –zveza-slo.si
Tanja Miklič is a teacher of biology. She’s been working on a school with students with special needs, social and behaviour
problems for almost twenty years.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
The Highlanders Project – Wilderness Therapy in Iceland
Björn Vilhjálmsson
Áskorun ehf - The Challenge Ltd, Iceland
[email protected]
The Highlanders Project was started in 1989 by three experienced youth workers, and the experiment
was sponsored by the Youth- and Sports Council of Reykjavík Municipality and the State Home for
Delinquent Youth.
The idea of the project was to provide an alternative to other provisions for youth at risk available in
Iceland at the time and to test our belief that the challenge of being in the wilderness would add
something authentic and valuable to the therapeutic process.
In the beginning we didn´t even know the words “experiential learning”, but we were sure that being
in the wilderness would be physically, socially and emotionally challenging for all participating, and
that the experience would provide the material we needed for the therapy work. So the journeys we
made through the wilderness with several groups during the next few years, also became our personal
journeys of the discovery of experiential learning. In 1995 during a training course at Outward
Bound - Belgium we discovered that we belonged to a theory and methodology; we had a home.
The lecture will tell the story of one youth-group´s journey through the wilderness and a little bit
about the long journey of the facilitators from wague ideas to a full blown theory and practice of
experiential learning.
Björn Vilhjálmsson, (male, born in 1955) is a teacher by education and is now finishing a MEd in Educational Theory and
Adult Education. Björn has 10 years of teaching experience in primary and secondary schools, and 12 years experience of
designing and leading social and unemployment projects for youth for the municipality of Reykjavík, Iceland.
Björn has been working as an experiential educator since 1989 and as a trainer for educators and trainers at a national and
European level since 1995.
The Highlanders Project is a wilderness therapy for youth at risk that Björn, with two colleagues, started developing in 1989
based on experiential methods, and it still exists. It takes place in NW-part of Iceland, which is one of the most remote areas
in the country. The experience of the participants and their understanding of the meaning of it all, was researched in 1999
and published in a book, “Ævintýri á fjöllum” (Adventure in the mountains) in 2002. A book about the intentions of the
developers and on experiential learning is under preparation.
Björn is currently working in the Grundtvig Project “Via Experientia: International Academy of Experiential Education
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School in Nature is Very Important for Every Child
Simona Žibert Menart
CŠOD – Centre for School and Outdoor Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Carrying out school in nature has been a part of my life for more than nine years. As a teacher I've
taught Science for five and a half years in Dom Vojsko (Facility of school in nature). Since February
2007 I've been a manager of Dom Vojsko.
In my personal life I have three children who also attend schools in nature and throughout their telling
I learn how they feel about school in nature.
Some thoughts of pupils of 7th grade from primary school Fram who spent their time in Vojsko from
25th to 29th May 2009.
I had a great time in school in nature. We didn't have enough free time which was bad because we got
along with pupils from the other school. Long walks were nice, sometimes a bit tiring. Thursday was
the best because we became closer and we danced a lot. For me, the worst day was Friday because we
had to say goodbye.
It was great although they were »tormenting« us a bit. I realized that my schoolmates were better
there than at school. Pupils from other school were great too.
It was great. The weather was nice and we could stay out the whole day, playing different sports. I
could have stayed there even a bit longer.
It was really good. Long walks were tiring. What I liked best was the orientation run. I got two
diplomas. The food was tasteful and I liked teachers because they were nice.
Because I had injured arm, I couldn't go with my schoolmates. That's bad. I attended school and
missed my schoolmates a lot. They wrote me a postcard. I hope to go next year with them.
School in nature achieves many aims. A child experiences connection with nature. S/he developes a
positive and responsible relation for environment. S/he gets a lot of generally useful knowledge and
practical skills for life. S/he is active all the time. School in nature achieves many other goals as well.
In my opinion, the most important aim of school in nature is individual process of becoming
Every school in nature is a story for itself. It begins with departure. Children say goodbye to their
parents and parents departure from their children for five days. It would be ideal to cut the connection
between a child and his/her parents. Therefore it is highly recommendable to leave the cell phone at
home. During the days of separation parents learn what a child means to them; they miss him/her; they
think about what they are doing with their child right and what wrong. They also realize how the time
passes when their child is absent; how to fulfill that time; how to use that time best.
During that separation a parent confronts him/herself with many different feelings and is therefore,
after the return of the child, enriched with new experience.
What about a child? When packing, s/he has to think of things to take with him/her to have during
his/her five-day residence somewhere else, not in his natural environment. At departure s/he
experiences a separation from his/her parent, a confusion (kiss his/her parent in front of other
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schoolmates or not?). S/he asks him/herself about the new residence, about the new environment, what
will the teacher be like, what will s/he do, what silly thing will he make with his schoolmates….A
pleasant thrill when thinking about unknown dwelling together with his/her schoolmates.
The arrival. Always, and I mean always, a warm welcome. Pupils are arranged into their rooms as
previously agreed. They listen to instructions about the timing of the days. And then the school in
nature begins. The programme is scheduled by the manager of the school in nature along with the
teachers’ companions. It is changed due to weather conditions or wishes from the teachers’
companions or pupils. Pupils like the time of socializing the best. This is what they are really waiting
for. All the talks in the rooms, visits of schoolmates in the rooms, finding out what kind of bedding
his/her schoolmate has, what kind of pyjamas s/he has, what kind of toothbrush s/he uses…..All the
negotiations for sweets because some bring more and some bring less.
Pupils also get to know their teacher in different situation, not in the classroom. They see the teacher
as a person, being tired after a hard long walk, being dressed in a tracksuit and pyjamas. The teacher is
no longer only a strict authority, but also a human being with human characteristics. But that does not
mean that the teacher's authority is gone. The relationship between a teacher and a pupil becomes
more sincere and enriched.
A story of school in nature happens, and within this story there are many individual stories. Each pupil
experiences his/her own.
Employees at facility that carries out school in nature follow this story all the time, they create and
form it. They are included in it as persons who give knowledge and educate a young person. They
fulfill their mission which is to bring the nature closer to children and teach children that they should
respect and love nature. They help them to feel that their body is tired after a long walk and needs a
rest. That their body needs protection from ticks and external influences. They help them realize a lot
of other things as well. For example to respect the fact that we are different and that clean rooms are
responsibility of all participants.
For employees all children are equal because they don't know them. This is a great advantage. They
are aware that their role, their job, is very important because children will have memories on school in
nature for the rest of their lives. They try to make those memories positive.
I realize, and after 10 years' experience I claim, that it's not the same if we get to know the animals in
the stream or the method of catching animals or plants in the stream in one day or during the whole
week stay. Knowledge and experience are the same, but….there is no story. No group story, no
individual stories. No deep affection for a fellow man.
And in the end, when a child gets home, a story is concluded. Parents have a changed child. There was
a lot going on for a week. I'm not talking only about new knowledge and experience. The emphasis is
on emotional field. A child has experience how to survive five days without his/her parents. S/he
knows his/her feelings towards his parents. S/he carries in him/her his/her own story and feelings that
mark him/her for the rest of his/her life.
It is. School in nature is very important for a child.
Simona Žibert Menart, prof. biol. in univ. dipl. biol. were a teacher in Primary school, after that a teacher in outdoor centre.
She's a manager of outdoor centre for the present.
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Contribution of Outdoor Education to Youth’s Deciding Responsibility
M.Sc. Brigita Gregorčič
Primary School Fara, Slovenia
[email protected]
Two years have passed since primary schools prepared and adopted common agreed rules in form of
responsible behaviour plans for pupils. Although all of the participants from our school have
cooperated when the document was being drawn and though we are all acquainted with it, pupils’
behaviour that is not in accordance with the values listed in our educational plan has not been
reduced. Why don't responsible behaviour plans provide wished results? Is it possible to contribute to
youth’s bigger responsibility so that we include them into outdoor education? How important is the
contribution of outdoor education to the life of “right” values that the youth lives?
I, the author of this article, geography and geology teacher, worked in a Centre of School and
Outdoor Activities (CSOA) for five years. Employed as a natural and human science teacher, I had the
opportunity to weekly observe life of pupils of different age and a few times a year also life of
secondary school students. They were provided with outdoor education for a few days and carried out
special activity days or classes out of the curriculum. For more than three years, I have been the
headmistress of a primary school that is under the same roof as one of Centres of School and Outdoor
Activities. This is a way for me to keep in touch with outdoor education performing within the
mentioned institution.
My new role enables me to present outdoor education to pupils and their parents in terms of its
importance to children’s development. Qualified person’s point of view plays a central role when
parents have to decide how much money they are willing to invest to enable their child participation in
outdoor education. On the other hand, I have the possibility to observe teachers’ and pupils’ reactions
when they return to school after spending a few days in a totally different environment.
The society of numerous possibilities
In following sequences, I will try to establish the ways to include pupils in outdoor education in order
to contribute to their personal development and satisfaction. Viktor E. Frankl, the founder of Viennese
psychological approach called logotherapy, says that more and more people experience an
uncomfortable feeling of emptiness which he called inner emptiness. It is about the instinct that
doesn’t tell a human being what to do. Contrary to olden times, traditional values don’t tell a human
being what he should do. Often he doesn’t even know what he wants to do. This is the reason for him
to too often do this, what the others do, or this, what the others wish him to do (Frankl, 1994a, 77). He
doesn’t live his own life, but someone else’s life, life of a “big brother”.
Viktor Frankl is a psychologist who dared to tackle a very important taboo topic of a modern society
and seek for answers, concerning problems youth deals with. Tests have namely shown that the feeling
of nonsense is mostly widespread among the youth (Frankl, 2005, 7). Nowadays, due to modern
offers and constant pressure, youth is concerning existential questions before they enter their own
independent way of life – the same happened to our ancestors when dying or suffering immensely, or
they were the exceptional chosen ones, philosophers or artists. A modern human being keeps being
confronted with two alternatives: he can take in and realize the meaning of all possibilities and
problems in order to achieve inner peace and live peacefully with himself or with the others; or he can
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flee from himself and coexistence into one of consumer society daze (223). Not being aware of what
we want in our life and the absence of values in everyday life lead to confusion and “melting” into
society. By this means, we don’t stimulate our own acts, but we only respond to the happening in
society. Very often, neither children nor adults know what they want in a moment of life;
consequently, they don’t know how to take decisions. Their role to achieve an eventual faint goal is at
a minimum.
Youth’s values
A value is something that is worth the effort, something that can satisfy our longing. A human being
can adopt a value only at a conscious or intellectual level; meanwhile, he can also adopt a value at an
inner level and an inner value can become a motive for all of his decisions (Šinkovec, 1996, 96-97). A
value is always something worthy, without regard to our personal belief. If we don’t adopt values, that
doesn’t mean that the values don’t exist; it means we have decided that they mean nothing to us (100).
All problems of a contemporary human being are being reflected on the youth. They are the victims of
modern value destruction.
When talking about education and adopting values, what really matters are good personal example and
help when pupils seek for their own values. A teacher fulfils his duty by choosing such activities that
make pupils aware of their own values and make them asking themselves about the values. Young
people don’t learn values by listening, but by observing teacher’s acts (Šinkovec, 1996, 101). One
cannot teach the values, one must live the values (Frankl, 1994a, 80). A good relationship between a
pupil and a teacher is the basis for an education that teaches values. A relationship between pupils and
teachers is more important than teaching methods by themselves (Šinkovec, 1996, 102).
Curriculum goals realization in form of outdoor education opens new possibilities to a pupil and more
possibilities to a teacher to get a closer contact with a pupil. When participating in outdoor education,
there are numerous different opportunities and common activities that automatically bring the
participants together. Classes are not that strictly structured into a lesson and in the meantime, goal
realization reaches the added value. For this reason, teachers with a feeling for young people often
decide to organize outdoor education by themselves or within the framework of a school and not in
organization of external organizations. Teachers say they get into pupils’ good books when they get
closer to them in those sensitive years when pupils perceive a teacher as an idol. Because of that, a
teacher keeps his authority through all the years of schooling and besides, pupils pay regard to a
teacher, like his company and feel they can trust him. A teacher described is a proof of the weight of a
good relationship between a pupil and a teacher and how important it is to live the values.
When a teacher gets to know a pupil, he can help him find his strong points, recognize them and rely
on them. When being in school, pupil’s strong points can happen to been unseen and the surroundings
treats pupil’s behaviour as inappropriate. Pupils on which all the problems of a contemporary human
being are reflected are usually right. But, it is wrong trying to form them into what we expect them to
be (Frankl, 1994b, 33). They are a reflection of the society. They need to know that they behave
inappropriate and that they will have problems in the future because of that. From this point of view,
time that a teacher and a pupil spend together while participating in outdoor education is precious
because a teacher has the possibility to fully get to know a pupil.
Young people try to deny the values. Values mentioned in responsible behaviour plan happen to
produce the opposite effect we wanted to achieve. In effort to find the truth they dare to challenge this,
what will become the essence of their life in the future. There are many different ways for them to try
to put their power into force (Frankl, 1994a, 41). All the inappropriate behaviour is only a
consequence of a search for their identity, for the meaning of their unique lives. Outdoor education is
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more comparable to real life than lessons in a classroom. Real life requires a lot of communication,
interpersonal relationships are essential in all professions; one always has to know his way around in a
new situation, physical abilities are required to overcome all daily efforts and one also has to know
how to relax – and this all is possible when participating in outdoor education. It is more real than
lesson inside the four walls. It gives a pupil an opportunity to be physically more active. Therefore, in
the evening, pupils are tired in a different way than they were if they sit in front of the television or
computer. Outdoor education has a relaxing effect on children. A peaceful human being is not that
rebellious; a rebellious human being acts like that only because he doesn’t know what to do with
himself. Children who cannot calm down when in classroom, often surprise with their knowledge and
abilities when participating in outdoor education.
Nowadays, in the time of urban society, many children often don’t have a possibility to have a contact
with the authentic nature. As a consequence, those children are deprived of all the variegated
adventures their ancestors experienced. The variety of all realized experiences contributes to value
invigorations which are called experiential values (Frankl, 1994b, 72). When participating in outdoor
education, a child can experience the nature with all his senses and strengthen the part of perception
that might mean a lot to him in the future. With his behaviour and knowledge, a teacher can represent
an idol for him.
Apathy and taking the responsibility
Inner emptiness is mostly shown as boredom and apathy. Boredom is the inability to get interested
into something, and apathy is the inability to take the initiative (Frankl, 1994a, 80). Nowadays,
contrary to olden times, people are spared a lot of distress and tension; therefore, they don’t bear them
any more. The level of deprivation they are able to bear has lowered; they don’t know how to
renounce something. For this reason, a human being creates an artificial tension he needs and he keeps
demanding something from himself. Purposefully, he creates a situation that makes him suffer, e.g.
eating disorders, intensive sport (Frankl, 1994b, 91). Those people could be helped by being directed
to a goal in the future or in a part of the future (Frankl, 1983, 62).
Escape into the mass is escape from responsibility (Frankl, 1994b, 101). When raising children, they
need to have many experiences so they will feel the responsibility to live their life entirely. They are
needed to have the possibility to form their rules and use them. A spoiled child finds it more difficult
to bear the burden and because of that, a danger to recourse to drugs gets bigger. A child perceives
himself the way his parents and his surroundings does and this is how he will see himself in the future.
He needs to know that, although we are not satisfied with his behaviour, we accept him the way he is.
Duty of a human being is to find a way to his task and find the meaning of his life in all its uniqueness
and singleness (80). He is not exchangeable, which means he is responsible to create his own destiny.
No one has the same possibilities he has and he has those possibilities only once. He cannot change his
uniqueness and singleness (102).
The youth seeks for excitement and tension the society spares them from, which is mainly seen as
vandalism or inappropriate behaviour. Nowadays, in times of wealthy society, most people suffer from
too loose, not too strict demanding (44). By this means, they don’t stimulate their own acts, but they
only respond to the happening in society. As a consequence, they don’t know how to take decisions.
And this is where I see the biggest advantage of participating in outdoor education – pupils and
teachers spend together the whole few days. They are provided with new experience, they are faced
with new situations, they are offered new options they have to choose between, and there is a lot of
spontaneous conversation between them and teachers. What is essential about all this is that a teacher,
with his good example, influences pupil’s way of thinking. Finally, the emptiness the members of his
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family feel when he is out of home will have to be filled up – the same as when he will leave his
The nature by itself is surely the best teacher. But, nowadays, in times of society with a lack of
authentic interpersonal relationships, it is more than just a teacher. Nature can teach us how to gain
new experience, seek for important life directions and unique adventures or simply as an environment
that enables the beginning of authentic interpersonal relationships. The latter can even improve due to
this experience when going to school. The nature is not only an instrument to achieve curriculum goals
or holistic educational goals, but holistic life goals. We can help the youth to establish them or
contribute to their failure. Participating in outdoor education in our CSOA centres for a few days
brings pupils all the mentioned advantages. For this reason, every year pupils of different age from our
school participate in outdoor education.
Frankl, V. E. (1983). Psiholog v taborišču smrti. Celje: Mohorjeva družba.
Frankl, V. E. (1994). Volja do smisla. Celje: Mohorjeva družba.
Frankl, V. E. (1994). Zdravnik in duša. Celje: Mohorjeva družba.
Frankl, V. E. (2005). Človek pred vprašanjem o smislu. Ljubljana: Založba Pasadena.
Šinkovec, S. (1996). Vzgoja – vrednote – cilji: Ego funkcija – avtonomno ravnanje z vidika vrednot
(86-105). Ljubljana: Družina.
Brigita Gregorčič has a B.Sc degree in geology and geography and a M.Sc in geography. She has been an outdoor teacher for
five years. Now she is a primary school headmaster.
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Educational Activities in The Triglav National Park
Maja Fajdiga Komar
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
[email protected]
One of the most important tasks of a national park is to educate people on the importance of protecting
natural and cultural heritage. Since its formation, the Triglav National Park (TNP) has been committed
to carrying out the task to the best of its abilities.
The first, already traditional, method used to achieve this goal are lectures on the nature and cultural
heritage of the protected area. This educational activity was first used many years ago by photographer
Jaka Čop, who gave text and slide presentations of his outstanding photographs, most of them
depicting the mountain nature of the national park, to school children and adults. Čop’s work was
continued, in the framework of the TNP and with much success, by Jože A. Mihelič. Mihelič, who
grasped the attention of his audiences with stunning photographic images and vivid texts, also initiated
an active collaboration with primary schools throughout Slovenia.
However, gradually it became evident that presentations, no matter how good, are not sufficient to
meet the educational goals set for school children. In an attempt to tackle the challenge, an idea was
conceived to organizing the Belar Natural Science Days in Trenta. Albin Belar was a Slovene scientist
who launched the first proposal to establish a protected area in the Julian Alps, and Trenta is a valley
in the TNP that is nearly inaccessible for a part of the year and is facing depopulation. To reverse the
trend, the TNP built a large information centre in Trenta, which today provides jobs for several local
people. A nature trail was built along the Soča River. Every year in May, Trenta welcomes fifth grade
pupils from all primary schools in the surrounding areas of the TNP. Although the recent years have
seen the number of pupils drop, the Belar Days are still an event of considerable magnitude. At several
points along the trail, park rangers and experts explain to pupils interesting facts about the nature and
life of the people in the Trenta valley in the past and today.
Guided tours of the Triglav National Park are the park’s second traditional educational activity. Most
guided tours are carried out by park rangers and, recently, also other park employees. Guides lead to
the park area groups of interested people, or accompany mountaineers to mountain summits within the
TNP. Most guided tours run along the nature trails built by the park. These are also subject of nearly
all school group tours. The nature trails are equipped with information boards and visitors are provided
with leaflets stating relevant facts and figures. The most popular guided tours are the Pokljuka Trail
and Goreljek bog, and the Soča Trail on the Primorska side of the park.
In recent years, the TNP has taken up several other educational activities.
In 2006 a catalogue of workshops aligned with curriculum content was prepared and presented to
primary schools. The TNP is a popular destination for natural science days, sports days, and social
sciences days. The most popular sites and topics include the Goreljek bog and Pokljuka forests,
followed by workshops on the flora and fauna in waters, mountains, relief formation, animal tracks,
meadows, and forest life. Social science based activities include fascinating workshops held at
Farmhouse Pocar in the Radovna valley where participants learn about the life of children in the old
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days; workshops on settlement types within TNP and a workshop on light sources – what people used
to light up their surroundings.
Pupils were also fascinated by the workshop on crafting wood products: spoons, stools, and rakes. The
workshop led by Mr Mihelič and several park rangers was held at a number of primary schools in the
framework of the school’s Technics classes. Last year, a butter production workshop was also held.
Since 2002 the TNP organizes Friday Afternoons in the Park every last Friday in a month from May to
September. The events are intended for families and take place at various locations within the TNP.
Every year, the topics of individual events are bound into a whole. For the last few years the children
and their parents are led by the Green Dwarf. This year we went to Bohinj, meeting a beekeeper at
Brod, a herbalist at Senožeti, and a miller at Stara Fužina. The event includes a short walk, new
knowledge on the nature and/or work of people and production of a simple souvenir to take home.
Friday Afternoons in the Park attract varying numbers of visitors, attendance varying with the weather.
There are, however, a growing number of regular visitors.
Every third Saturday in a month the court in front of the TNP Information Centre houses an organic
produce market, the Triglav Market. The event also features a number of children’s activities known in
Slovene as Brihta (the Brainiac). Much like for all other activities held at the Triglavska Roža
Information Centre, the topics of educational activities are agreed upon for a year in advance.
Currently, the Info Centre houses an exhibition on experiencing a bog with all five senses. In the scope
of Brihta workshops, children made simple devices for listening to their own voice, and spinning
discs. Mushrooms were the topic of the Brihta workshop in September. The workshops are mostly
attended by the same children. Over the year the young participants collect stickers and their
attendance is awarded at the end of the year. Exhibitions and workshops we prepare are also offered to
other schools and performed on request.
This was a brief account of the TNP organized educational activities. I think that in the future a crucial
task of the national park will be to spend as much time as possible in the nature. Children are
undernourished in this respect even today.
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Different Methods of Work in the Museum
(on case of Alpine Dairy Museum in Stara Fužina)
Boštjan Gradišar
CŠOD – Centre for School and Outdoor Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Here I would like to present some methods by which we bring children into the museum's contents.
These children come to school in nature which usually lasts for five days and they live in our centre
(CŠOD, Dom Bohinj). Among other activities, we take them to Alpine Dairy Museum in Stara Fužina
(Dairy Museum in short). Working methods can be used in other Museums. However, substantive
revisions are necessary.
Classical interpretation of the museum by the teacher and selecting objects.
Work through worksheets.
Museum Tourist Guides.
Working in small groups.
Alpine dairy in Bohinj
For centuries Bohinj has been the biggest Alpine herdsman and dairyman centre in Slovenia and it has
been in this region that Alpine herdsman ship along with dairy production developed in its most
intensive form. From May until the middle of June, the herdsmen took their herds of cattle from
valleys, first to lower hills, and from there to higher mountains, choosing the best pastures for their
cattle to graze on. Later, with the onset of autumn, they, one-by-one, returned to valleys. In 1873, an
organized cheese-making union, that started producing cheese in the Swiss way, was founded. Janez
Mesar, the parish priest of Bohinjska Bistrica, was responsible for this change in production. Soon the
Bohinj cheese trade flourished, becoming an important income generator for the local population.25
1. Classical interpretation of the museum by the teacher and selecting objects
This is more or less a classical presentation of the museum. The teacher leads pupils/students through
the museum and presents it to them. When teacher finishes, each pupil/student chooses his subject in a
museum. They write their observations on the subject. Finally, pupils/students present their reports to
their classmates and teacher.
The method, according to experience, is especially suited for younger pupils/students. They are
usually not capable of completely independent work in a museum, and a prior preparation for work or
previousor knowledge is required.
Interesting objects can also be pre-determined. In this way we get some time, which can be lost in the
individual work of students.
2. Work through worksheets
With this method, we work through worksheets. Each student receives his worksheet, and keeps it (an
example of worksheet is attached). When the work is completed, pupils/students present results to
their classmates and teacher. The work is concluded with a summary prepared by the teacher.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Worksheet example:
The worksheet is prepared to work with in Dairy Museum. Carefully read the instructions and start
working. Work independently. Write notes in your notebook. Do not write on the worksheet.
In the museum, locate the object in the picture first. View it well and read the inscriptions on it, if they
are available. Under the image read a brief description of the object. Give answer to questions and
write a brief report. You will present a report to your classmates.
Brief description of the subject
Shepherd’s bed was very simple. It was made of wood and covered with hay. Shepherd was asleep in
its ball rolled in like a bear, so it is also known as “Medvedjek”. Here try to answer the questions.
From the answers write a brief report.
1. How was the shepherd’s bed made up and what was it covered with?
2. Why was the shepherd’s bed also called »Medvedjek«?
3. Why is there a paper on the wall and why is it decorated?
4. How did the shepherd use space under the bed?
5. Are the beds in mountain buildings today such as those in the museum?
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
3. Museum Tourist Guides
The teacher distributes leaflets with the text to the students. Each pupil/student receives his own. One
pupil/student gets the role of facilitator. Others get the text that presents their part of work in museum.
Facilitator leads schoolmates through the museum, while others present their parts of it.
If it is necessary, extra instructions are given by the teacher.
Examples of leaflets with text (facilitator and one pupil/student):
1st room
2nd room
3th room
4th room
2nd room
cheese making
types of cheese
4. Working in small groups
Pupils/students are divided into four groups. Each group gets its own worksheet. Groups are divided
all around the museum; each group has ten minutes to answer the questions in each room. When work
in the rooms is completed, all groups meet in the first room. Teacher makes an introduction, each
group presents one room. Finally, the teacher makes a conclusion.
Worksheet example:
Third one in the row in this room of the Museum.
1. Question number 1
2. Question number 2
3. Question number 3
4. Question number 4
5. Question number 5
3th room
4th room
1. Question number 1
2. Question number 2
3. Question number 3
4. Question number 4
5. Question number 5
2nd room
1. Question number 1
2. Question number 2
3. Question number 3
4. Question number 4
5. Question number 5
1th room
1. Question number 1
2. Question number 2
3. Question number 3
4. Question number 4
5. Question number 5
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Instructions: text
Group A
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Zelenci – Nature Reserve
Marija Zupanc
CŠOD – Centre for School and Outdoor Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Taking a trip to Zelenci means visiting a Nature Reserve, an area where in principle our presence
should be unnoticed. We are just guests there, so we must behave accordingly.
The source of Sava Dolinka, Zelenci and its marsh, was proclaimed a nature reserve in 1992, because
of its exceptional landscape, biological, hydrological and geological importance. The marshy locality
is characterized by a variety of features such as moor, swamp, trees which are dependent on the high
humidity contents of the surroundings. The site is part of Natura 2000 European ecological network.
The beauty of Zelenci was acclaimed by the famous British scientist Sir Humphry Davy: »I became
very fond of the valley of the river Sava with all its waterfalls and lakes. I do not know anything more
beautiful in Europe.«
Water sources vary a great deal. The beautiful Sava Dolinka appears as a small lake, looks like an
emerald, hidden among bushes and trees.
The Gornjesavska valley and the nearby Planica valley are of tectonic origin, with visible traces of
glacial activity in the distant past. During the last ice age some 20 000 years ago, the Planica valley
was covered by the Planica glacier and along its end moraine a lake was formed. The Podkoren Lake
was much larger than today, tis is confirmed by the lake sediments on Prodi, near Rateče, which is 8
m than present- day altitude of the site where the water leaves Zelenci. The sediments of the one-time
lake consist of lacustrine limestone, known to the local people as krida- chalk. Zelenci therefore
represent the remains of a once magnificant lake, to the east of which stretches the Podkoren swamp
Karavanken Mountains to the north forming a relatively uniform series of Paleozoic rocks, covered by
woods and rare pastures. The Julian Alps look different. Their rocks date back to the middle and upper
triads or Mesozoic. They are covered with woods only at lower levels. Solitary larches persist at
greater heights, while after them there is nothing but bare rocks and mountain pastures.
The Sava first takes its source as the Nadiža Fall in Tamar valley. The waters of the Nadiža and other
streams flowing down the slopes soon disappear in the alluvium. Reaching the lowest level, they strike
upon the moraine and gush to the surface in a multitude of springs, filling the lake. This is known as
the source of the Sava Dolinka. The water also emerges from the very bottom of Zelenci, pouring out
of little volcanos. Other sources are scattered over the swamp along Zelenci, the local people refer to
them as kettles.
The water from the Zelenci sources is very cold. The winter temperature is 5° C, and a fair degree
higher in summer. Cold water inhibits spreading of algae in the lake. The underground water, saturated
with carbonate, begins to release limestone under changed physical- chemical conditions. In the calm
waters the limestone settles at the bottom of the lake as chemical sediment.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Vegetation around Zelenci
The plant life is highly diversified and species requiring high moisture are predominant. Most
interesting from a botanical point of view is the eastern part of swamp with a large indentation of
moor, known as Drni. Drni is a low bog covered with typical peat mosses (Sphagnum spp) and other
plants growing in bogs and marshes.
Drni is surrounded by still- standing waters, the entire area as far as Zelenci is overgrown with Carex
rostata, which dominates the view of the swamp as a whole.
Growing beside them are numerous other plants, characteristic for bogs and marshes: the roundleaved and long-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia and D. anglica), both interesting insectivorus.
Another insectivorous plant is Bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris) with orange- yellow blossoms and
special pouches into which it catches little animals such as water fleas.
The Erica family is represented by two typical bog species: marsh Andromeda (Andromeda polifolia)
and Cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris). The first to blossom in spring is Menyanthes trifoliana, with
beautiful white blossoms, densely awned on the inside. Interesting is also Pedicularis palustris, its
name is associated with the fact that from these plants people extracted a flea repellent.
The most abundantly represented among the plants of the area are the Sedge family most of which
have three- edged stalks. One of them is Rhynochospora alba and very rare R. fusca. Very interesting
is alsoTrichoporum alpinum with a tuft of long white hairs.
Interesting sedge species are also Carex lasiocarpa- Drni is the only locality of Carex lasiocarpa in
Slovenia and also very rare Carex limosa.
Interesting sedge is Cladium mariscus, which grows up to 2 m high. It owns its name to the edge of
the leaves which is sharp, with big curved denticles.
At the margin of the swamp we can find Phragmites australis, which points to habitat changes.
Along Zelenci one comes across Triglochin palustre and Winter Horstails (Equisetum hiemale)
A number of highly interesting plant associations can be found in the bog area. Some of these are
widespread in Central Europe, but in Slovenia can only be found at Zelenci.
The animals of Zelenci
Zelenci is home to numerous animals. Most of them have a special rhythm of life and we have to be
there at the right moment while they are active. In the water habitats and its surroundings we can find
several species of dragonflies, mayflies (Ephemeroptera), which are important link of the nutrition
chain consumed by the autochtonus fish Brown Trout (Salmo trutta fario).Dragon-Fly larvae have a
catching mask and their preys are mostly mosquito larvae. Pollution from the main road, specialy
engine oil can damage dragon- flies’ larve. Water beetles, like Gyrinus notatus never stop turning
around its axis. Water spider (Argyoneta aquatica) spins its web below the water surface.
Zelenci is highly important to certain amphibians, although their number is steadily decreasing due to
human influences. Here you can find Common Frog (Rana temporaria), the numbers of Common
frogs has decreased drastically because of traffic. Other amphibians are: Edible Frogs (Rana
esculenta), Common Toad (Bufo bufo) and Common Treefrog (Hyla arborea). In the group of tailed
batrachians we can find Alpine Newt (Triturus alpestris), much greater rarity is the Crested Newt
(Triturus cristatus).
Reptiles represented in the swamp are: Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), Common Viper (Vipera berus),
Viviparous Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) and Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis).
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Birds are quite abundant: here you can see Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Moorhen (Gallinula
chloropus), Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus), Corncrake (Crex crex), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos),
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). Another interesting species here is Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), which is
very rare and endangered. Among the migration period there are also other ducks: Garganey (Anas
querquedula), Teal (Anas crecca), Wigeon (Anas penelope). From time to time flocks of Blackheaded
Gulls (Larus ridibundus) and Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) gather on the swamp. It is also visited by
Heron (Ardea cinerea), Coot (Fulica atra), White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) and even Black Stork
(Ciconia nigra).
Among mammals living in the Zelenci areas we can see roe deer, fox or even a stag. The swamp is a
shelter to other small mammals: shrew-mice, voles, different mice, the Stoat (Mustella erminea),
Water Shrew (Neomys fodiens). There are several species of bats, some of them are endangered.
Zelenci and its surrounding marshland is an exceptional aquatic habitat, most of which are higly
The aims of protecting Zelenci include:
- preservation of an exceptional water source: the lake with little volcanos, where water gushes
to the surface in the bubbling springs
- preservation of a marsh whose central area transforms into a bog
- preservation of plant and animal species
- preservation of the typical landscape
- preservation of the local geological characteristics
- scientific- research and study- demonstrative work.
Gregori, J., 1979/80; Zelenci, izvir Save Dolinke, Proteus, 42: 94- 97
Gregori, J., 1980: Zelenci, izvir Save Dolinke, Kulturni in naravni spomeniki Slovenije, Zbirka
vodnikov, 97, Zavod RS za varstvo naravne in kulturne dediščine
Gregori, J., 1994: Zelenci naravni rezervat, Nature Reserve, Naturreservat, Triglavski narodni park
Gregori, J. (et al), 2006: Narava v gorskem svetu, Ljubljana: Planinska zveza Slovenije
Kozinc, Ž., 1999: Lep dan kliče: 150 izletov po Sloveniji, Modrijan, str. 353- 354
Maher, I., 1990: Zelenci- rezervat ali akumulacija?. Planinski vestnik, 90 (9): 370-374
Maher, I., 1993: Zelenci, zavarovani in ogroženi. Gea, 3(5): 20- 21
Martinčič, A.,1988: Flora in vegetacija barja Drni pri Zelencih, Biološki vestnik, 36 (3): 19-32
Skoberne, P., 1988Sto naravnih znamenitosti Slovenije, Prešernova družba v Ljubljani, str. 80- 81
Trilar, T. (et al), 2004: Narava Slovenije Alpe, Prirodoslovni muzej, str. 69- 70
Wraber, T., in Skoberne, P., 1989: Rdeči seznam ogroženih praprotnic in semenk Slovenije, Varstvo
narave 14- 15, Ljubljana
Marija Zupanc is a teacher of chemistry and biology. She’s been teaching nature science in outdoor centre for several years.
She loves and explores nature in her professional and private life.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Observation Skills through Nature Play
M.Sc. Živa Pečavar
CŠOD – Centre for School and Outdoor Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Many children nowadays show lack of observation skills. This is a consequence of many factors, with
the fact that children spend hardly any time in nature ranking high on the list. Outdoor education is a
great tool to help children improve their observation skills. Just the fact that we spend more time
outdoors helps, and a lot of instructors put some emphasis on observation. These include not only
visual perception but smells, sounds and touch as well. In our OEE centre we work with primary age
children and do a lot of games and activities to increase children’s awareness and perception. In the
workshop I will demonstrate how I help children to observe small animals, pay attention to details and
learn to use a simple classification key.
The author Peter M. Leschak said: "All of us are watchers - of television, of time clocks, of traffic on
the freeway - but few are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing" (Finest Quotes web
page). We live in small flats with heating and air conditioning, travel in cars on well paved roads,
work in offices, eat processed food, and surround ourselves with constant entertainment (and
distraction) of radio and television. One thing that we hardly use anymore in our sheltered day-to-day
routines are observation skills.
The authors of Teaching in the Outdoors, the reading material in many courses in outdoor education in
the US, agree: "There is a vital need, especially among the youth of today's urban culture, to develop
an awareness of the natural wonders of this amazing world" (Hammerman, 2001, p. 14).
Observation skills are not only useful when it comes to spending time in nature; being in tune with our
surroundings can be beneficial in other aspects of life as well. It is apparent that by being constantly
aware one can prevent pick-pocketing or similar annoyances which can occur in bigger cities. But
practicing awareness also helps us to deal with other people, learn and remember things better, do our
jobs more efficiently, and simply be more in touch with everything that is happening around us.
Industrialist Eugene G. Grace once said: "If I were to prescribe one process in the training of men
which is fundamental to success in any direction, it would be thoroughgoing training in the habit of
accurate observation. It is a habit which every one of us should be seeking ever more to perfect."
(World of Quotes web page)
Deep awareness of everything that is happening around us used to be common and very important in
lives of our ancestors. Had they not been aware, had they not paid attention to their surroundings, they
would not have been able to find or catch food. Besides, there were a number of potential dangers they
had to pay attention to in order to avoid them. Being aware and noticing details was one of their
primary brain patterns. "We all inherit the potential brainpower that our hunter-gatherer ancestors used
with extraordinary intelligence in order to survive. Our brainpower includes a huge capacity to
perceive subtle and minute details, to notice all sorts of shapes, colours smells, sounds, designs,
movements, sequences, changes, patterns, and anomalies in our environment. These sensory
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
perceptions can be honed – with time and curiosity – into the mental habits of a well developed
'naturalist intelligence'." (Young, Haas, McGown, 2008, p.19)
Therefore we do have the capability; we simply do not use it much because it is not that vital in our
modern lives. When children are very young, parents try hard to develop their sensory awareness.
Children are surrounded by colourful toys of all shapes, and crib-toys hang above them, which provide
not only visual stimuli but often make different noises as well and differ to the touch. Some of
toddlers' first words are often hot, cold, big, and ouch. "However, by the time children reach
kindergarten, deliberate education in sensory awareness fades out. They learn their ABC's and stop
there. Shouldn't this foundational intelligence be honed into literacy? Shouldn't sensory imagination be
'an essential learning requirement' like reading, writing, and arithmetic?" (Young, Haas, McGown,
20008, p.19)
Most humans rely heavily on sight, but all five senses are important for the processing of information.
In a natural setting it is fun to explore all five senses – if we are paying attention, all of them are
heightened. Often our trampling noisily through a forest, talking loudly as we go, thinking of a
hundred errands we need to do on this day, … prevent us from sensing much. We need to slow down
and, since for most of us this is not a habit, deliberately start paying attention. All of a sudden a whole
world of not just visual images, but also of smells, sounds, physical touches and even tastes come
alive. Who has not sometimes been amazed by the smell of rain in a forest, birds' song, the feel of
warm moss on our skin, or a sweet taste of wild berries? Natural setting seems to amplify our senses,
if only we pay attention. Even the sixth sense, the so-called extrasensory perception or simply
intuition, is felt stronger by people who pay attention to themselves and their surroundings, and these
are often the people who take time to build a closer relationship with their natural environment. Most
of us can fell it if someone is staring at us, even if we cannot see them. This perception is very useful
when we listen to our intuition telling us to look out for a possible danger, even though we had not
known there were any hazards around. It has saved people from dangers both in natural and urban
Expending our senses is an exciting experience for many who are not aware of what their senses are
capable of. Both children and adults enjoy these activities and games. A number of great activities are
described by Joseph Cornell in his books, which have been used worldwide to enhance people's
perceptions and to build their relationship with nature. These types of activities are among those which
most often lead to people's 'wow moments', and these are a great reward for any teacher or mentor.
Let us focus on most people's dominant sense, vision. Even though we obtain a large portion of the
information about our surroundings through the eyes, the information that gets to our brain is often
what we expect to see, more than the physical reality we are looking at.
Children know animals and plants from colouring books, commercials, cartoons, toys and other
simplified and artistically reshaped designs, rather than from observing their living counterparts.
Consequently when they are then looking at a real animal, they 'see' (or notice) what they expect to
see. When we are in a forest with a group of school children, drawing small critters they have found, I
try to direct their observations to look for certain features, like the shape of the body, the number of
legs and which part of the body legs grow out of. Eight out of ten children still draw an ant (while at
looking at one closely) with three similarly big and shaped body parts and with legs either growing
one pair out of each body part or one pair out of the thorax and the rest out of the abdomen. Bees' legs,
however, always seem to be growing out of the abdomen, which is, of course, black and bright yellow.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Despite the instruction to carefully count how many pairs of wings bees have, eighty percent of bees
on the drawings end up with one pair. All insects and other small critters of course have visible eyes in
the middle of the head, no matter from which angle the child is drawing the animal. Often the animals
are smiling charmingly at us.
Only specific questions which truly focus children's attention, after they have already drawn the
animal, help them to notice particulars. Often there is a "wow, look at that!" expression on their face
when, for the fourth time, they are instructed to look again at the shape of their ant's thorax. They
finally see it. "Hmm, I guess not all ants look like the guy from Antz!"
Guided observations in activities which are fun and appropriate for children can help a lot with how
children manage to focus their attention to detail. They just never needed to do it before. Authors of
Coyote Guide's to Connecting with Nature believe that: "All of us are born with this latent potential; it
is simply an under-worked muscle in some of us" (Young, Haas, McGown, 2008, p. 200). But if we
want to have observant scientists, artists, innovators, caregivers and human resource management in
the future, then youth need to learn these skills somewhere and what better setting for that than nature.
Joseph Cornell, the author of Sharing Nature with Children (1998), agrees with the importance which
observation has in working with children out-of-doors: "Involve everyone as much as you can, by
asking questions and pointing out interesting sights and sounds. Some children are not used to
watching nature closely, so find things that interest them, and lead them bit by bit into the spirit of
keen observation" (p. 14).
One fun activity to do with children to promote precise observation of animals is to catch small
animals and then create a forest museum with bigger models of these animals. Before they start
working, children are told that others will try to guess what their animal is from observing the model,
without seeing the actual animal, so they have to pay attention to detail. Making the model, asking
questions to other groups about their animal and guessing, all help with children's ability to observe
carefully, ask good questions, and notice details about animal anatomy. Naturally, showing the real
animal at the end is just as important and very exciting. Telling which animal is which is usually not
needed, children's attention to these animals during guided questioning and guessing was such that
they recognize the animals without problems.
Focused and successful observation cannot happen if we do not slow down a little. This is helpful not
just for developing nature awareness, but for other aspects of our overly structured and fast-paced lives
as well. Children have grown up in this pace and usually try to finish all the tasks as quickly as
possible while still achieving acceptable results. We need to show them that some things should not
(and need not) be rushed and that taking time is often vital, let alone more fun. Get down on all fours
and really look at how that earthworm is moving. "Wow, how does it do that?"
Cornell, J. (1998). Sharing Nature with Children. USA: Dawn Publications.
Hammerman, D., Hammerman, W., Hammerman, E. (2001). Teaching in the Outdoors. USA:
Interstate Publishers.
Observation Quotes on Finest Quotes web page. Retrieved August 14,
Observation Quotes on World of Quotes web page. Retrieved August 14, 2010, from
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Young, J., Haas, E., McGown, E. (2008). Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature. USA: OWLink
Živa Pečavar started working with children in a local ski club when she was in secondary school. She studied Primary
Education at University of Ljubljana and she soon realised that her interests do lay in working with children, but outside of a
classroom. Besides teaching she worked at a summer camp in the US, helped with local scouts and taught skiing. She got a
masters degree in Outdoor Recreation at Aurora University in the USA. During the year in the US she worked in an outdoor
environmental education centre on campus. After coming back to Slovenia she started working at one of the CŠOD centres
that focus on younger students.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Outdoor Educational Practices in School
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Outdoor Education in The Ashley School – UK
Lawrence Chapman
The Ashley School, United Kingdom
[email protected]
The Ashley School is a school for pupils with “learning difficulties. It was graded by OFSTED in 2009
as being outstanding, the highest grade possible. The school runs several outdoor programmes that
are embedded through the school. Lawrence will give an overview of the school and its catchment
area before focusing on the outdoor education programme within school, how this adds value to the
school and its learners and what Lawrence and the school are doing to promote outdoor education
across the town and the county. Specific reference will be made to the Duke of Edinburgh‟s Award
Scheme, canoeing and kayaking, orienteering, journeying and problem solving. He will further explain
how curriculum time issued to deliver some elements of the programme and how the programme is
funded. Areas of national programmes like the “outdoor learning cards” and the IOL professional
development programmes will also be discussed from a practitioners point of view.
Hear what a senior school leader from the uk has to say about outdoor education in schools.
Outdoor education as a vehicle for learning. This paper looks at The Ashley school and the work they
are doing with Outdoor Education as part of the curriculum as after school activities and to support
other schools and the wider community.
Overview of the school
The Ashley School is a school for learners with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) in Suffolk UK.
The school has had 3 consecutive Outstanding gradings from OFSTED and has just been re-designated
as a specialist college for “Cognition and Learning”. There are
many situations that can lead to a learner being educated at The
Ashley School, they may have some or a combination of the
following or something else:
General learning delay
‐ Learning 2-5 years behind the
‐ Reading age several years behind
chronological age
‐ Have not been attending school
for a number of years
‐ Have a medical condition that has delayed learning
‐ Has a condition such as autistic spectrum disorder, Downs Syndrome
‐ May also display disruptive behaviour.
There are 130 learners on roll aged 8-16 years, this is through Keystages two,
three and four. In addition the school also works with over 100 mainstream
learners every week.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
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The Ashley school is one of just two schools in the county with residential provision where learners
can stay one or more nights per week.
Classes generally consist of 12-14 learners with a teacher and a support assistant.
Lowestoft is the most easterly town in the UK. It now has very little business with the fishing industry
and ship building mostly gone. It is an area of multiple deprivation with some of the most deprived
wards in the UK.
Curriculum time
For over 13 years Outdoor education has been on the school timetable. The exact nature of this time
has varied over these years. Currently each keystage three class (aged 11-14) have an afternoon (2 ½
hours) a week for 8 weeks. Each class has a different themed activity involving either orienteering, off
road cycling, climbing, canoeing, or expedition skills.
Keystage four learners (aged 14-16) receive ½ a day for a term of each of the two years. This takes
them on further from what they learnt during Key Stage three and can also include kayaking, archery
and problem solving.
The key stage three learners use British Canoe Union paddle power awards and for the orienteering we
are working to deliver the NNAS young navigator awards.
New for September 2010 we are delivering new accreditation from City and Guilds as part of the
Foundation Learning programme. The Awards and Certificates in Employability and Personal
Development (7546) from City and Guilds offers a modular approach covering a wide range of areas
of independent and vocational work. The units are not specifically about Outdoor Education but we
use this to deliver this work. The titles of some of these units are, Making the most of leisure time,
Working as part of a group, developing skills etc. For example:
Unit 7546-332 Making the most of leisure time
Level: Entry 3, Credit value: 2, UAN: H/502/0650
Unit aim The aim of this unit is to introduce learners to a range of leisure activities and encourage
them to express their preferences for what they do in their leisure time.
Unit 7546-337 Working as part of a group
Level: Entry 3, Credit value: 2, UAN: K/502/0455
Unit aim The aim of this unit is to help the learner develop skills to become an active contributor
when working with others on group activities and to be able to review their own progress and skills
Using these qualifications the Outdoor Education will be a vehicle for wider learning about themselves
and other and at the same time the work is contributing to their overall achievement. This makes the
Outdoor Education embedded into the school curriculum.
The diagram below shows how the curriculum in keystage four is constructed.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
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Outdoor Education units
are part of this work
within the PSD (personal
Social Development)
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
The work during the main school day is further supported by
after school work towards the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Pupils in year nine from 14 years of age can participate. The four
sections that they have to complete are: learning a new skill,
taking part in a physical pastime or sport, volunteering in the
community and an expedition. Participants learn how to canoe
recreation and all the
expeditions take place on
the Norfolk Broads and
Rivers of Suffolk.
Some of the sites that we use are just field along the river that
farmers allow us to use allowing Wild Camping. Using canoes
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
does mean that the participants are forced to work together much more than if they were walking.
Reading a conventional map is quite difficult for most of the participants so we use a modified map
with photos, an example is shown below.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is nationally run and does not label the awards in any way to
mark where they have come from.
Residential experiences
Since 1988 we have taken a yearly group to an activity Centre in North Wales. We now take about 40
learners from across Keystages 3-4 (11-16) with about 10 staff every May. There is the chance to take
part in different outdoor experiences and importantly learners have the chance to spend sometime in
the mountains. As East Anglia is very flat spending time in the mountains is a key experience. We
spend a full 6 days doing activities and for many this is their first time away from home and the living
and eating with a group of people, trying new foods etc is as important. Many parents have
commented how they notice a big difference in their child on returning from a Wales trip.
In the last few years, following a suggestions from a parent we also offer an “educational holiday”.
These learners still stay at the centre but go out on days out to the castles, take one of the many steam
trains, and go to other attractions. In this way they get used to being away from home and the living
together without having to take on adventurous activities.
The centre staffs is excellent and as we group the learners broadly by ability into groups of 6-8
learners they are able to differentiate the programme so that all learners feel they are able to achieve
and yet have been stretched as well.
Our Local Authority centre is Thorpe Woodlands in Thetford. This centre is about one hours drive
from the school in Lowestoft. A new 40 bed centre was built in a new location and opened in 2009.
We have been using Thrope Woodlands for the last ten years. Usually for a week long camp that we
call “Forest Challenge”. We usually try to partner up with another school either a special school or a
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mainstream school. All the youngsters trying to get along together and making new friends adds an
extra element to all the other activities.
Most recently we have been using the centre for groups of learners from across Lowestoft who are in
their final year of school and are at the risk on Not being in Education, Employment or Training
(NEET). A 3 day two night residential programme with at least 2
sessions of one to one mentoring during the stay and sessions on
interview skills as well as plenty of the outdoor sessions. In this
way we are using the outdoors as a vehicle for learning about their
options after they have left school. We have had excellent feedback
from the Connexions service (careers support) and the staff from
the schools who attended.
Community links
Working with partners in the community we have commissioned
the mapping of parks in the town of Lowestoft and with the
permission of the District Council we have erected 4 permanent
orienteering course that are available
for schools, youth groups and the
general public to use. All the maps and information are available to
download from our school website for free. We have been offering free
induction sessions and we are also using these resources as part of the
Outdoor Learning Cards courses which we are able to offer at the
school. These resources encourage the use of orienteering and other
outdoor activities as a vehicle for learning maths, English, other
languages etc.
Within the UK we have had some initiatives that have been running for
a while. The Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda has been the focus of
much educational work over the last few years. At the time of writing
this it is not clear whether the new UK government will continue with the ECM work but it has
covered much ground in this time. The ECM agenda covers 5 areas:
1. Being Healthy
2. Staying Safe
3. Achieve and Enjoy
4. Make a positive contribution
5. Achieve economic well being
Using the Outdoors as a vehicle for learning it is possible to see how the ECM outcomes can be met.
The Learning outside the classroom Manifesto (2006) set out an aspiration for learning outside the
classroom. From this the Council for Learning outside the Classroom was set up nationally and has
started various programmes. We have been matching LOTC with ECM. The diagram below
demonstrates some of this mapping. Whilst this covers all of the LOTC area not just Outdoor
Education it is useful to develop other teachers and school leaders to extend their thinking of the
benefits of Outdoor Education as a vehicle for learning.
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Development plans
The School is an organisational member of the Institute of Outdoor Learning (IOL). Lawrence
Chapman is a Lead Practitioner of the Institute of Outdoor Learning (LPIOL). We are starting to use
some of IOL other professional development programmes, with two staff starting the Registered
Practitioner of the Institute of outdoor Learning (RPIOL). This is useful as it supports reflective
practice and encourages staff to look at the way Outdoor Education is used.
The school is well resourced with canoes, bikes, problem solving equipment, orienteering courses,
camping equipment and a bouldering wall. We need to sustain these resources and develop them
further. We would like to purchase a mobile climbing wall that we can use on our site. We hope to do
this in partnership with voluntary groups like the Scouts who would then be able to use the Wall
during evenings and weekends.
We need to evaluate the new accreditation in use and see if it is effectively meeting the needs of our
learners and giving them opportunities to progress in life.
In summary we hope that you can see that Outdoor Education is embedded into the work of the
school. That we see it as part of the work of the school to celebrate this learning and encourage others
to use it as we believe it the ability to develop young people into more employable adults.
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Ashley School www.ashley.suffolk.sch.uk
British Canoe Union www.bcu.org
Christian Mountain Centre, North Wales http://www.cmcpensarn.org.uk/
City and Guilds, Qualifications http://www.cityandguilds.com
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award schemewww.dofe.org
Every Child Matters http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/
Foundation Learning http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/14-19/index.cfm?sid=3&pid=227&ctype=TEXT&ptype=Single
Institute of Outdoor Learning http://www.outdoor-learning.org/
John Muir Award http://www.jmt.org/jmaward-home.asp
Learning Outside The Classroom http://www.lotc.org.uk/
National Navigation Awards Scheme http://www.nnas.org.uk/
Outdoor Learning Cards http://www.oeaptraining.info/courses/oeap/olc
Suffolk Local Authority Outdoor centre near Thetford http://www.thorpewoodlands.org.uk/
Lawrence Chapman is a “leading Professional of the Institute of Outdoor Learning LPIOL”. He is also Deputy Head Teacher
at The Ashley school, a special school in the east of England, UK. He is a canoe and kayak coach, climber, mountaineer,
orienteer and off road bike leader and in his spare time he runs scouting for 14-18 year olds in Lowestoft and is one of 3
organisers of the Lowestoft Christmas Day Charity swim raising £13,000 a year for local charity by taking a dip I the North
Sea on Christmas Day.
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Outdoor Experiences as a Support to Indoor Teaching and Learning
Dr Mojca Čepič
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
Three examples of the observations of shadows in nature: umbrae and penumbras, shadows of leafless
branches and images of the Sun bellow the trees are considered and their modelling in a classroom is
Teaching and learning in school often starts from artificial and idealized problems, followed by
discussion of the phenomena associated with such artificial problems and even in conclusions the
problems are not related to everyday phenomena and students’ experiences. Well known examples in
physics are studies of motion with negligible friction and air or water resistance, heat transfer without
heat losses, electric currents without resistance in wires, mirrors and lenses with well defined focal
points and more. It is well known that such way of teaching inactivate students because they do not
accept the new knowledge as something relevant for their everyday life.
In this contribution we present the approach where as initial motivation a student’s experience from
nature is used. For the usually complex phenomenon observed in nature the model is built in the
classroom which emphasizes most relevant phenomena taking part in the observation in the nature.
The model is discussed, studied and with its help new knowledge is introduced to students. By this
approach the studied concept are thoroughly connected to the experiences. Using this approach with
interesting natural phenomena as motivation, students become interested in observing interesting
things when being in nature and trying to understand them or to ask the teacher for explanation.
Practical examples
As practical examples are always the best illustration of the general description of approaches, we
present three interesting examples from the same area of physics – from optics. Shadows are one of
everyday phenomena which are relatively easy to explain to students and to study experimentally in a
classroom. Surprisingly, even some evident phenomena still present problems for understanding to
younger and older students. In addition, an eye of a physicist still observes a number of curiosities.
Example 1: Umbra and penumbra
One of the examples that are seen every day are umbras of distant objects like buildings or other high
objects where also penumbra is seen. Although both are seen every day, the understanding of the
(pen)umbra formed by the extended light source is not easy for pupils. Penumbra in a textbook is often
shown as a region that is brighter than the area of the shadow and dimmer as the rest of the screen or
sometimes space. Even the umbra by itself is often strictly limited to the dark shape seen on the wall
or on the screen but it is not considered as a part of the space that is less illuminated. Definitions often
claim that umbra is the region in space without a light. This definition is hardly met even in Space; due
to the reflections all around us it is never the case in everyday life.
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Penumbras are always formed when the light source is extended as is our Sun. They can be observed
in regions where the object that casts the shadow is distant with respect to the screen, on which the
shadow is observed. For the beginning of the lecture the students are made aware of the presence of
the penumbras outside in nature. The teacher takes the photos or he/she can prepare them in advance.
The pictures are later used to enliven the memory of details. Here we consider two examples of
penumbra observed in the nature in the sunlight. In Fig. 1-left the author takes a picture of her own
shadow. The shadow of the author is sharp, as her distance from the screen (ground) is approximately
one meter. On the other hand, wall shadow has diffuse edges, as the wall is more distant
(approximately a few meters away). Fig. 1-right shows the same phenomenon, only the effect is even
more pronounced due to the two reasons. The wall (the mountain chain in this case) is a few
kilometres away and the screen (the snowy slope) is tilted away from the sunlight. Therefore the
author’s shadow is very elongated, in addition, the penumbra region caused by the distant mountain is
more than 100 m wide and the continuous change of brightness within the penumbra is clearly seen.
Figure 1 The umbra and the penumbra of the near (the author) and the far (the wall) object (left). The umbra and
the penumbra of the near (the author) and the far (distant mountain) object seen on the tilted snow-screen (right).
To make students aware that within the penumbra region the continuous change of the brightness is
found and why it is so, the classroom model is helpful. The set of overhead projectors presents the
extended light source. For the object that casts the shadow, anything can be used. We have used the
circular piece of cardboard. For the screen any spacious bright and even area is appropriate, the best is
the white board as it allows for sketches of shadows.
The set of overhead projectors is put in the line in a distance of 2-3 meters in such a way that all of
them cast the light to the same frame. The object is placed in front of the screen about 20 - 30 cm away
of it. The overhead projectors are turned on one after another and the shadow is observed. The
object illuminated by one light source only casts a sharp shadow. Two overhead projectors cast two
overlapping shadows. The region where shadows do not overlap is brighter than the overlapping
shadow region and darker as the region without a shadow. It is worth to connect shadows and light
sources by switching overhead projectors off and on and marking shadows on the board. The
brightness gradient increases when more and more overhead projectors are turned on. Finally, the
teacher can show the penumbra formed by the extended light source (Fig.2 – upper left). The regions
of the continuous and stepwise brightness regions (Fig.2 – below) are discussed and related.
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Example 2: Shadows of leafless branches
The motivation for the next example is hidden already in Fig.1-left. The vertical shadow line of a
distant wall is much sharper than a horizontal one. The observation has the same reasons as the
observation reported by Minaert1. He pointed out that shadows of vertical branches of leafless trees are
sharp while shadows of horizontal branches are diffuse or even non-existent. This is true if the ground
is horizontal and the observation is not made in an equatorial region at noon. The example of such an
observation can be seen in Fig. 3. The “source” of the shadow is seen on the left side of Fig. 3. The
tree or a bush on the left was chosen purposely as the branches were almost exclusively horizontal and
vertical. The shadow of the same tree shows very diffuse and almost nonexistent horizontal branches
and nice sharp vertical branches.
Figure 2 Umbra and penumbra of the extended light source (upper left). Four overhead projectors, the object and
the screen as the model of the extended light source (upper right). The object and its shadow illuminated by one,
two, three and four overhead projectors (below). Photo G. Iskrić.
Figure 3 The source of the shadow (left) and its shadow (right).
The explanation considers the shape of the shadows of small objects illuminated by sunlight. They
have the circular shape of the Sun with diffuse edges, Fig. 4. Unfortunately, this fact is seldom
observed if ones attention is not drawn to this. This observation was nicely explained by Minaert1, but
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for the students the explanation is probably not completely clear due to the lack of experiences with
shadows of small objects.
Figure 4: Snowflakes on the window as a source of shadows (left). The shadows of snowflakes at the screen
close to the window are sharp (middle) and diffuse circular or elliptic (on the table below) if the screen is more
distant (right).
Let us first consider the shape of the shadow of a small object. For this observation the window with
small snowflakes ornament was used. Snowflakes were actually the Christmas decoration, but the
sunny day offered also experimental considerations of their shadows. The shadows of the snowflakes
are sharp as long as the screen is rather close to them (Fig. 4 – middle). However, as the distance of
the screen increases, the penumbra effect washes out details and the shadow becomes more and more
circular with smooth edges. Additional information can be seen on the horizontal table below the
screen, where shadows become elliptical. This observation is seldom a part of everyday experience.
Intersections of penumbras result in regions of more dense shadows than regions of a simple
penumbra of a single object. More complex objects can always be constructed by small objects (small
cubes, spheres etc.), which shadows become circular or elliptic if the screen is not perpendicular to the
sunlight rays. The branch can be considered as a set of small (cylindrical) pieces, where on a distant
horizontal screen (ground) each cast an elliptical shadow. Regions of penumbras shadows intersect
and the areas of intersections in the direction along the long elliptical shadow axes is larger that
intersections along the short elliptical axes. In a normal situation where branches are vertical, the
ground is horizontal and the sunlight is not perpendicular, this results in very diffuse shadows of
horizontal branches and sharp shadows of vertical branches. To show that the orientation of the screen
is the reason for the observation, the tree is modelled as a cross on the window, Fig. 5 - left. The
proper orientation of the screen allows for the opposite situation where horizontal “branches” are sharp
and vertical diffuse, Fig. 5 - right.
Figure 5: The model of the branches (left) and the screen position and orientation, which enables sharp vertical
branch shadow.
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Example 3: The Sun, small apertures and shadows
Again, the shape of the shadow of a small but complexly shaped object can be used as the starting
point for another observation. Light spots bellow the trees, which have elliptical shapes, do not reflect
the shape of the aperture between tree leaves. They are frequently reported in school text; however the
study of a model of the apertures between leaves can reveal additional curiosities.
One can find two types of shadows within a circular light spot: the shadows that appear due to the
object blocking light after the sunlight passes the leave aperture and the shadows that appear due to
the object blocking the light before the sunlight falls to the aperture. The later is commonly observed
during the solar eclipse. However, the solar eclipse one cannot observe everyday, but it is possible to
replace the Moon by a building or a tree. The shadow is inverted which is a surprise for students.
Let us first start with the images of the Sun below the trees, Fig. 6. Each aperture between leaves acts
like a small camera obscura aperture and thus the image of the bright enough object (the Sun) is
formed on the ground. Therefore the aperture shape is lost ad the shape of the light source is retained.
This is easily shown by a simple experiment that is very surprising for students. The experiment is
performed on a sunny day in the classroom if a direct sunlight is available or outside. A small aperture
of a deliberate non-circular shape is cut in the piece of paper. The paper is oriented in such a way that
the sunlight is perpendicular to the paper. Another paper or a cardboard in the function of the screen is
hold behind the paper parallel to it and the bright spot on the cardboard is observed. The screen is first
positioned very close to the paper with aperture and its distance is gradually increased. Initially sharp
bright motive with the shape of the aperture gradually transforms to the circular image of the Sun.
Students can compare the size, the shape, the brightness and the sharpness of images for equal
distances between apertures and cardboard screens.
Figure 6 The “source” of the light spots (left) and the elliptical shadows of generally shaped apertures (right).
Irrespective of the aperture shape, all images are circular, of the same size, but brighter images are less
sharp. The following relation can also be established: the larger the distance, the larger the image. This
last relation can be analyzed quantitatively and can also be used for the estimation of the distance of
the aperture. The relation to sun images below the trees is straightforward.
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Figure 7 The light can be blocked with the objects that are found between the aperture and the screen. The
shadow appears within the camera obscura image of the aperture in the window shade (left) or it can be observed
behind trees of different distances from the ground (the shadow- middle and the source-right).
However, this is not the end of the surprising exercise. The light beam that actually forms the image of
the sun can be blocked and the shadow appears within the circular light spot, Fig. 7. The shadow is
sharp and has the same shape as the object if it is placed between the aperture and the screen close to
the screen. But nature offers also a different way of blocking the light. During the solar eclipse the
Moon blocks the light from the Sun and if one is lucky with the geographic latitude, altitude and the
weather (or one has the money to travel to the correct place at the correct time, the weather is a very
different question), the solar eclipse can be observed. Even if the total solar eclipse cannot be
observed, partial solar eclipses can be observed at least once every few years. If the opportunity
occurs, teacher should show (besides the ordinary security measures) the camera obscura pictures
behind the window shades, the paper aperture - screen activity and obviously the shapes of the
shadows below the trees. The students compare the shape of the partially covered Sun seen by direct
observation (do not forget protecting glasses) and the shape of the light spot behind the paper-hole or
window shades apertures. The shape is inverted (as every camera obscura image).
As partial solar eclipse is not available every year, it can be modelled by blocking of the sunlight by a
distant object. Any distant buildings would do the job and should be observed during the sunrise or
sunset or simple when walking into the shadow of a skyscraper or out of it. Horizontal walls will offer
the observation of the up-down inversion of the image of the Sun and vertical walls will result in leftright inversion of the image. Nice and surprising motives can be obtained during the winter when trees
are leafless. If the paper-aperture-screen activity is performed in such a way that sunlight passes the
leafless tree, the inverted shadows of branches could be observed2. The activity needs a little of
practice, as the images of the Sun are due to the relatively short distance between the aperture and the
screen, small. Window shades enable larger images but unfortunately the relative position of the
aperture with respect to the blocking tree branches cannot be controlled (Fig.8).
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Figure 8 The images of the Sun behind the window shades. Branches and remaining winter leaves cast an
inverted shadow (left). The Sun shone through the trees (right), when the picture on the left was taken.
Photo G. Iskrić.
Examples shown can be used for stimulation of student’s motivation for natural sciences. The studies
that originate in everyday phenomena provide a welcome link between the “school” science and its
“everyday” significance.
M. G. J. Minnaert, Light and Colour in the Outdoors, Springer Verlag, New York, 1993 (first edition
M. Čepič, Solar Eclipse without the Moon, Phys. Ed. 42, 439-441 (2007).
Prof. Dr. Mojca Čepič is a full professor for physics and associate professor for physics education at the Faculty of
Education, University of Ljubljana. Her research is focused to two rather different fields: the soft matter physics, especially
theoretical physics of liquid crystals and physics education. The link between the two is the development of new teaching
methods and tools for introduction of liquid crystals to the classroom as one of the topics related to technology and
phenomena met in everyday life (like LCD screens on mobile phones, TVs etc. ).
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Open air laboratory FLEX –
an authentic learning environment that gives teacher trainees, enrolled for general
studies27, fundamental access to chemical conversion phenomena
Mareike Janssen, Katharina Wurm and Dr Martin Gröger
Universität Siegen, Germany
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
The working group didactics of chemistry at the University of Siegen set up an “open air laboratory
with experimental field “ (FLEX) a place to learn close to Nature. Events are offered to teacher
trainees (students who are studying at university) of every school type. The immediate closeness to the
environment and nature provides an extra advantage, e.g. with everyday life and nature based topics
(such as getting natural colors and dying fabrics) as well as with the environmental analysis for
secondary schools.
This article is supposed to highlight the advantages for the training of teacher trainees for general
studies provided by a near-natural learning environment like FLEX. It shall show how chemical
aspects such as the observation of substances and substance transformation can be an initial point for
phenomenon oriented matters of nature related topics. Do-it-yourself experiences of nature-oriented
chemical conversion phenomena for students are thereby an essential background of great importance
for a future realization of own lessons.
Students with the emphasis on natural sciences in general studies are studying the single disciplines
biology, chemistry and physics at the University of Siegen, each with at least one introductory
professional lecture associated with practical training. Selected child appropriate experiments for
chemical conversion phenomena of everyday life and nature, which can be performed by student with
children in future lessons (e.g. lighting and looking at a candle or fire, dissolving and regaining lime
with carbonated water), are in the foreground of the practical training in chemistry. But experimenting
in the very artificial surrounding of a chemistry lab is experienced rather unrelated and factual.
(Spatial) Framework conditions that go together with the university education cause a distance
between the teaching subject of natural sciences (esp. chemistry) and the actual object “nature”.
Martin Wagenschein, a famous German didact, characterized this distance in an interview concerning
his lifework (1981) very nicely, especially when it comes to the natural scientific part of general
“Of course, our natural science that occurs and is shown in schools hasn’t got any home in those
schools as it hasn’t got any nature. It cannot become a natural science because it takes place in
concrete blocks, in laboratories with instruction devices and books with bold sentences. Thus it is a
science in which nature is not noticeable. I mean ”nature” in the sense of how kids or “simple“
people understand the word.
Isn’t there supposed to be an initiating consideration of nature, if not in nature, so on its edges? Only
as much as that: glades with trees, rocks, hills, water (standing or flowing), a shed with all kinds of
Science and social studies at primary school level
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“stuff“ (material) also tools in it, finally a room in which that what is performed and tried outside, is
previously planned, discussed afterwards, written down and learned.- A vision, I know“
(Wagenschein 1981, p. 169-170).
Wagenschein’s vision becomes tangible
FLEX complies with those quoted guidelines in many parts so that Wagenschein’s vision in the
education of teacher trainees for general studies could become reality. Thereby we focus on chemistry
as a so far neglected science, concerning general studies, with a special view on substances and
substance transformation as a starting point. Students should experience processes of chemical change
more appropriate, closer to the environment and nature as well as connected with other natural
sciences. In addition these processes are combined with other areas of general studies beyond the
nature related perspective.
FLEX (figure 1) is located outside a small village close to a forest. A shed is built on an approximately
6700 m² large meadow with two springs, a small stream and a pond. The shed was remodeled into a
small room for experiments (“laboratory”) and equipped with extensive experimental material from
simplest excavators for the exploration of the ground in the elementary sector up to a mobile
photometer for chemical analysis of the environment for the sixth form. By and by wicker tepees,
Benje hedges, a phenological hedge, a bed of herbs, a small acre and a “green seminar room“ were
added among other things. Energy supply takes place self-sufficiently trough solar modules, fuel cells
and a wind wheel.
Figure 1: Open air laboratory with experimental field
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From the phenomenon to the “touchable context“
In Wagenschein’s opinion, natural history and science lessons have to start with immediate and
tangible phenomena of nature of the children’s everyday life. He talks about “natural monuments that
immediately appear sensuous; in ways that we sense them as a counterpart and in ways that they affect
us without prejudice and intervention thereby also being unbiased by us and not yet settled on a certain
aspect” (Wagenschein 1977, 129).
This approach was recently highlighted once more. In his article “The discovery of the phenomenal”
Klinger emphasized which role phenomena in general studies could play for the initiation of scientific
thinking. He concludes: “If things should be clarified and understood, school has to allow the
experiencing of phenomena and based on this, has to devise a thinking of science.” (Klinger 2008, p.
8) Furthermore, Klinger underlines that phenomena which are noticed consciously by children, e.g.
rusting of iron, originate in their everyday life but also affect sciences in their entire breadth. Against
this background he concludes: “Phenomena don’t look after subjects and disciplines. That makes up a
part of their fascination and on the other side shows the necessity of an interdisciplinary approach.”
(Klinger 2008, p. 8)
This is also valid for the handling with phenomena in FLEX: Phenomena that are easily
understandable for kids become starting point and focus of attention. Based on them, explanations that
are both appropriate to the children’s imagination and wording, have to be developed. Thereby
affective and aesthetic aspects of perception and observation of phenomena are legitimate accesses.
Phenomena are not supposed to be interpreted exclusively as objects of scientific interest but they are
ideal objects of childlike curiosity. They should be explored with all senses. This exploration is a
process in which the children’s attention is fully integrated; they are completely “with the matter” and
experience the phenomena. For the topic „fire“ this means that the children collect wood for a
campfire and that they try to light it in different ways, even with flint and scale. It also means that they
look at the blazing flames and make use of the fire, e.g. by heating water for tea. Later on they learn to
ignite a little stick by the glow and finally, if necessary, they extinguish the fire.
In this context Buck and Kranich - in the preface of their book “Looking for an experienced
connection…” - write about “a genuine, rooted understanding in the sense of Wagenschein. So to say
an experiential saturated realization and comprehension that is carried out by oneself.” (Buck and
Kranich 1995, p. 7)
Such “experienced connections“ are overlooked easily in the bustle of everyday life and as a
consequence of our technically designed environment. They “got lost”, in the truest sense of the word,
through massive intervention of humans in the environment. But if you try to look out for “strange”
phenomena from a childlike view, you will find a lot of astonishing things in nature-oriented
environments. The apparently banal question “Why doesn’t the pond close to the FLEX leak out?”
leads, for example, to the topic “clay”. Further Questions can be developed, such as: 2Why do you
detect clay on certain places in the ground and not elsewhere? How did it arise? Why is clay well
deformable and why is burned clay different, simply not deformable and red by now?” This subject
area represents easy comprehensible natural phenomena as an example for an “experienced
connection” out of the children’s everyday life and nature.
In the mentioned sense students, during a lecture in FLEX, should themselves intensely experience
what they afterwards enable the children to find out. In this course, students themselves intensely
experience phenomena through selected and complex topics (like fire, clay, lime). Together with the
lecturer they reflect their experiences according to didactic aspects made for general studies. Own
experiences of students are especially important, as there is a bigger chance that the approach to teach
outside and at the edge of nature is taken into schools.
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Learning outdoors
In the above mentioned quote Wagenschein postulates to leave the classroom and to accomplish the
starting observation of nature at least at “the edge of nature” for general studies. With this in mind
chemical transformation processes on primary school level in FLEX should not be conducted as
isolated experiments in a laboratory, but as conversion phenomena in the environment and at the edge
of nature. Therewith it should be clarified for teacher trainees how they can strengthen the reference to
the children’s everyday life in their subsequent own lessons.
Visits of extracurricular locations to learn should therefore be arranged more often. Henning Schüler,
who highlighted the meaning of learning outdoors several times, argues as follows: “But general
studies have to open – not all along but with increasing frequency – doors and windows since they
deal with life itself. They need an outdoor urging, curious view, they need outlook and occupation,
experience and know-how, weather and seasons; only in that way they find to their things and to
appropriate teaching and learning.” (Schüler 1999, p. 137) According to Sauerborn and Brühne an
extracurricular learning location enables, in particular, original meetings and direct confrontation of
the children with learning materials, active participation as well as “the possibility of an autonomous
perception of multi-perspective educational contents” (Sauerborn & Brühne 2009, p. 22). Braund and
Rice emphasize that visits of extracurricular locations offer a welcomed variety to everyday school
from the children’s point of view. In reference to a questionnaire survey they assessed that out of 11
possibilities to learn pupils stated the item “going on a science trip or excursion” as the most pleasant
one (Braund & Reiss 2004, p. 11). The authors think that learning outside school is a key component
and postulate it to become a component of the curriculum of every school.
From all extracurricular places to learn those are of special interest that are close to nature like
meadows and forests as well as the learning location FLEX. Learning close to nature is getting even
more important regarding the changed childhood in Germany. Nowadays children experience
considerably less immediate sensual-physical experiences with and within nature because of technical,
economical and social changes. An intense preoccupation with natural phenomena hardly happens.
This lack of nature experiences leads to a growing alienation from nature. Giest and Wittkowske prove
this with several studies. They state: “The distance between nature and children […] seems to grow.
Their confessions to nature are getting more abstract, their ability to realize ecological connections
seems to decrease” (Giest and Wittkowske 2008, p. 10).
In our opinion the statements just taken already hold true for the majority of teacher trainees. The
course for teacher trainees inside FLEX is thus intended to - at least partly - compensate nature-related
experience deficits of students. Future teachers are supposed to experience and perceive nature more
consciously and intensely. Thereby they should also develop a stronger awareness of ecological
problems, with the aim that students collect experiences and develop moral concepts that they can
implement into their own pedagogic activities afterwards.
The reference to ecological questions results in a type of inner needs concerning FLEX as well as
other nature-orientated locations to learn: “The learning confrontation with nature and therefore with
scientific learning cannot take place detached from the question of human’s acquaintance with nature.
This basic concept is valid for general studies but also for scientific teaching.” (Giest und Wittkowske
2008, p. 10)
Following the concept of “Living in nature“ by Janssen (1988) and Trommer (1988) we basically track
the central theme of an original meeting with nature. This includes sensual perception and
emotionality, the condition of an inner mood, a learning environment that allows a broad space for
fantasy and creativity as given in FLEX.
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Environmental education in general studies does namely “not adapt to teaching units according to the
printed sheet. It has to find its own didactic ways.” (Schüler 1999, p. 130) The same is surely valid for
an environmental educational competence teacher trainees are supposed to acquire.
Experiencing conversion phenomena outdoors
At first sight it does not seem really obvious to associate nature-orientated learning and chemistry.
Indeed, there are hardly any basic approaches by which learning of chemistry is pursued outside a
laboratory. Nevertheless, it is not the aim of general studies to impart expert knowledge of chemistry.
The perspective frame of the society of didactics for general studies (GDSU - Gesellschaft für
Didaktik des Sachunterrichts) points out the following: “Through developing simple biological,
chemical and physical relations, natural phenomena can be interpreted and a responsible dealing with
nature can be initiated.” (GDSU 2002, p. 7-8) Children should examine material properties and
become acquainted with substance transformation. Plenty of substances and substance transformations
can be found in nature. Soil constituents as, for instance, lime and clay can be considered as nearnatural substances. Additional substances can be found as ingredients, active substances or dyestuffs
in plants, e. g. starch, lavender oil and carotenoids. Combustion processes are examples for chemical
change. Nature-orientated conversion phenomena combined with old craft techniques are suitable to
convey phenomena and experiences that are almost replaced by efficient large-scale industrial
processes these days. The basic principles of food production (such as cereal and dairy products) and
associated references to agriculture, environment and nature are not sufficiently aware to the children.
At FLEX student can sow corn, see it grow, mow, thresh and grind it, bake with the flour and smell,
touch and taste the bakery products. You can take a smell at the odorous plants; leaves and blossoms
can be harvested and their scents can be extracted and processed to perfumes and crèmes. Students can
look for tinder fungus and produce tinder themselves. There are further possibilities e.g. the cultivation
of renewable resources which are exemplarily realizable through a soap making process out of
vegetable oils such as sunflower oil and plant ashes.
Those topics provide the foundation for all sciences and finally offer all perspectives for the overall
treatment of general studies.
Two examples will be described in detail:
The example “clay“
The cluster shown in figure 2 summarizes the topic “clay“ structured according to the five main
perspectives that are described by the GDSU.
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Figure 2: Cluster concerning the topic “clay“
An example for the spatial based perspective is the examination of the formation of clay through
weathering. In this context it is also possible to discuss the various types and horizons of soil. Students
can look for clay with the help of a soil sampler. Through a finger test and an odor test they can find
suitable locations for digging clay.
With the help of this clay, its material properties can be examined. Water holding capacity, ability of
elutriation and plasticity can be examined and experienced with simple experiments. Students
recognize that humid clay can be easily processed, and that it becomes solid after drying. Changes
between wet and dry and the connected change of characteristics can be repeated as often as wanted.
Clay can be fired with a simple furnace at the FLEX. During this process, substance transformations
become obvious. The fired clay is not moldable with water anymore and changes its color during the
firing. This is an irreversible process. A new substance is generated: You talk about brick or tile.
Model houses or a small clay oven can be built out of the produced bricks. So you can look at clay
from a technical, a social and a cultural perspective. Clay is a natural building material with the
features of reusability, insulation, regulation of humidity and the bonding of noxious substances.
Furthermore it is sustainable through reusability as well as through low energy consumption when it
comes to extraction, transport and processing. Half-timbered houses and clay huts, for instance in
Africa, are well known. The historical perspective can be served with the clay oven (named “Backes”)
in the FLEX.
There are a lot of possibilities to link the topic ”clay” to previous experiences. Curiosity and the
eagerness of explorers can be aroused. The direct and active contact with clay enables students to
experience nature with all senses and to get to know the relations between the different perspectives.
The example “tinder“
In an analogous manner to the former example the possibilities of the topic „tinder” will be described
below (figure 3).
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Figure 3: Cluster concerning the topic “tinder“
Tinder fungi can be found in the forests close to FLEX. Finding and examining the real tinder fungus
can be assigned to the spatial based and scientific perspective. By sawing up the tinder fungus and
looking at the slices, the students get to know the structure of the crust, flesh (trama), layer of
mycelium and core of the fungus and uncover the trama as basic material for the production of tinder.
For producing thin leathery slices the extracted trama is further processed through soaking in boiling
water and hammering it until it is flat. Additionally it can be tested if soaking in saltpeter or potash
solution enhances the inflammation of the tinder.
By means of starting a fire with the help of tinder you can discuss the combustion triangle (with the
three prerequisites for the development of fire: oxygen, ignition temperature and fuel) as well as the
combustion process and the associated chemical reactions against the background of a scientific
perspective. If you use the fire to light the clay oven of FLEX, to prepare food or to produce light and
heat you can experience the significance of lighting fires from a historical and social-cultural
Even the historical perspective concerning the production of medical band-aids and of clothes that
were made out of tinder rags can be of interest. Under a technical perspective the development of
firelighters such as matches and lighters can be dealt with.
The subject “tinder“ covers the different perspectives of general studies. It offers excellent possibilities
to be active and to find a transition to the subject “fire”.
First experiences
So far three groups of students participated in the course at FLEX whereby they worked out topics
such as “clay as sustainable building material”, “it burns like tinder” and “from grain to bread”. They
also didactically reflected those topics with reference to their future general studies. In an open
interview concerning their evaluation of the course, the results were very positive. Only few critical
statements concerning the unfinished condition of FLEX as well as the possibilities to get there were
uttered. The students emphasized the high reference to everyday life and to nature, the product
oriented procedure and the experimentation with simple tools. It was of particular significance for
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them to immerge into the children’s mindset and to reflect the observed phenomena and experimental
results in detail. They appreciated working without time pressure, the cooperative atmosphere and the
pleasant environment in fresh air.
Therefore the learning environment FLEX creates diverse stimulating possibilities to learn that can be
used within the subject general studies in a profitable way. Thus it should become a permanent item
for teacher trainees of general studies at the University of Siegen. Students can experience conversion
phenomena and make experiences right at FLEX whereby coherences of the environment are not
ignored or just mediated verbal-communicatively. Learning does not take place about the environment
but outside within the environment and within nature. In doing so the perspective alters from mere
“mediation” of “natural”-science in the consideration of isolated phenomena in the laboratory and
from idealized theory to the experiencing and the recognition of natural science. Authentic learning
becomes possible through aspects that are linked to everyday life, nature-related and ecological.
Phenomena and relations can be perceived immediately and can be looked at with a multi-perspective
view that is based on a chemical approach of the world.
Braund, M. & Reiss, M. (2004). Nature of learning science outside the classroom. In: Braund, M. &
Reiss, M. (Hrsg.): Learning Science Outside The Classroom. New York: Routledge Falmer,
S. 1-12.
Buck, P. & Kranich, E.-P. (1995). Auf der Suche nach dem erlebbaren Zusammenhang. Weinheim and
Basel: Beltz.
Buck, P. & v. Mackensen, M. (2006). Naturphänomene erlebend verstehen. 7. ed. Köln: Aulis.
Gesellschaft für Didaktik des Sachunterrichts (GDSU) (Hrsg.) (2002): Perspektivrahmen
Sachunterricht. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.
Giest,H. & Wittkowske, S. (2008). Umgehen mit der Natur und naturbezogenes Lernen im
Sachunterricht – Lebende Natur. In: H. Giest & S. Wittkowske (Hrsg.). Naturbezogenes und
naturwissenschaftliches Lernen im Sachunterricht. Bad Heilbrunn, Braunschweig:
Klinkhardt und Westermann, S. 7-34.
Janssen, W. (1988). Naturerleben. In: Unterricht Biologie 12 (137), S. 2-7.
Klinger, U. (2008). Die Entdeckung des Phänomenalen. In: Grundschule 40 (3), S. 7-9.
Sauerborn, P. & Brühne, T. (2009). Didaktik des außerschulischen Lernens. Hohengehren: Schneider.
Schüler, H. (1999). Umwelterziehung als Draußentage. In: Baier, H.; Gärtner, H., Marquardt-Mau, B.
& Schreier, H. (Hrsg.): Umwelt, Mitwelt, Lebenswelt im Sachunterricht. Bad Heilbrunn:
Klinkhardt, S. 129-140.
Trommer, G. (1988). Draussen Naturerleben – historische Beispiele. In: Unterricht Biologie 12 (137),
S. 8-12.
Wagenschein, M. (1977). Rettet die Phänomene! (Der Vorrang des Unmittelbaren). In: Der
mathematische und naturwissenschaftliche Unterricht 30, S. 129-137.
Wagenschein, M.; Buck, P. & Köhnlein, W. (1981). Martin Wagenschein – Ein Interview zu seinem
Lebenswerk. In: chimica didactica 7, S. 161-175.
Prof. Dr. Martin Gröger studied Chemistry at the University of Siegen/Germany. He received his PhD in Didactics of
chemistry with the thesis: „Fictions in their meaning for chemical research processes and for learning chemistry“. Following
this he made a state examination as teacher. After this he was busy as teacher, than as lecturer at the German Universities
Chemnitz and Giessen. Since 2009 he is Professor for Didactics of Chemistry at the University of Siegen.
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ECO Day at Ledina Secondary School – Solar Show at Open Day
Nika Cebin
Ledina High School, Slovenia
[email protected];
Ecology seems to be one of the most frequently discussed topics of today’s society. Although we are
reluctant to admit it, ecological problems have become a part of our everyday lives. At Ledina
Secondary School we have decided to bring this topic to life at Open Day, in hope of inspiring our
students and visitors to become more ecologically aware.
The organizers’ common goal was to raise ecological awareness in the field of renewable energy
sources and efficient use of energy. Each group of experts from the organizing team realized their part
of the goal in a specific way.
The School provided many different workshops, debates, movie viewings and their evaluations,
experimental work with modern digital technology etc. The results of thE Project Day were numerous
creations, which still remind our students and the School’s visitors of the ecological obstacles we are
facing every day.
We have chosen the project method because it has proven to be the most interesting according to our
students, not only because it makes classes more pleasant and eventful, but also because it provides us
with possibilities, which regular didactic methods do not.
Throughout their work, our students developed many new skills and abilities, such as critical thinking,
the art or problem solving, collaboration skills, self-growth skills, creativity, acceptance of change
and other. The highlight of the eco day was undoubtedly the solar show.
Key words: project work, connecting between subjects, open day, solar show, creative ideas, eco-day
On Saturday, 19th December 2009, Ledina secondary school widely opened its doors to all
ecologically aware visitors. In association with their teachers and mentors, our students organized an
active eco day with numerous ecologically themed workshops. The date on which Ledina secondary
school organized its eco day was chosen especially, to echo the conference about climate changes that
was being held in Copenhagen at that particular time.
The common goal of everyone involved was to develop and spread ecological awareness in the field of
renewable energy sources and efficient use of energy. Work methods were placed entirely in the hands
of the professional working groups, which realized their parts of the common goal in different ways.
The school organized various workshops, debates, film screenings and their evaluations, experimental
work and work with contemporary technology.
The project work method was chosen, because it has proven to be more interesting to the students and
is said to variegate school lessons. Throughout their project work, students acquired and developed
many of their organizational and work skills, such as creative and critical thinking, the art of efficient
and appropriate problem solving, working as a team, group development etc.
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Overall presentation of the eco day
Based on the general common goal each professional working group chose their own unique work
method, with the help of which they would achieve their desired results. Outside coworkers were
invited to cooperate and work alongside the original teams. The connecting element between all the
activities at the school was the solar show, an amusing and informative presentational performance.
The entire amount of energy that was required for the execution of the show itself was to be acquired
with the help of the solar modules, which were attached to a solar van in the schoolyard. However, the
idea failed to be realized due to bad weather on that day. At the show, which had been prepared by the
“Zero carbon agents”, the meaning of alternative energy sources was presented with an additional
accentuation on solar energy. The agents put together a fun and interactive quiz for the audience of the
show, based on efficient energy use. Later on they also plainly explained how solar modules work and
collect energy from sunrays. The informational portion of the show was dividedly variegated by the
musical numbers of the school’s choir, a performance by a famous Slovenian singer Tanja Žagar and a
few of the school’s music bands.
The festively educational December Saturday began at 9.00 am with the solar show, which was carried
out by the school’s students within the sphere of the “Zero carbon agents” project.
After the solar show all of the participating students were placed in their appointed workshops, which
were open to outside school visitors until 12.00 am. Each student attended at least one workshop, in
which he or she was actively participating in the creative work.
Presentation of all the eco day workshops
The “Zero carbon agents” introduce themselves at the
show, students compete in a quiz, the topic of which is
efficient use of energy and renewable energy sources, a All teachers, E-forum
performance by the school’s choir, mr. Dintinjana
explains the way solar modules work.
Pupils work together in teams, competing in a quiz, the
topics of which are literature, history, geography and
English language
Pupils explain the process of the international exchange
programme with Spanish peers, the topic of the
programme being natural parks in Slovenia and Asturia,
a Spanish province.
English language
Chemical experiments are being done in the school’s
chemistry department’s laboratory, the topic of which is Chemistry teachers
“Greenhouse gases.”
Pupils present their ecology themed project work, with
which they have participated in various competitions.
Chemistry teachers
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Animation is used to show and explain the process of
carbon circulation in nature. Throught the explanation
of the circulation of carbon in nature, the process and
aspects of recycling are explained and compared to it.
The carbon in our atmosphere (in the form of CO2) is
being used in the process of photosynthesis , where
carbon is being used in processes of synthesis of
organic molecules (eg. food). Animals feed on plant
life, which separate the carbon from the food with the
process of cellular respiration and release it back into
the air with general respiration – breathing, in the form
of CO2. Students fill out their worksheets and
participate in a quiz, the theme of which is carbon
circulation in nature.
Pupils work independently to create plans with which
energy could be economically preserved, which they try
out at home. A few of the most uniquely creative ideas
are chosen and then publicly presented in front of the
Geography teachers
SAVING ENERGY entire student body. With the promotion of these
innovative energy saving solutions the students are able
to raise economic ecology awareness and encourage the
public to apply rational energy use to their homes as
Animals on the brink of extinction (posters,
The game called memory, with the topic of
Shooting ecological baskets (basketball a little
Creating posters and presenting the ecological
Pupils are divided into two groups, the first of which is
given the task of making cards with inscriptions of
different groceries, devices, newspapers, chemical
products, cans and other packing. The second group is
given the task of making cards for dumpsters for their
environmentally friendly recycling process and also
sorting “trash.”
Pupils are given visual and textual material as a
headword and are given the task of creating
ecologically themed poetry, songs or short stories. They
write, type and print their work and if there is sufficient
time left their creations are exhibited and posted on the
school’s notice boards.
Romanic languages
German language
English language
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Screening environmentally themed movies and creative
activities based on them:
1. Poster
Psychology and
2. Debate
Slovenian language
3. Fliers
4. Creative writing
5. Slogans
The Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia
provides the school with information about average
temperatures in certain measuring spots in the country. ARSO, mathematics
Pupils test out this information and check if the
temperatures have really been rising in the last 50 years
and then use graphs to present their findings.
A presentation of the RETSCREEN programme and
conducting different calculations about renewable
energy sources. A great deal of these calculations are
targeted to test out if and how the purchase and usage
of solar modules is efficient and sensible.
Conducting physical experiments, relating to
Creating a timeline in the shape of a spiral with a
chronological presentation of energy source uses
throughout the ages: burning wood, water, wind, solar
energy, oil, coal.
A screening of an ecologically themed movie and a
round table discussion and debate with the topic of
media constructions about global climate changes.
Mathematics and
informatics teachers
Physics teachers
History teachers
Sociology teachers
A presentation about man’s influence on climate
changes and an individual’s options on how to limit
SOLAR ENERGY A presentation of solar modules and how they work.
PRESENTATION A presentation about honey and the history of
OF BEEKEEPING beekeeping in Slovenia.
Creating posters with ECO-slogans in the Microsoft
Office Publisher computer programme.
Beekeeping Atelšek
Art teachers
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Ledina solar show
Overview of project »Zero carbon agents«
The project was organized by E-forum. Energy and climate programmes and especially PR
activities together with principles of good team working skills are not incorporated into the
formal educational curriculum. The transition to low carbon society requires responsible and
educated persons who are trained from their early ages.
Within the project »Zero carbon agents« (organized by E-forum) 6 pupils coming from
Gimnazija Ledina (all together there were 30 youngsters from six Slovenian secondary
schools) were taught in July 2009 (they accommodated in CŠOD Radenci near the Kolpa
River ) how to calculate their own CO2 footprint and how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
by using renewable technologies and by decreasing energy consumption (energy efficiency
measures). Three experts visited them: a) an expert coming from designing and marketing
agency teaching them about effective communication strategies, b) director of civil
engineering centre teaching them in practice how to construct a solar collector and c)
electrical engineer presenting them his own electric car.
According to their preferences the pupils were divided into three groups: two Technicians
interested in natural sciences and technique responsible for PV application, two
Communicators interested in PR activities and coordination skills, and two Designers
interested in Arts and/or software skills (Microsoft Office Package – Publisher), responsible
for designing invitations, brochures and posters.
In the beginning of the school year, the “Zero carbon agents” succeeded in inspiring their
schoolmates, teachers and the head of the school to participate in raising ecological awareness
amongst the public, using their acquired knowledge of responsible use of energy.
On 19th of December 2009 newly trained youngsters prepared their own solar show in the
schoolyard and in the school gym. The agenda of solar shows mainly included practical
presentations of solar techniques, music band playing on PV system, theatre performances
and other amusing activities. Among the audience there were children from kindergarten,
parents, school colleagues, principals, journalists, representatives from other schools
(headmaster of Ledina Primary School), local authorities (ARSO – Tanja Cegnar,) and
businesses (director of BISOL).
The Solar Show at Ledina Secondary School not only provided a fun and innovative way for
students and visitors to learn important facts about ecology and our environment, but also
allowed them to show their previously acquired knowledge on the topic by competing in the
Solar Quiz. The feedback the organizers received in response to the show was excellent,
visitors and students were reportedly most impressed with the school’s bands’ music
performance, the cube demonstration of the use of our World’s energy from various sources
and the performance of a famous Slovenian singer – Tanja Žagar and the creative quiz
questions through which everyone learned something new.
The solar show organized within the project attracted huge attention. It was covered by the
media (local and national newspapers, interviews on the radio, web pages). Several people
from the audience asked for further information and got the contacts of renewable companies.
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Youngsters responsible for the organization were pleased and together with their classmates
asked about possibilities of the participation in future projects.
We made an appointment with the solar system factory (BISOL), whose manager agreed to
participate in the Show with a presentation of solar modules and solar energy.
Project evaluation
The pupils devotedly and self-sufficiently participated in the workshop activities. Numerous
creative crafts were produced in the workshops during the cold December forenoon. One
could find creations such as: eco-slogan posters, timelines and graphic displays of temperature
changes throughout history, ecologically themed poetry in the English language, fliers and
slogans. Pupils also made some delicious ice cream with the help of liquid nitrogen (an
environmentally friendly gas), with which they made the visitors’ stay at our school a little bit
The Eco Open Day at Ledina secondary school was carried out as an educational project
workpiece, which exceeding classical lesson plans because of its ability to connect various
professional areas and subjects, which enables a more wholesome understanding of the
subject and acquirement of knowledge. The work was targeted to be in useful in everyday life
situations and to give pupils and visitors a unique learning experience, where the students
became the main executants of the activities, so that their interests were recognize, realized
and their teamwork strengthened.
The theme of the work itself was handled problematically and interdisciplinary. Classic
learning methods and lesson plans do not enable such wide-spread project work to exist in an
everyday learning process.
This eco day also helped improve the interdisciplinary skills of the school’s teaching staff,
which ameliorated the teachers’ abilities to work together as a team, create connections
between their teaching subjects, which contributed to the professional development and
growth of each teacher individually.
The project »Zero Carbon Agents« on a Public Mission does not fall into a strict category of
the energy saving or renewable energy sources’ measures with measurable results. It falls into
a category of Information Campaign activities, where raising awareness by a good educational
programme and by developing effective coordination and marketing skills is the essence of
the project.
Respecting the Kyoto Protocol regarding carbon dioxide emissions and Energy Climate
Package adopted in March 2007 means reducing energy consumption by 20 percents till 2020
and reaching 25 percent share of renewable energy sources in the energy balance. By exerting
influence on people’s energy and climate attitudes as a core essence of the project, raised
awareness of people in general and of pupils in particular, the project might contribute to the
reorientation of consumer’s patterns into sustainable solutions.
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Nika Cebin is a secondary school chemistry professor at Ledina secondary school. She has been teaching chemistry for ten
years. She finished her post-graduate study at Biotecnical Universtity at Food department with the title of work: The
Nutrition and nutritional education of students in last year of grammar school in Slovenia (December, 2006)
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Sound Producing Objects and Musical Instruments – Music Lessons are
also Part of the School in Nature
Nives Skuk
Primary School dr. Bogomir Magajne Divača
[email protected]
When I plan the activities of the school in nature in the first triad I pay particular attention to the fact
that they are very carefully planned. Besides sports activities they include also the kind of activities
that make children oriented towards nature and make them feel in touch with it. I teach them what
nature offers to us, how do we know our way around in nature, how can we play and create something
with its fruits and the way we develop respect for it. When I worked with the pupils I wanted to
sharpen up their sense and ear for nature, their imagination, creativity, I supported them when they
observed and did some research on sounds coming from nature. The activities within the framework of
the entire project Our musical instruments and sound producing objects took place in nature, at the
time of our school in nature week, during lessons at school and at workshops with parents. When we
attended our school in nature we spent plenty of time in the nearby meadow and in the forest. We
listened to sounds from nature, tried to imitate them, we spontaneously whistled on grass, leaves,
acorn caps, we made wooden flutes, picked different small stones, small sticks and other natural
We played with them, described them, said something about them and found out that we can produce
different sounds out of them. We struck them together, rubbed them against one another and
performed interesting accompaniments of already known songs. In the evenings we made music nights
with singing, dancing and playing on instruments. At the end of our school in nature our collection of
sound producing objects and musical instruments made from natural materials was rich and varied.
As our pupils were enthusiastic about all the activities, the project Our musical instruments and sound
producing objects was extended and we continued with it after we came back from the school in
nature week.
Music is part of every child's autochthonous life, part of his games, expression, experience and
cognition. Every single year of life opens specific possibilities in music development that should not
be overlooked or postponed to later time. Music plays an invaluable role in children's education as it
contributes to the realization of a wide range of education and instruction goals. Music experience
stimulates the research of different and new ideas, it improves children's expression of feelings and
sharpen up their consciousness and observation of other people's feelings. When the child listens,
performs or creates music he grows intellectually as music leads him towards thinking and solving
problems. By singing and listening to music the child acquires new vocabulary that accelerates the use
of language and helps him at learning vocabulary and sound patterns. Music experience is important
for children's physical development. By singing, playing musical instruments and rhytmic movement
the child acquires and increases the control of his body and thus does some research on the
environment. In the end, with music, the child develops the notion about himself as through organized
sound environment he gets to know himself and as a personality he grows into a cultural reality that
surrounds him.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Activities within the framework of the themes of Our musical instruments and sound producing
objects can be divided into four phases:
1. Fieldwork (in the forest and in the meadow) in school in nature
Before we left for our fieldwork I talked to the pupils about rules they must observe outside and the
way they must behave in the forest and explained to them the instructions for their work. When we got
into the forest each pupil searched for his place for listening to the sounds in nature and tried to answer
the three written questions:
1. Do you need a lot of time to hear three different sounds?
2. Can you figure out where do the sounds originate from and name them?
3. Can you describe whatever natural sound with your own words?
We gathered into a group and analysed the answers, exchanged our experience and opinions. We
picked different species of grass, leaves, acorn caps and spontaneously tried to whistle on grass, acorn
caps and leaves. Some pupils had learned this previously at home, others tried very hard to learn and
succeed. When we went for a walk in the forest we searched for different small stones, small sticks,
cones and other natural materials. We played with them, described them, talked about them and found
out that we can entice different sounds from them. We struck them together, rubbed them one towards
another and performed interesting accompaniments of already known songs. On our way home we
visited a nearby farm where we took a look how the farmer provided for different crops. He gave us
some pumpkins, corn cobs, nuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts as a present.
2. Workshop on making musical instruments and sound producing objects from natural
We prepared an exhibition of autumn crops and other natural materials that we brought from our
instructive walk. We carefully looked at them and admired forest and autumn fruits, different sticks,
leaves, and grass, then we described, classified, compared them and at the same time we figured out
how could we use them as musical instruments. With the help of different books and our imagination
we created a beautiful collection of rhytmic instruments. Let us present the most interesting ones:
a) Small sticks
They are a pair instrument, made of two identical sticks that are approximately 18 cm long with a
diameter from 1.5 to 2 cm. We get a sound if we struck the right stick on the left one. Improvised
sticks can be of different width and length. We made them from dried and peeled willow sticks.
b) Nut shells
They are an indispensable and a very rhytmic instrument in terms of sound. They are listed among
those instruments that can be used by the whole group of children. The instrument can have three
1. A pair of big nut shells (empty halves)
2. A pair of hollow nuts (we glue the nut shells again)
3. If we make two holes in a small shell and we strain an elastic through them, we can put the
shell on a finger (one on the thumb, the other on the index or middle finger)
4. We made all the three shapes of the instrument from nutshells
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
c) Corn cobs
If we strike with dried corn cob on another cob, we get a unique sound that is very quiet and pleasing.
We get a different sound effect if we slide with one corn cob on the other. We used fir cones instead of
corn cobs as well.
d) Stones
A pair of flat stones – not too big and not too heavy can be a rhytmic musical instrument of a pleasant
sound. If we put one of both stones in a slightly concave left hand and we strike in the middle of the
first stone using the other one, we get a slightly low, nice, full sound. But if we hold the stones in a
way where each stone is placed on its own end and we strike on the simple end of the left stone with
the stone that we hold in the right hand, we get a somewhat emptier, slightly higher and short sound.
We coloured and painted the stones with different motifs as well.
e) Rattle
We make a distinction between rattles with a handle and rattles without a handle. If we take a look at
their shape, they can be round, oval, tubular, cubic, etc. The casing can be made of wood, glass, metal,
plastic, cardboard, from different crops with some wooden parts (ornamental pumpkins, coconuts,
ordinary nuts). We fill the rattles with different materials: sand, grits, poppy seeds, rye, wheat, peas,
corn, beans, cherry, apple pips, small stones and other things. Rattles sound better if they are not
completely filled up. The rattle is shaken, but the shaking should not be convulsive. We made a rattle
from a dried ornamental pumpkin. As its epidermis was dry and hard, we cut out the patterns and
coloured it.
f) A string from crops
We can arrange nut shells or emptied – glued nuts on a different framework. Besides nuts we can
arrange hazelnuts, almonds, etc. We get a sound by shaking the strings or by tapping on them with
right hand fingers.
We arranged nut shells on an iron framework.
Picture 1: A string made of nut shells
g) Drums
We made it from dried edible pumpkins and a leather membrane.
3. Workshop with pupils' parents
Children were so enthusiastic about the collection of musical instruments and sound producing objects
that were made in school in nature that they wanted to complete and extend it. We invited the pupils'
parents to join us. The workshop took place in the afternoon in the craft classroom and in the school
workshop. With the help of their parents the pupils made interesting musical instruments. Our class
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
collection of musical instruments and sound producing objects became considerably bigger and
became an additional aid at every music lesson.
Picture 2: Musical instruments made of wood
4. Making musical instruments and sound producing objects from waste material
At our school we are aware of the fact that the pollution of the environment is a serious issue. This is
why we have sub-divided our rubbish with consciousness and responsibility for a couple of years now.
The pupils found out very quickly that we could make musical instruments from waste material as
well. We started collecting plastic bottles, plastic glasses, cans, paper cylinders, cardboard boxes,
metal and cork stoppers... With the help of scissors, glue, paper and coloured pencils we made
interesting musical instruments (drums, rattles, trumpets, guitars...)
At the end of our project we prepared a show with a rich exhibition of the instruments we had made.
Pupils performed a medley of folk songs. Their parents accompanied them with our musical
instruments made of natural and waste material. The performances took place in smaller groups, each
pupil had his own instrument and was responsible for his part of the song performed.
Picture 3,4,5: Instruments from waste material
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Pupils were very motivated for work. The working atmosphere was amazing. The pupils were thinking
all the time what could they use to make new musical instruments. They were active all the time, they
moved a lot in nature, did some research, observed things and were very creative. They learnt what
sorts of different things the nature offers to us and how important it is to stay in touch with it. They got
to know new sounds and how are they created, they improved their vocabulary, but mostly they sang a
lot, played on instruments, invented and created new rhymes and songs and danced as well. If we
implement this kind of work, we develop the children's musical capabilities and educate them to learn
to sing with joy. We also educate them towards learning music in general. They learn how to perform
in front of a group of people and accept responsibility for every single individual's contribution at the
success of the entire group.
Voglar, M. (1973). Otrok in glasba. Ljubljana, Državna založba Slovenije.
Pesek, A. (1997). Otroci v svetu glasbe. Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.
Oblak, B. (2003). Glasbena slikanica (priročnik za učitelje). Ljubljana, Državna založba Slovenije.
Drew, H. (1995). Moja prva velika knjiga o glasbilih. Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.
Sicherl-Kafol, B. (2001). Celostna glasbena vzgoja. Ljubljana, Debora.
Nives Skuk is a primary school teacher. She teaches children from first three grades of school. She’s also a headmaster
assistant and a cooperative member of a didactic development project at The National Education Institute of The Republic of
Slovenia. She’s also a leader of swimming nature in school.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Sound Sources - How to Create a Diverse World of Sounds
Martina Petelinek, Ana Rudnik Pavlica
(Photos: Zoran Petelinek)
Primary School Griže
[email protected], [email protected]
The world we live in is full of sounds. In nature we are accompanied by bird singing, animal
sounds, movement of branches, rustle of leaves, bubbling of water, thundering, bumping of the sea
against the coast, falling of fruit on the ground …
Sound sources
We can also create the sounds with the objects that we use often in everyday life. Here are some
1. We fill the bottles with water to different heights and play on them with a nail.
Figure1: Bottles filled with a different
amount of water create different sounds.
2. We fill the stemmed glasses with water to different heights and scratch with a wetted finger on
their edge, so they can sing.
Figure 2: Every glass creates its sound. To
make the glasses more attractive the
content of the glass can be coloured with
fruit juice, pen ink …
3. On the nails of different sizes, hanging on the rope, we beat with another nail.
Figure 3: Playing on the nails.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
4. To the shoe box we string some ropes of different thicknesses and pluck on them.
Figure 4: Playing on the ropes, stretched
in the shoe box.
5. We blow the balloon and then slowly stretch the neck of the balloon and let the air come out.
The sound is changing, depending on the openness of the mouth. The blown balloon that is let into
the air also creates interesting sounds.
Figure 5: The sound is created, when the
air is let out of the blown balloon.
6. The sound source can be made from the paper sheath, nails and fine grains (rice, meal, pea …).
We insert the nails into the sheath. The length of the nails should be a little smaller than its
diameter. Then we throw some grain into the sheath and close both sides of the sheath. If the tube is
long, the noise lasts longer.
Figure 6: The nails are inserted
into the wall of the carton sheath.
When shaking the grain in the
sheath, the grain hits their ends.
7. From the waste material (plastic bottles, glasses, sheaths from the paper towels …, we can make
different sound sources, known as rattles.
Figure 7: Different sound sources made
of the waste material.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
8. The sounds can be created if we rotate the tube above our head. We have to be careful, that we
don't disable the flow of the air on the tube. We can play with the tubes of different diameters,
material and lengths. We will obtain a diverse range of sounds.
Figure 8: When rotating the tube.
9. Also other objects, for example a badminton racket can create its range of sounds. The sounds
are different, depending on the direction of the racket upwards - downwards, left – right or
Figure 9: When moving the racket the sound
is created.
10. We can also play on the comb. It is recommended that the comb has the teeth of different size
and thickness, because the sounds created in that way will be more variegate.
Figure 10: Playing on the teeth of the
11. We can make different simple instruments. One of them is the clay bas. To make the clay bas
we need a container with the bottom, a balloon and a hollow stick. We rub on the stick with the
wetted fingers.
Figure 11: Clay bas.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
12. We connect sheaths of different sizes, straws or bamboo sticks, cut on different sizes and get
the pan pipe.
Figure 12: Playing on pan pipes.
13. The concert atmosphere can be created in the kitchen with the utensils.
Figure 13: Playing with the cuttlery,
kitchen dishes and other kitchen utensils.
The world of sounds is diverse. Let us relax by the play of sounds and creativity.
Chavigny I. 2007. Poskusi z zvoki. Ljubljana, Tehniška založba Slovenije, 29 s.
Čepič, M. 2003. Modul 5: Zvok – didaktična obravnava. Interno gradivo za izvedbo
doizobraževanja iz fizikalnega dela naravoslovja, Ljubljana, Pedagoška fakulteta, 28 s.
Kolman, A., Mati Djuraki, D., Pintar, D., Furlan, I., Klanjšek Gunde, M., Jerman R., Ocepek, R.
2006. Naravoslovje 7. Učbenik, prenovljena izdaja. Ljubljana, Rokus, s. 48 – 52
Kolman, A., Mati Djuraki, D., Pintar, D., Furlan, I., Klanjšek Gunde, M., Jerman R., Ocepek, R.
2006. Naravoslovje 7. Delovni zvezek, prenovljena izdaja. Ljubljana, Rokus, s. 41 – 47
Kolman, A., Mati Djuraki, D., Pintar, D., Furlan, I., Klanjšek Gunde, M., Jerman R., Ocepek, R.
2003. Naravoslovje 7. Priročnik za učitelje. Ljubljana, Rokus, s. 63 – 66
Kranjc, T. 2006. Teoretične osnove za poučevanja naravoslovja za 6. in 7. razred devetletke. Modul
5: Zvok. Ljubljana, Pedagoška fakulteta, 23 s.
Pesek, A. 2009. Glasba 5. Delovni zvezek za glasbo v petem razredu osnovne šole. Ljubljana,
Mladinska knjiga, s. 46 – 47
Marija Petelinek is primary teacher of biology, chemistry, nature science and housekeeping. She carries out nature
workshops during Unesco nature camps.
Ana Rudnik Pavlica is primary teacher of mathematic and technics. She’s a leader of nature workshop on Unecso nature
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Adventure Learning Schools – A New Design for Schooling
David Exeter
Macmillan Academy, United Kingdom
[email protected]
In wildness is the preservation of the world – Henry David Thoreau
David describes the five year journey of Macmillan Academy, an inner city mixed comprehensive, in
creating a unique model of urban and rural adventure and outdoor learning that has integrated the
curriculum of the school.
Macmillan Academy is the only school in the UK to hold a formal specialism in outdoor learning, with
dedicated resources, staffing and world class facilities.
Macmillan Academy are proud to be working with a new UK charity called Adventure Learning
Schools. David will provide an overview of this exciting work in Cumbria and beyond.
The Vision
Imagine a school where the learning culture is so rich that students not only achieve high academic
standards, but through the emphasis on adventure increase their competence as learners, develop their
personality and create increasingly effective learning environments for themselves as they move
towards becoming citizens of our global world.
Our vision is to create a network of schools where learning is not just enjoyable, but leads to genuine
accomplishments, and appreciation of oneself, others and society, and where the skills, knowledge and
dispositions acquired enable the student to become an active and creative citizen. These are schools
where the great traditions of education often previously the privilege of a few, are now open to all.
To this end we have established a new charity – Adventure Learning Schools – to take the idea
forward. These are schools where:
• The highest standards are achieved, especially in Literacy and Numeracy, and every student is
enabled to achieve their potential.
• Learning occurs not just within classrooms but also in the external environment both wilderness and
urban and is consistently infused by a spirit of adventure and inquiry.
• The culture is not only comprehensive and inclusive, but also leads to the acquisition of a range of
learning skills and aptitudes, genuine accomplishment and an appreciation of oneself and others within
a global context.
The Whole School Design
In order to be recognised as an Adventure Learning School a school will need to adopt a ‘whole school
design’ based on active learning principles. The framework is designed to be specific and replicable in
so far as it contains the best of current knowledge of what makes for an effective school but then
infuses it with a ‘wilderness’ approach to learning and experience that embraces both urban and
adventurous outdoor settings.
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Core elements of the design of an Adventure Learning School
The Basic Adventure Curriculum
At the heart of these schools will be a curriculum design that actively deepens subject expertise for all
young people through engagement in learning both inside and outside the classroom. There are seven
critical curriculum dimensions that need to be in
place for a school to be recognised as an Adventure Learning School:
• The first is that all students will as part of their curricular entitlement have exposure to the wilderness
as an environment(both urban and rural), in which learning takes place, and which, through adventure
and expeditionary challenges, enable them to develop key skills and qualities. This would involve
access to programmes such as Duke of Edinburgh Award and the John Muir Award.
• The second is that students entering Year 7 will have a flying start to their secondary school
education through participating in a transitional adventure learning programme in Year 6 of their
Primary School.
• Third, the school will adopt a ‘crew’ or vertical tutor group arrangement to ensure that every student
is part of a nurturing social group and have the opportunity to learn from, support and lead others.
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• The fourth is that the KS3 curriculum framework will have a predominantly enquiry approach. This
will involve the use of learning expeditions which are extended lesson blocks to facilitate cross
curricular project based work; and intensives, that are opportunities for deep inquiry, catch up or
extended study by blocking out days and sometimes weeks every half term.
• The fifth is a discrete and unrelenting focus on Literacy and Numeracy to ensure that all students are
in at least the top quartile of their distribution at the end of KS3. This will involve intensives, one to
one tutoring and catch-up programmes as appropriate.
• Sixth, this will result in a coherent KS3 experience that utilises the elements above together with a
range of additional learning entitlements such as acquiring a range of learning skills through direct
curriculum experience, assessment for learning and the expanded repertoire of teaching strategies
utilised by staff. This ensures that the student completes KS3 with a broad range of skills knowledge
and experiences that equips them for the transition into adulthood.
• Seventh, students in KS4 will have access to a range of 14-19 pathways that have a strong
connection with the outdoors as well as programmes that have a strong inquiry learning focus.
The Invitation
We want the opportunity of becoming such a school to be open to as many schools as possible. To
begin with though we are building the network on a smaller scale to ensure the rigour and quality of
the education provided is maintained in the early years of the programme.
We are interested in working with both existing schools and Academies and Trusts that have a clear
educational vision. We are already working with schools in Cumbria and Stoke to develop the model
so that their students are able to enjoy the new curriculum in September 2010.
We invite you to join the Adventure Learning Schools network!
David Exeter is currently a Senior Leader and Director of Outdoor Learning at Macmillan Academy in Middlesbrough (2005
onwards). David is an experienced senior educational professional who has led the design of the outdoor learning specialism
at Macmillan Academy. Previously he was a Senior Training Consultant for The Outward Bound Trust (1997-2005).
David has a solid reputation for designing powerful learning opportunities for young people. David is known for his high
standards and detailed knowledge of outdoor education, adventure and learning.
The outdoor learning journey has been presented by David at national conferences.
Recently David has been actively involved with ‘Adventure Learning Schools’ consulting as a school designer with Professor
David Hopkins.
David holds a Master Degree from Sheffield University, and his first book, ‘Learning in the Outdoors’, was published by
Outward Bound.
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
“A taste of the scientific approach to the urban ecosystem analysis”
M.Sc. Darja Silan,
Jože Plečnik High School Ljubljana, Slovenia
[email protected]
Our school is in the heart of the capital. In biology, experiential learning is very important.
Some of which has been performed in the vicinity of the school. We studied the structure of
urban soil, the impact of pollution on it and set up a weather observatory on the terrace of the
school and learn about the artificial aquatic ecosystem-pond on the outskirts.
We used the basic methods of field work and instruments available in our school and we
borrowed some from the professional institutions. We tried to steer students in the
interdisciplinary integration of knowledge (biology, physics, chemistry, geography ...). In the
class, we present the students with the potential for their own independent work (literature
review, finding equipment, learn some basic measurement and analysis methods, the use of
ICT ...). The final picture was created by interpreting the results, which actually allowed the
students to understand the importance and interconnectedness of soil, air and water pollution
and the impact of various factors.
Participated students made considerable progress in teamwork, personal responsibility; they
learned many exciting new methods with which they can evaluate the impacts on the
environment, critical evaluations of results and present them to the community.
In biology, experimental learning is a very important part of education. Students have to learn some
basic research steps to understand how ecosystems live and how everything is a part of the circle of
life. The basic biological questions are: How? Where? and Why?
How can we encourage students to engage in active learning to understand and answer these questions
by themselves?
We took all the available school equipment to make the first steps toward scientific methods in natural
sciences. The methods and equipment could be very simple ones. The most important thing is to teach
students to start thinking in a scientific way and make them curious about nature.
We have to teach them how to define the problem, make careful observations, data collection, simple
analysis and find some answers.
It is a process in which they must use their previous knowledge from different subjects, communicate
in a group, make measurements precisely, evaluate results and present them to the others. They will
use such skills in all levels and subjects of education.
I wish to present our work mainly as an example of methodology while including some useful
comments. The measurements and results are accessible at our school library.
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Study questions: Discovery of the urban ecosystem (Soil, Atmosphere, Water)
Each ecosystem follows the common principles of energy conversion. It is very interesting to study
ecology outside of the city, but sometimes we have no time or money to travel such a distance. This is
the reason this time we chose the urban ecosystem as a model of a natural one. To reach our goals, we
started with very simple methods to help us understand how non-living factors influence the biotic
components of their ecosystem and vice versa.
Organisation of our research:
For the field work, we organised a group of students aged 16-18 from different classes. All of them
took part in the project on voluntary basis.
We sampled the soil from the parks after regular lessons and other lab analyses during the breaks.
For the atmosphere observation, the team installed a weather station on the school roof’s terrace and
some professional institutions supplied the necessary measurement instruments.
A group of students took regular daily measurement readings under the supervision of the tutors. The
readings were taken during the main break, except on Saturdays and Sundays, for more than two
For the water research we took a public transport to the city suburbs where we made some research
on a pond. There we spent four afternoons with a group of students and some additional time in the
school lab.
As in every city, Ljubljana is facing different types of pollution. We decided to do a short research
project on the urban soil in the city parks next to our school, which is situated in the very centre.
Our field work took place in three different locations near the school and one in the Tivoli Park, which
is 500m away from the school, outside of the city centre. We determined the position of each park
using the GPS system.
The locations were chosen on the basis of the soil’s origin and composition, for example, natural or
anthropogenic. In addition the soil in different locations was exposed to the influence of different
types and degrees of pollution, for example road traffic, pedestrian traffic, pets etc...
We were interested in the influence of the living of both, living and non-living components (5).
Our samplings were done in autumn and early spring of 2007. We chose days without precipitation to
get better results. Lab analyses were carried out in the chemistry lab.
Our results were then compared to the official ones of the EU-URBSOIL project (2., 9).
The students presented the results at different school events to other students, teachers and parents. In
addition, they gave a presentation to the representatives of the local government.
The presentation included a printed report and its publication on the school web site.
The basic pedological equipment used in the project included:
-a spade was used for collecting surface soil and, when necessary, for digging into deeper layers of
soil for sample extraction.
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-a pedologic drill was used mainly in the fields. It helped us to collect soil samples without causing
any lasting damage to the ground.
- digital and analogue thermometers were used to measure the soil temperature at 5cm and 20 cm
below the surface
-the MERCK Agroquant 14602 Set is a simple mobile lab designed for on-the-spot measurement of
certain chemical properties of the soil. It was used for the measurement of pH; NH3-N; NO3-N, NO2N, in all the locations.
-CBL-Vernier probes were used to measure temperature and conduction.
-HCl was used to determine the percentage of CaCO3 in the soil.
-a lab dryer was used to determine the humidity of soil samples
-instructions for soil texture and structure (7)
Our basic soil research showed that the physical parameters, texture and structure of the soil are
influenced mostly by:
¾ the kind of parent material that soil developed on
¾ the origin of the soil brought to the location
The chemical parameters mostly seem to depend on:
the time of sampling
the quantity of precipitation and sunshine during the time before sampling
the location of a particular park and the sampling location in it
the distance from traffic and its density
the kind of activities being carried out in a particular park (nitric compounds)
weather conditions, location and traffic (pH).
We also didn’t find the essential difference in the pollution determined by the presence of nitric
compounds in the soil in the city centre (which was brought by people to create parks) and in Tivoli
(which has been there for centuries).
There is, however a difference between the two soils in those parameters that determine the formation
and origin of the soil (texture and structure).
We were faced with some difficulties concerning the physical parameters of soil texture and soil
structure. Experience is needed when using these methods of soil sampling and we did it for the first
The comparison with official data (URBSOIL) was done to evaluate our results and to show how
precise our measurements were. There were no significant differences and this was proof of accurate
research work.
Ljubljana is a city with frequent autumn and winter temperature inversion. In the past, severe air
pollution occurred. We wanted to check this problem at our school.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
For the observation of the atmosphere, we built up a weather station on the school terrace. First we had
to discover where, how and why the weather comes from and decide for main parameters we can
We were also very interested about PM 10 as they are a part of the pollution. These particles cause
damage and soiling to materials, and it’s a major cause of visibility impairment. The same fine
particles are linked to serious health problems also affects our ability to see by scattering and/or
absorbing light.
The atmosphere monitoring requires good organisation and defined the individual part of work. We
used many different instruments.
We divided students into groups in order for them to be more familiar with each instrument. There was
always one of each group to make a measurement. One group also collected the official data from the
home page of the ARSO (Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia) (6).
The interpretation of the results was done by students and teachers-tutors. There was a lot of data to
At the end of the project students made a graphical presentation of the results of all parameters that
had been measured to their colleges, teachers and parents.
In terms of physics we measured different air quantities:
air temperature
relative air humidity
air pressure
the weather and types of clouds
wind velocity
illumination (in lux- photometric units)
PM 10
We measured concentrations of the following gases:
Oxygen- O2
Carbon dioxide- CO2
Nitrogen dioxide- NO2
Sulphur dioxide- SO2
Carbon monoxide- CO
Methane- CH4
Measuring instruments for physical parameters:
We collected all possible instruments we had in school in the physics, biology, chemistry, geography
Analogue thermometers and instrument for drawing air temperature on a chart
Analogue hygrometer and instrument for drawing relative humidity on a chart;
Vernier`s CBL (Calculator- based Laboratory System for light intensity measuring)
Analogue barometer
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A clouds type chart
Measuring instruments for gases
TI-92 and CBL with VERNIER CO2 sensor
ACCURO pump and DRÄGER tubes for gases ( NO2 and SO2)
We have used the instruments for gas measurements for the first time. We have only used CBL and TI
92 before.
The students have studied the instruments and the handling of the instruments and measurements. One
group has had to follow and make a note of every day's official measurements of ARSO on their
official web page.
We borrowed the Dräger Multiwarn II at the Centre for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief at
Ministry of Interior of Republic Slovenia in Ljubljana. This instrument is used for the measurement of
life treating levels of poisoned gas concentration.
Measuring instruments for PM 10
We acquired the instrument for measuring PM 10 from the Ecological mobile unit of the Josef Stefan
Institute in Ljubljana and the standard SiO2 filter with 10 micrometer pore shapes from the Department
of Meteorology of ARSO. They helped us get familiar with the state directive of the air quality.
We have measured the PM 10 by using the Accuro air sucking pump. The flow of air was measured at
2m3/h. This is the standard value of gas flow for PM 10. The pump has a standard SiO2 filter with 10
micrometer pore shapes.
The sampling time for the pump was 24 hours, so the sum of pumped air was nearly 48m3 per day.
The maximum allowed concentrations of PM10 which the air contains can be 50 g/m3. We compared
our measurements with ARSO, which publicizes the average daily and annual concentrations on their
During the project, the students found out how difficult it is to get the exact data of a selected
parameter because in the environment, different factors interfere and influence each other.
The students have upgraded the special skills necessary to get the right sources of information, the
help of the experts handling the instruments and refined our measurement methodology.
There were of course some unexpected problems as, for example, with the probes for the detection of
NO2. We had not been told about the sensitivity interval of the probes. So we were left with some
extra expenses to buy some new probes.
During the project we also had the opportunity to improve our data interpretation skills and refine our
measurement methodology with the help of expert in the institutions. At the end of measuring we were
surprised by the good air quality in late autumn.
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The pond of Koseze is situated in the western part of Ljubljana. It was created on a flooded abandoned
clay site (3).
This man-made ecosystem provides now an interesting water habitat for many species of plants,
animals as well as other organisms. It is also valuable to its visitors as an oasis of peace in the highly
urbanized area of Ljubljana.
It is easily accessible by public transport services and not so far from our school.
Students of two second year classes were involved in this research.
After researching soil and atmosphere we focused on the ecology of a pond.
The late autumn was not the best time to work in this place, but sometimes it is good also to see the
final stage of vegetation and the season.
Our task was to learn basic water ecology methods, with a physical and chemical analysis as well as
biological ones (13).
We took samples from a spot close to the water and two to three meters away. Students made the
sketch showing the places of sampling.They found and were able to define different plants and
animals at different locations around the pond.
We searched for animals among the plants on the pond banks, on the trunks and tops of trees and in
bushes and water animals under stones, sieved silt on the banks and caught a few swimming samples.
Simple methods of hunting were used (nets, sieves, turning over stones and the remains of dead plants
and animals). Water samples were took for further lab analysis in the pond, at the waterside and
Using the AQUAMERCK portable school lab kit, the basic chemical water analysis was done to detect
water quality.
In terms of physics we measured the following water quantities:
water temperature at different depth and surface,
relative air humidity above the surface,
electrical conductivity
We also measured chemical parameters such as:
Oxygen quantity- O2
Nitrate and nitrite- NO3, NO2
Ammonium NH4
Carbonate hardness
The pond of Koseze has the typical characteristics of a pool that enables life to different plant and
animal existence. In spite of its anthropogenic origin ecological succession has created a natural
environment with no significant signs of pollution so far.
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The vegetation is quite heterogeneous. Close to water we can find typical marshy plants and a little
farther away there are also usual the meadow plants. The slow flow of the water in the swamp adds to
this ecosystem.
Determining the species of plants at this time of the year is not a simple task because most of them
have dropped their leaves and chlorophyll. The students tried to identify the plants on their own. We
had seen some of the plants in our biology lessons, but for many of them they had to refer to our
literature when writing their reports (1, 10., 15).
Having no suitable equipment and due to the fact that the time of vegetation was nearly over, we could
not define the sunken plants. But we know from our literature that there are a great number of such
It was late autumn, so we found very few animal species and the number of representatives of
individual species was also small. We recorded the presence of some of them from their remains. We
found the skin of a ring snake, empty shells of different snails, bits of shells of a Trichoptera sp. and
the shells of two different species of tortoise. The presence of Trichoptera, which are very sensitive to
the state of oxygen, confirms that the water is not too polluted after all.
We discovered many interesting animal species in the shore line, in the shallow water and some
species of birds on the pond surface (4., 11., 12.,16.).
In summer, when the abiotic factors are more favourable, the variety of species are certainly much
wider and it is typical of ponds.
In spite of its anthropogenic origin, ecological succession in the pond of Koseze has created a natural
environment with no significant signs of pollution so far.
Urbanization and man’s activity, however, represent a great ecological impact. Our students discussed
the eutrophication processes, which can lead from latent eutrophication into less favourable gowth
Our students were enthusiastic towards their field work methods, becoming familiar with the
instruments and analyse, team work and sampling. The difficult part was the interpretation of the
results and the writing of the report.
General conclusions
The goal of our projects was also to develop the special skills of the students by working on field
measurements, to increase the abilities of nature observation and making conclusions on the obtained
data. It was also very important to learn how to compare our results with those of the official
measurements and to find out what the reasons were that caused the differences.
The project achieved also the following objectives:
The collaboration on a common theme and social interaction,
The development of team-work and organization skills,
The stimulation of interdisciplinary thinking,
The application of ICT skills,
The development of the ability to perform precise measurements and critical data
The development of report writing and presentation skills,
The motivation of our students to know, in depth, the values of nature and ecology in order to
realise the danger of climate changes.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
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An increased awareness of the importance of environmental quality and influences caused by
Brus, R., 2004. Drevesne vrste na Slovenskem, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana.
Center za pedologijo in varstvo okolja, Evropska komisija, Mestna občina Ljubljana, projekt
URBSOIL. (2002-2003)
Drobne,F. 2001. Kratek pregled geoloških značilnosti na širšem prostoru Koseškega bajerja in
Ljubljane v: Koseški bajer-naravna dediščina. Zveza društev za varstvo okolja v Sloveniji,
Engelhardt, W., 2003. Was lebt in Tumpel, Bach und Weiher?. Kosmos, Stuttgart.
Green, N.P.O., Stout, G.W., Taylor, D.J. 1990: Biological Science. Cambridge University Press.
Martinčič in drugi., 1999.Mala flora Slovenije, 3.izd. Ljubljana.
Mršić, N., 1997: Živali naših tal. TZS
Mršić, N., Novak, T. 1995: Vzorčenje in določanje talnih živali. ZRSŠ.
Priročnik za terensko delo REKA, Zavod Republike Slovenije za šolstvo, Ljubljana, 1999
Seidel, D., Eiseinreich, W., 1992. Slikovni rastlinski ključ, Državna založba, Ljubljana.
Seliškar, A., Wraber, T.,1996. Travniške rastline na Slovenskem. Prešernova družba, Ljubljana.
Sket, B.,Gogala, M., Kuštor, V., 2003. Živalstvo Slovenije. TZS
Spazzapan- Brelih,V. in drugi. 2001. Koseški bajer-naravna dediščina. Zveza društev za varstvo
okolja v Sloveniji, Ljubljana.
Zbornik seminarja Kemija v okolju; dr. Ana Vovk Korže, ZRSŠ, Veniše, maj 2006
Darja Silan has degree in biology and MSc in Plant ecology. She works as a secondary school teacher in high school. She’s
also as mentor teacher for sustainability education at The National Education Institute of The Republic of Slovenia.
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Soil sampling in Zvezda park
The collected materials in the hands of the students from 2. Class
Vlažnost zraka [%] - november
Vlažnost [%]
9. 00
11 5
11 20
.1 05
13 .20
.1 05
15 .20
.1 05
17 .20
.1 05
19 .20
.1 05
21 .20
.1 05
23 .20
.1 05
25 .20
.1 05
27 .20
.1 05
29 .20
.1 05
vlažnost zraka
Air humidity in November 2007
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Forest Pedagogy in Slovenia
M.Sc. Natalija Györek
Institute for Forest Pedagogy, Slovenia
[email protected]
In learning and education for sustainable development, Slovenian forests undoubtedly have a major
role. Forest pedagogy can be the basis for such education. While this is a relatively new branch of
pedagogy, it is becoming increasingly common in Europe; however, in Slovenia, it is at an early stage.
The fundamental basis for such education has been made in the curriculum for nursery schools and
primary schools, but it has not yet been realised. The reasons for this are both subjective and objective
in nature. Objectively, vaguely defined goals primarily in teaching programs have caused delays in
realising forest pedagogy, while subjectively the problems are in the nature and causes of assuming
greater responsibility for teaching, the kind of preparation in the use of more empirical and
experimental methods, teacher knowledge etc.
In the future, an interdisciplinary approach would be desirable, bringing together science teaching as
a nature-engineering profession.
Forest pedagogy is coming to Slovenia relatively late in comparison to other European countries; in
particular, it depends on the activities of individual societies and associations in this field. The most
important in this type of education is still the initiative and the role of schools and nursery schools.
The fact remains, however, that the teaching about forest and aquatic ecosystems, and the interaction
between natural ecosystems and their environment, is to frequently implemented entirely in school
classrooms and does not include knowledge about sustainable development.
The United Nations declared the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development for the period
between 2005 and 2014. From the perspective of sustainability, the forest is the perfect example: it is
eternal yet simultaneously destructible; every person should understand its vital interdependence of
living and inanimate nature, the interdependence of plants, animals and humans (Anko 2009).
Slovenian forests and their management are good indicators of sustainable management and, as such,
highly appropriate as a positive example for activities and education within the scope of forest
pedagogy. Slovenian forests can become the foundation for children's creativity, which is perhaps the
most essential skill for their future personal success.
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance and values of forest pedagogy, and to draw
attention to possible barriers that prevent more systematic work in this area.
Definition of forest pedagogy
Forest pedagogy is a relatively new branch of science, which brings together interdisciplinary
pedagogical and forestry knowledge. The name originates from Central Europe; along with other
related terms.
Slovenia’s neighbour Austria provides an interesting example. Forest pedagogy is teaching people
about the forest, specifically, its non-economic aspects. Learning is mediated through direct and
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indirect perception, which includes learning by doing, i.e., with the heart and head. In the forest,
trained foresters teach people, through a rich learning experience by providing the knowledge of the
functions and importance of the forest. Forest pedagogy is a tool with which foresters teach about the
environment and the appearance of life, which requires proper and good knowledge of the forest
(Botka and Moser, 2003, in Divjak Zalokar 2008).
Examples of good practice can be seen in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and France. In Austria
(Waldpädadagogik; www.waldpaedagogik.at), eighteen forest training centres have been established;
1,200 forest-educated teachers carry out guided training (at least three hours) in the forest. Nursery
schools (Waldkindergarten, Naturkindergarten), forest schools (Waldschule) hotels and youth forests
have also been established. Each year in France, 30,000 pupils are enrolled in the forest programs and
projects, producing over 400 projects.
The formal term “forest pedagogy” (or similar) is not yet in use, although individual activities that can
be included in forest pedagogy, are already underway.
In short, in Slovenia, forest pedagogy is defined as education and training on forest and nature, and its
values. It is based on the emotional perception of nature, to promote experiential learning and thus
develop a positive attitude towards nature. Activities carried out in the woods.
The principles of forest pedagogy are based on understanding the relationship of humanity to the
environment and to nature, and knowledge of forest ecosystems. Forest pedagogy also promotes and
educates people about sustainable development in its social, economic and environmental aspects. It
presents a bridge between natural and social sciences, and offers a holistic and systemic approach that
takes into account structure of environmental problems.
Values and advantages of forest pedagogy
Children’s history of contact with nature
Children’s relationship to nature is created through the development and life of humans (Homo
sapiens) for almost their entire history. In the beginning, humanity lived in close harmony with
nature. With the cultivation of plants, the domestication of animals and permanent settlements, a slow
and long process of alienation from nature began.
However, from the beginning of human development and throughout most of history, children have
maintained close contact with nature. Their first choice of games is based on visits to the nearby
forest or forest edge, large trees or streams.
Changes began in the second half of the twentieth century. With urbanization, the natural playground
began slowly to disappear, the natural landscape, under the influence of urbanization, greatly
decreased. However, children were still free during their playtime, with very little parental
supervision (White 2004).
The lives of children today are quite different; their physical contact with the outside environment has
been greatly reduced. The culture of childhood in which they can spontaneously explore nature and
have contact with their surroundings is over (More 2004); the daily lives of children have been
reduced to courtyards and gyms. Research indicates a lack of security due to various factors, as the
cause in most cases (Wilson 1996).
The consequences of such a lifestyle are that children simply do not know that nature is part of their
lives, and perceive it as a separate environment. They do not know the tree and animal species,
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ecosystem functioning, nor do they develop an appropriate attitude towards them. They do not know
that the quality of our lives depend on forests. Some even develop a fear of nature. When these kids
grow up, to them nature on has meaning as a barrier.
The child experience of nature
Children experience nature in a completely different way than adults. Nature is green laboratory for
them, where they can, test how things work with their hands, through play and their own research.
Research has shown that love of nature and a positive environment increases with regular contact and
playing in the natural environment (Bunting and Cousins 1985; Kals et al. 1999; Schultz et al. 2004).
Children's emotional and affective values of nature develop earlier than their abstract, logical and
rational perspectives (Kellert 2002). The problem of most environmental and school educational
programs about nature is that they show nature from the perspective of adults and in an abstract and
logical way, which is not suitable for children in their early years.
Values and advantages of forest pedagogy
Many people do not know that the forest once covered the entire Earth. It did not only assert itself
where water made this impossible, or in distinct climatic conditions. The forest has always been a
natural framework, essential to human existence and development. Attitude towards trees and forests
have largely been positive: the forest is a place of imagination, a core identity, a strong spiritual and
emotional impact (Slee et al. 2003).
Today, we find that people of all ages need contact with nature, precisely because it brings pleasure
and enjoyment. So today, when the forest is the largest natural area in the densely populated cultural
landscape, people return to reflect its non-material values. The fact is that our society focuses much
effort on raising environmental awareness, which is certainly very positive, but actual knowledge of
nature is less. In addition, we must consider that the nature is a superior concept of the environment.
Therefore a "step back" may be necessary for children and thus adults better to understand nature, to
love it and to learn to respect it.
Knowledge of the functioning and structure of forests offers us something more than just a biological
baseline knowledge of ecosystems. In the woods, we can track what life values nature offers us.
Nature is a constant creation of new life (Mlinšek 1993), and accordingly forest pedagogy should be
well designed, creative and innovative. Forestry science and management in Slovenia has long been
based on educational principles of the great reformer of science and practice in education Johann
Heinrich Pestalozzi. The nature of the forest is best known in an experiential way, which is an
important step in the next signpost proper forest management.
In a natural forest, it can be seen that the young parts of the forest are sheltered by old trees that
protect them, throughout centuries of growth. These young trees tell us about patience, perseverance,
solidarity between generations, that the values given to us by today's fast pace of life are lacking.
Trees tell us their life stories: the beech about its authority, the fir about patience, the decaying oak
tree about the history of any war, discoveries and other historical landmarks. Such stories can
frequently be found in the woods, but we need to explore them.
Here new dimensions for education of the children and our coexistence with nature open up. In the
first period of children’s’ lives, they experience their surroundings on the emotional level, so the
forest offers a maximum in terms of promoting autonomy, children's imagination and creativity,
social contacts and motor skills.
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Forest pedagogy is based on experiential learning and research methods. These are the so-called
active methods that mentally and emotionally attract children to solving problems and are especially
suited for activities under the forest pedagogy. Active and experiential learning through direct
experience of events, in their natural environment and specific problem-solving, focusing on
processes of mutual influence and connections between phenomena have a positive impact on child's
development (Marentič Požarnik 1993).
Forest pedagogy is aimed at target groups, but primarily we are addressing it to preschool and school
children. The forest is green schoolroom and forest pedagogy takes place only in nature and forest
Upgrading and continuing education may be an interdisciplinary project work or the work of the
entire class, because connection is possible with almost all school subjects. Specifically, knowledge
and experience on the functioning and structure of natural ecosystems may also be used to advantage
in all other subjects, such as Slovene language, history, geography, music, art education and also for
more abstract subjects, such as mathematics or physics.
The forest is a common element of the Slovene landscape, and therefore a value in itself (Bogataj
2009). Forests in Slovenia also have economic and environmental and social components, which are
essential for the health, welfare, and social and cultural development of people.
Forests cover slightly less than 60 percent of Slovenian territory; greater forest coverage in Europe is
found only in Sweden and Finland. Seventy percent of forests have been preserved, i.e., their structure
and composition is quite similar to virgin forests. Slovenian virgin forests are maintained at Kočevje,
(the virgin forest Rajhenavski Rog (51 ha) and virgin forest Pečka (60 ha)) and are classrooms for all
of Europe. In addition, we also have culled and eight protected primeval forest reserves. A walk
through the old growth forests shows us all the dimensions of nature.
Management of Slovenian forests is sustainable and multipurpose, and based on clearly defined laws.
We have a tradition of forest management in Slovenia, which is based on principle of sustainability
and this principle is the basis for the ethical management with our forests (Anko, 2001).
The Slovenian forest is an irresistible field of research; however, our children do not know about
forests and other natural ecosystems. Despite knowledge of the importance of education in nature and
experiential learning, changes are slow, at least in Slovenia. The teaching profession has decided for
this style of education in a very small number of cases. What are the barriers?
1) The fact is that both, the nursery school curriculum (Curriculum 1999), as well as educational
programs for elementary schools (Medpredmetna…, 1999) in Slovenia provide educational activities
in nature and the outdoors. However, the problem is that curricula for elementary schools do not have
clearly distinct nature of environmental objectives. Nature education is somehow lost among general
environmental education.
2) One factor is surely the teachers' concern for safety of pupils outside the classroom. Forest teacher
training courses take responsibility and make a clear code of conduct in the forest, for example
(Pädagogische ... Arbeit, 2007):
Children should always be within eyeshot and earshot of the group. The area for playing the
game could be marked out with rope, natural obstacles or orientation points.
Children should immediately return to the forest teacher, when they hear a particular sound.
No littering in the forest.
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Speak only if you have a megaphone.
Do not eat unknown forest fruits.
Do not climb the trees.
Possible injuries must be immediately reported.
I must mention that in the last five years, preventive actions to protect against tick bites have been
held, which has been well received by the public. The forest, in this way, becomes perceived as an
unreasonably dangerous area, and one to avoid.
3) A further negative point of view is that while nursery schools and schools implement science-days
for children and organize more days of school in nature, but only with sport themes. The Centre for
School and Extracurricular Activities (hereafter CSOD) and schools have similarly determined general
and operating didactic goals; however, the CSOD has promoted particular sports programs and
reduced natural themes (Kranjec 2010).
4) An important factor for this type of education is teacher knowledge. Torkar (2008) and Kranjec
(2010) have found that the teachers do not separate the concepts of nature and environment; they also
do not know how to define concepts of nature conservation, protected areas, environment and
protection of the environment, biodiversity, sustainable development. The teacher has an important
role at this kind of education. Children, especially in the first triennium of the school, trust her and
they respect her. If the teacher has a positive attitude toward nature and uses appropriate methods, it
will result in children enthusiastically learning about nature.
5) For the wider promotion and implementation of such a method of education, it is also necessary to
think about training teachers to use certain methods. A contradiction occurs here, because many
believe that it is a waste of time and that pupils must first acquire basic knowledge, and then proceed
to joint research, games, simulations, dialogues etc. (Marentič-Požarnik 2002). Teachers in the first
triennium of primary school in the subject of Environmental Education mostly use methods of
conversation, explanations and demonstrations; less so field and experimental work (Balažic 2008).
The expected results of forest pedagogy clearly outweigh the above negative aspects. Some of the
more positive results are a heightened emotional approach to nature, the collection of direct
experience, long-term knowledge, greater interest in learning, more self-initiative and autonomy at
work, better observation and understanding of phenomena in nature, becoming accustomed to field
work, becoming accustomed to interdisciplinary work and the creation of positive values. It can also
be said that this type of teaching is encouraging, as children like to research activities, gaining
knowledge in a fun and yet educational way.
Forest pedagogy is a new scientific discipline in Central and Western Europe. With the ongoing
development of forest pedagogy in Slovenia, we want and to invite children and teachers in the forest,
to emphasis the value of the forest and to motivate children to responsible treatment of nature. In a
narrower sense, we provide information on the Slovenian forests, forest operations explained as an
ecosystem and the importance of sustainable development in the case of forest management,
encouraging creativity and learning in nature, based on an experiential basis.
Late this year, drafts and plans for education of children for sustainable development will be
introduced to Slovenia. Only this can help children realise the values of education, which include a
respect for nature and forest.
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The question still remains whether it will be possible to establish links between schools and the natural
environment. Probably such a mode of education (the nature of nature) has remained largely
dependent on teacher interest in nature and the integration of it in the annual lesson plans. In the
future, an interdisciplinary approach will bring together education and nature/engineering disciplines
(foresters, biologists, geographers etc) in forest pedagogy. This has been done in other parts of Europe.
Therefore, let Pestalozzi's rule be valid: go into the woods with your heart, head and hands! Because
nature can offer more experiential knowledge as a teacher with the words, because the teacher has
never lectured and taught in terms of things that a child can touch, see or hear.
Anko B. in sod., 2009. Berilo o trajnosti. Ljubljana, Andragoški center Slovenije: 58 str.
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oddelek za gozdarstvo in obnovljive gozdne vire), Ljubljana: 152 str.
Balažic M., 2008. Okoljska vzgoja v prvem triletju osnovne šole. Diplomsko delo. (Univerza v
Mariboru, Pedagoška fakulteta). Maribor, samozaložba: 161 str.
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Bunting T. E.; Cousins L.R. 1985. Environmental dispositions among school-age children.
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Divjak Zalokar L. 2008. Pomen gozdne pedagogike pri oblikovanju odnosa otrok do gozda: dipl. delo.
(Univerza v Ljubljani Biotehniška fakulteta), Ljubljana, samoza.: 67 str.
Kals E. in sod. 1999. Emotional affinity towards nature as a motivational basis to protect nature.
Environment and behavior, 31 (2): 178-202.
Kranjec N. 2010. Ohranjanje narave v osnovnošolski vzgoji in izobraževanju: magistrsko delo.
(Univerza v Ljubljani Biotehniška fakulteta), Ljubljana, samoza.: 201 str.
Kurikulum za vrtce 1999.
http://www.mszs.si/slo/solstvo/os/pdf/vrtci_kur.pdf (24.03.2010)
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sonaravno, Ljubljana, Svet za varstvo okolja RS: 57-62.
Medpredmetna komisija za okoljsko vzgojo 1999. Učni načrt za izbirni predmet Okoljska vzgoja I, II,
III, sprejet na 28. seji Strokovnega sveta RS za splošno izobraževanje. Ljubljana, Zavod RS
za šolstvo: 24 str.
Mlinšek D., 1992. Pragozd v naši krajini. Državna založba Slovenije, Ljubljana: 149 str.
Moore R. C., 2004. Countering Children' s sedentary lifestyles-by design. Natural Learning Initiative.
http://www.naturalearning.org (25.06.2010)
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http://www.paws.daa-bbo.de/index.php (15. 03. 2010)
Torkar G., 2006. Vplivi učiteljevih vrednot na njegovo vzgojno izobraževalno delovanje na področju
varstva narave: doktorska disertacija.(Univerza v Ljubljani Biotehniška fakulteta), Ljubljana,
samoza.: 206 str.
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Slee B., Evans R., Roberst D. 2003. Understanding forestry in rural development: a report to the
Forestry Commission. Aberdeen, Macaulay institute: 119 str.
Schultz P. et al. 2004. Implicit connections with nature. Journal of Environmental Psyhology, 24 (1):
http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/TLSF/decade/uncomESD_FS.htm (23.03.2010)
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Natalija Györek studied on Biotechnical faculty, Department of Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources. She has a M.Sc in
nature conservation. She's been working as a teacher and counsellor. She established private Institute for forest pedagogy this
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“The Children’s Forest School”
Jürgen Bender
Grundschule Wohra, Germany
[email protected]
“Come forth into the light of things. Let Nature be your teacher.”
William Wordsworth
In this lecture ‘The Children Forest school’ will be presented as part of Grundschulle Wohra and as
part of our educational philosophy. I will present nature awareness activities we practise in our
Forest school and will work out the positive effects, which they have on the children: physical and
social abilities, a strong trust in one’s abilities, team work, knowledge about nature, sense for
spiritual connection, high identification with their own forest,respectfor nature, different ways ro
preserve nature, work in the forest.
Besides information about the role of the teacher I will present photos and newspaper articles and
diaries of the chidren in which write and paint about their Children Forest School. In my ednucational
practise I’m deaply influenced by the American naturalist Joseph Cornell and wil also present his
method of ‘Flow learning’.
In 1983, I bought a small farm in the village of Langendorf in central Germany and for several years I
grew vegetables and cared for our flock of goats. Then, 18 years ago, I began teaching in a small
Primary School in the nearby village of Wohra. My colleagues and I are now teaching 60 children
between the ages of 6 and 10 years old.
Our school is part of the German school system, which is mainly based on the importing of
knowledge: knowledge is the main educational objective, with the process of learning merely a means
of achieving knowledge.
In our small school the process of learning is central to the curriculum. We help the children find their
own way of learning and what is more important, most of the time they learn by doing! Our outdoor
activities are a main example of this way of learning.
In 2004, we established ‘The Children’s Forest School’ as our biggest classroom in a nearby forest.
Once a week, a 20-minute walk brings us to our meeting place under a big old beech tree. It’s a
marvellous tree, which spreads its huge branches over us. Two years ago some parents built a small
open hut as a shelter, so we have a roof over our heads in extreme weather. Once a week I spend three
to four hours here with my class of 23 children, whether in spring, summer, autumn or winter.
When I’m in the forest with the children, I’m not a teacher for them, but I’m their nature guide. My
basic attitudes are respect for the children and reverence of nature. My educational principles are as
- Teach less and share more
Besides telling children the bare facts of nature, I like to tell them of my feelings, e. g. when I see a
special tree or when our forest is covered with morning mist.
- Be receptive, be sensitive
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Receptivity means listening and being aware. I try to respond to a child’s present mood and feelings
and to stay alert to what nature is doing around us at the present moment. Something exciting or
interesting is almost always happening. The lesson plan is written minute by minute by nature.
- Focus the children’s attention without delay
I try to involve the children as much as I can and make them feel that their findings are interesting and
important to me.
-Look and experience first, talk later
Children have a marvellous capacity for absorbing themselves in whatever they are looking at. They
will gain a far better understanding of things outside themselves by becoming one with them rather
than from second-hand talk.
- A sense of joy should be part of the experience
Whether in the form of gaiety or calm attentiveness, children are naturally drawn to learning if you can
keep the spirit of the occasion happy and enthusiastic. One’s enthusiasm is contagious and it is
perhaps the greatest asset as a teacher and nature guide.
So what happens in our ‘Children Forest School’? The first and a very important activity is ... That we
share breakfast together under our big old beech tree. We are not in a hurry, we take our time. After
breakfast we start our meeting in silence. We listen to nature’s melody for one or two minutes - and I
can tell you: it’s never the same! Afterwards, the children love to share what they’ve heard, e. g. the
different birds’ songs they’ve heard. Often they even tell each other, what they’ve smelled or felt.
They say for example, “I felt that spring is coming”, or “today the sun looks like a big bright shadow
flowing over the sky.” The children are very alert to what happens around them and from week to
week they realize the changes in our ‘Children’s Forest’, whether it’s a little baby beech beside our
fireplace, which comes out of the earth in spring like a miracle or whether it’s the song of a bird we’ve
never heard before. This special alertness has developed over months and years in a way that is in
strong contrast to our German school system - when we are in the forest, we have a lot of time! There
is no stress! There is no hurry! There are no exams! There is no teacher waiting to start the next
lesson! We’re just there, outdoors, once a week, forty times a years, for four years. It feels like heaven!
And without realizing it the children become a part of the forest and its inhabitants, whether animals,
plants, rocks or earth. And this is the main basis for the children’s attitude towards their forest: They
feel at home! They feel at home in their forest! And this strong identification is the basis for real
learning, for a lasting learning!
In this way knowledge is not what we are looking for in our ‘Children’s Forest School’. It develops in
a natural way, it really happens! For example, every child has his or her own special tree in our forest.
They visit their tree every week - for one minute to say ‘Hello’ ... for two minutes to give it a hug ...
for five minutes to listen to its latest story ... or for twenty minutes to sit down at its trunk and write a
story or a poem. In winter the children are very careful, because they don’t want to disturb or wake the
tree up. It’s a very emotional approach, but in this way the child becomes an expert about their tree
and learns a lot about it, which will last for a long time. And what the children say about their trees is
not second-hand talk, but it’s first-hand experience!
After our meeting under the big old beech tree we do a nature activity or game together, e. g. Fox
Hunting, Predator and Prey, Bat and Moth or Pyramid of Life. When we have finished our game, the
children start their excursions. They visit their trees or have to fulfil special tasks - alone, with a
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partner or in a group, e. g. Blind trail, Blind walk, Caterpillar walk or Camera. But the main part and at
the heart of our visits to ‘The Children’s Forest School’ is the ‘forest free time’. Every time we are
there the children go their own ways for at least 45 minutes. They can do whatever they want, as long
as they follow our common rules: Stay within the limits of our ‘Forest School’! Don’t disturb forest
life! Leave the forest in the same condition as you’ve entered it! Within these bounds, which also give
safety to every member of the group, the children experience their freedom in different ways. There
are so many things to do, e. g. swinging or climbing in a tree; collecting stones, flowers or other
treasures; playing in the mud; catching lizards; building huts and houses out of fallen branches;
working in their gardens; selling their sites and houses to one another for lots of leaves (this is the
usual currency in our ‘Forest School’); some children go hunting – especially boys love to play war
So they do what children love to do! And I, their nature guide, am simply around. I have the
opportunity to appreciate their work and their treasures, to listen to their stories, hand out tools and
give a helping hand in building their houses. I am also a mediator when the children can’t solve a
quarrel on their own. And for me this is very eventful and satisfying work, because the whole
atmosphere in our open-air classroom is much more relaxed and free than in any other classroom
within four walls with a concrete roof over our heads. It’s an atmosphere of solitude and fulfilment
and the children learn a lot about nature and it’s circular connections. They also learn a lot about music
- we sing together and play rhythms with our self-made rhythm sticks. They make land art in our
forest and draw pictures. We also say prayers in German, English or Lakota. Here is one of our
favourite prayers, written by Joseph Cornell, who has given me much inspiration for my work as a
nature guide:
“The Birds of the Air
The birds of the air are my brothers,
All flowers my sisters,
The trees are my friends.
All living creatures,
Mountains and streams,
I take unto my care.
For this green earth is our mother.
Hidden in the sky is
the Spirit above.
I share one life with all who are here:
To everyone I give my love,
To everyone I give my love.”
So in our big, outdoor classroom we manage nearly all the subjects of our schedule: sports, art,
handwork, biology, religion, German, English and music. And it doesn’t matter which subject we do.
All are one; all learning is based on interest and curiosity. It’s the natural way of learning and the
children do it very passionately because as I’ve mentioned before, they feel at home in their forest! It’s
their own! They identify fully with it! And without realizing it they appreciate the freedom they have
in our ‘Forest School’ in a positive way. This freedom of learning and living together would never be
possible in a normal, concrete classroom. But even back in our school rooms down in the valley of
Wohra you can feel the positive influence of our ‘Children’s Forest School’.
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A main condition for the identification and freedom in learning is trust. I’m the children’s nature guide
and I’m responsible for the group. When I let the children go into the forest, I must know them very
well. In letting them find their own way, I must have confidence in them that they can handle
unforeseen situations. I have to give every child the feeling, yes, you have it in you! Yes, you can do
it! This is what makes them grow.
In winter e. g., I let some children build and light the fire. It may be a risk, when it’s 10 degrees below
zero, but when it works, it’s marvellous, it’s a fulfilling experience for every child and is appreciated
by everybody. Appreciation is what children need in order to learn and to grow! And when children
feel this trust, this confidence, they will move in their forest more confidently and fewer accidents or
negative things will happen. That’s my experience after 7 years working as a nature guide.
In our ‘Children’s Forest School’ every child is growing in their own way and is developing their
individual abilities. But the whole class is growing as a group as well and the social structure is
strengthened in different ways. Every child has a different role than in our concrete classrooms: e. g.,
Nick, who often needs help in mathematics and German, is one of our best workers. Tim is our
specialist in sawing. Roman is a fantastic observer. Yvonne does her best sketches in the forest. Marie
works and runs and plays without getting tired. Jonas loves to be the leader of the gang. Marco is our
favourite fire maker. Emilia is very creative in her garden. Leon loves the muddy places. Lucas always
gives everybody a helping hand. Noah is a good mediator.
The change of role is very important for every child and for their position in the group. Especially
during ‘forest free time’ there is often a natural change of partners or in the groups of three to six
children. All this is very healthy for the group and a good basis for the development of solidarity and
an atmosphere of give and take. Every visitor to our ‘Forest School’ realizes that there is an
atmosphere of respect. The children do not only treat nature respectfully, but they treat one another
respectfully, too. And one can even feel this respectful attitude when we are back in our concrete
The respect for nature and all living creatures is the basis for the next step the children take in our
‘Forest School”: They learn to feel responsible for what they do! When you are out in nature, you can
learn responsibility better than in any concrete classroom. When four children cut down a dead oak
tree for our next fire, they must know what can happen, they must act responsibly. When some
children put their wooden sticks inside the fireplace, which they love to do, they must know, what can
happen. They must act responsibly. When they climb a tree, it’s the same. When they lead their partner
blind through the forest, they must act very responsibly. In this way they even learn to take
responsibility for their ‘Children’s Forest School’. The children know that our ‘Forest School’ is not
only an ecological circle, but that it’s also part of an economical system, that is the government wants
to earn money with the forest. A few years ago a big machine, called a harvester, was cutting through
our lovely forest not far away from our ‘Forest School’. So we got into contact with the local forester
and with the major of the community and invited them to our open-air classroom. A big discussion
took place under the big old beech. The children had many questions, showed our guests their big
classroom and told them that they didn’t want the machine to cut any of the trees in their ‘Forest
School’. The officials were very impressed by the children’s determination and promised that the
harvester wouldn’t enter the ‘Forest School’. So the children painted signs and put up a red string to
keep the harvester out. And it worked - not a single tree was cut and the children’s effort was even
appreciated in the newspapers. This was an overwhelming experience for the children. They saved
their ‘Forest School’! The adults had listened to their arguments and they had learned how democracy
works. They had learned for life!
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In this way our ‘Children’s Forest School’ does not only have positive effects on the children, but even
on the whole school community. The ‘Forest School’ has become an acknowledged part of our school
life. Once or twice a year, every class holds festivities in the ‘Forest School’. Children, parents and
grandparents meet under the big old beech and especially the adults are always surprised what a
relaxed time everybody has out there. Every winter we celebrate Christmas out in the forest. When our
school had its 100th birthday three years ago, parents built a nice shelter next to the beech tree and all
classes and visitors spent a day together in the ‘Forest School’. Even at weekends children ask their
parents to take a walk to the ‘Forest School’ and children’s birthday parties are often celebrated there.
The kindergarten groups sometimes go there, too. So it has become a favourite outdoor meeting place
within our community.
But even outside of our community we try to make it public that another way of school education is
possible and necessary. Once or twice a year there are articles about our outdoor activities in the local
newspapers and from the nearby University of Marburg students sometimes join us to get an insight
into our outdoor philosophy. Teachers from other schools are interested also and visit us. In this way
we try to spread the idea of outdoor education and hope to be an example for other schools and to
encourage them to discover their own ways in education, whether with a ‘Forest School’ or with other
outdoor activities.
In my work as a nature guide I’m inspired by the American nature educator Joseph Cornell. The nature
activities and games I mentioned above are derived from his books ‘Sharing Nature with Children’
and ‘Sharing Nature with Children II’. In October 2005 I had the chance to take part in one of his
workshops not far away from my hometown. It was a deeply moving experience for me. In his second
book Joseph Cornell introduces his method of ‘Flow Learning’, a method of placing his nature
activities in a thematic sequence, to ensure a genuinely uplifting experience.
Jürgen Bender is a teacher for secondary school, subject English/Sports, primary teacher since 1992 at Grundschule Wohra.
Teacher for outdoor center learning since 2004. At that time “The Children’s Forest School” was established.
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Folk Tradition in Outdoor Education
Janja Gril, Nataša Sardinšek
CŠOD – Centre for School and Outdoor Education, Slovenia
[email protected], [email protected]
Primary task of outdoor education passed us already French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau,
with his famous quotation: »Back to the Nature«. The most important mission of outdoor education is
to approach nature to the children. Children would have to discover the nature once again. They
should enjoy exploring, playing and learning outdoors. And most important, they should also develop
responsibility for preserving it.
Implementation of outdoor education is on the other side inseparably connected with human being and
cultural landscape he had created. Folklore is a treasury of knowledge based on life circumstances
and experiences of individual region, which evolve during centuries. With this knowledge our
ancestors harmoniously coexisted with nature.
Slovenia is a small country (20.273 km2 ). In spite of smallness it amazes us with diversity of regions
and valuable folk tradition.
In this article we will introduce a part of folk tradition of two geographical completely different parts
of Slovenia: Carinthia (Koroške) and a part of Styria (Štajerske) – Ptuj and surrounding area. With
this presentation we will try to exemplify how regional features on small distances created different
and unique folklore.
Historical development of folklore
Gathering of folk tradition began in 18th century (1760) in Great Britain, where a Scottish teacher
James Macpherson published collection Fragments of Ancient Poetry. Right after him an Anglican
bishop Percy published two collections of original old English songs: Five peaces of unic poetry and
Reliques of ancient poetry.
European influence influenced on Slovene contemporaries. Marko Pohlin in his grammar Kranjska
gramatika (1768) called for gathering of folk songs. Onto his initiative Dizma Zakotnik prepared first
collection of Slovene folk songs. In 1788 Marko Pohlin published first collection of riddles. The first
collection of Slovene proverbs published by Janez Mihelič was unfortunately lost. So the oldest
collection of Slovene proverbs is kept in Grammar (1777) and Dictionary (1779) of Ožbalt Gutsman.
Word folklore is English origin (folk-lore) and means knowledge of people. Term folklore was first
used by English archaeologist William Thoms (1846) in newspaper The Athenaeum. A new term
include traditionally folk culture of less educated layer of population: songs, proverbs, customs,
believing, rites,… New concept was well accepted in professional public and since year 1880 being
used in all specialist literature.
Science that has been investigating folklore is folkloristic. It started in 19th century. Not only is
folkloristic collecting folk material and knowledge, it also interpreting gathered material.
In contemporary Slovene folkloristic literature concept of folklore is capturing traditional folk
occurrences and creations: folk music, dance, folk art, poetry, prose, believing, folk medicine,
costume and architecture (Terseglav Marko, 1987).
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Slovene literature folklore
As literature is art of literary language, folklore is art of dialects. Nowadays when frontiers between
individual dialects are slowly disappearing, is more appropriately to say that literature folklore is art
of spoken language (Marija Stanonik, 1999).
Slovene dialects are geographical language types of Slovenian language. They differentiate by
vocabulary, phonetics, accent,… There are over 40 dialects in Slovenia. They are united into 7
dialectal groups. Reasons for dialectal diversity of Slovenia are: geographical features of territory
(which prevented regular contact between inhabitants of different regions), contact with neighbouring
In Slovenia we have well known proverb: »Every village has her own voice (Osaka vas imam so
glass).« And it is very true. In unit Peca children meet Carinthia dialect, in unit Štrk meet Styria
dialect. Although, teaching is in literary language melody of individual dialectal group is hidden and
heard inside of it. Children can hear dialect also among our unofficial conversations (during spare
time) and during fieldwork when they are in interaction with local population.
Short folk forms
They are the shortest forms of literature folklore.
Proverbs: are short and concise thoughts which are based on experiences of our ancestors.. We are
engaging them in everyday conversations when we want to support our claims. Proverbs can also be a
part of fairy tales. They are indispensable in fables as a moral lesson on the end.
Pleas: are short folklore forms with punctually prescribed shape. Their main intention is treatment
with words (folk medicine). Healers believed that rite functions only if it is mysterious. Therefore the
hillers intercede knowledge just before they died (on deathbed). If knowledge was revealed it lost
mystical power
Riddles: are twisted questions, statements or descriptions, usually thickened in only one sentence. The
receiver’s task is to solve it. Riddles have great educational meaning. They are enriching imagination,
training logical mind, reasoning, observation, train concentration. .. That is why they are placed among
didactic word art
Child folklore forms: are short texts that live among the children and are part of their play. Those are
teasers, harbs… (Marija Stanonik, 1999).
All above listed folk forms we regularly use at class. Most often used folk forms are proverbs and
riddles. Proverbs have important educational meaning, because of hidden rules of life. Many proverbs
of Slovene folk tradition speak about weather, while it influenced on food production and survival.
Majority of them are widespread all around the country but some of them are used locally. They were
formed in different geographical landscapes and climate. Examples: When Peca has a cap it forecasts
bad weather (Carinthia). When Boč has a cap it forecasts bad weather (Styria).
Riddles are very popular among pupils, especially among younger ones (the first triad of primary
school). They successfully motivate children for further exploration.
Poetry is a very important part of literal and music folklore. Folk song is a sung song. Text is
inseparably connected to the rhythm and melody of a folk song. It is very important, that folk songs
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are alive and that they are still evolving among people. Language of Slovene folk songs is somewhere
between literary language and Slovene dialects, therefore they are well understood in all dialect
Epic folk songs are: mythical and fairy folk songs, heroic an historical folk songs and animal folk
Lyric folk songs are: folk songs of annual cycle, songs of a living cycle (lullabies, marriage songs…)
and songs of different interest groups (peasant songs, army songs, expatriate songs, drinking songs…).
At class we usually present recorded folk songs. Some of them are known all over the country. Those
folk songs we sing together. As we already said, folk songs are still evolving, so we often get to know
different versions of folk songs or even melodies of songs. Sometimes pupils even bring along folk
instruments (accordion) and we use it within our interpretation of well known Slovene folk songs.
Folk tales
They are divided in two groups: fairy tales and tales.
Fairy tales are imaginative. They origin from ancient life, and they contain basic human values.
Transition between fairy tales and tales represents fables. Those are animal short stories, which end
with a lesson.
Tales are much more bounded with the local environment. It presents realistic or at least possible
events. They are usually short. They speak about famous people, settlements, historical events… They
end either tragically or contain a life lesson.
Tales are:
Mythical tales : myths are the oldest tales which are explaining the beginning of the world,
celestial or terrestrial ghosts and severe natural disasters. Good and bad mythical creatures
(fairies, dwarfs…) are appearing in them as well as people with special strengths
Legendary tales: legends refer to Jewish and Christian tradition. It usually describes
miraculous event and holiness of people.
Historical tales: history is giving them only time frames (Turkish invasions) and lends them
personality (king Matjaž).
Interpretative tales: represents a sort of science within folklore. They try to explain nature.
Social tales: describe social life. You may not kill a mouse in mine.
Humorous tales: are funny stories about local residents and humour events.
In outdoor education we mostly use tales, which refer to local environment. They help children
understand both, culture landscape and nature in certain region. Most often presented tales are:
Historical tales:
King Matjaž and Alenčica (Kralj Matjaž in Alenčica): he was a Slovene national hero,
who successfully defended our land from Turkish invasions (Carinthia.)
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Najevnik lime tree (Najevska lipa): the tale is about the treasure hidden under very old
lime tree, which happened to have the largest size of trunk in Slovenia (Carinthia)
Mythical tales:
Cave dwarf (Berkmandeljc): the tale is about a cave dwarf who owns all the treasures of
underworld (Carinthia).
Water man on Uršlja mountain (Povodni mož na Uršlji gori): the tale tells us, how Water
man moved his lake from Uršlja mountain to Poharca (Carinthia).
Social tales:
Kurent (Styria): it is a tale of a demon that is chasing winter away and awakening nature
to the spring.
Folk architecture is our priceless legacy on countryside. Those are professionally chosen
village settlements, homesteads, residential and economic buildings. It includes also created cultural
landscape which shows us all visible human interventions into nature (building, cultivation of land…).
People were using local building material all the way up to the 19th century. Therefore we have got
similar architecture within individual geographical regions.
Pannonia house (Panonska hiša)
(Foto: Nataša Sardinšek)
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Carinthia house (Koroška hiša)
(Foto: Janja Gril)
As it is seen on photographs houses look very differently. They were built in totally different
landscapes. Pannonia house was built in lowland, agricultural region. On the contrary Carinthia house
was built in mountainous, woody region. They were made of different local building materials.
Pannonia house is built of wooden base and roughcast made of loam. The roof is made of straw.
Carinthia house is mostly made of wood (base, walls, roof), and partly of limestone (basement). Pupils
on fieldwork get to know the landscape but with the knowledge of folk tradition they understand the
present situation in area.
In outdoor education children learn about nature (regional climate, soils, ecosystems, local animal life
and flora) and human interaction with nature (cultural landscape, cultivation of land, use of land,
regional settlement, architecture…).
The primary task of outdoor education is to explore and understand our Mother Nature. But our
exploration of nature is more effective and much easier, with knowledge and experiences of local
people and their ancestors. With this knowledge we better understand their way of life and culture
landscape they have created over centuries. Children became aware of priceless
value of folk tradition.
We should be proud on our legacy, because it is original and has grown from our own
experiences and interaction with nature. But we also have to ensure that our folk tradition is
passed on to future generations.
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Cerar Drašler Irena: Pravljične poti Slovenije, založba Sidarta, Ljubljana 2004.
Cevc Tone, Primožič Ignac: Kmečke hiše v Karavankah, Založba Drava, Celovec, 1988.
Kunaver Dušica: Slovenian folk tales, samozaložba D. Kunaver, Ljubljana 2007.
Slovenski etnografski leksikon, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana 2004.
Stanonik Marija: Slovenska slovstvena folklora, DZS, Ljubljana 1999.
Terseglav Marko: Literarni leksikon (dvaintrideseti zvezek), DZS, Ljubljana 1987.
Janja Gril is a teacher of geography and history. She’s been a teacher in outdoor centre for eight year.
Nataša Sardinšek is also a geography and history teacher and has been working in outdoor centre for ten years.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Inspiration to Play Outdoors in Various Environments
Marie Aldener, Kerstin Nilsson
Resarö School, Sweden
[email protected]
Our pupils don’t often use the outdoors with their parents even though, in Sweden, there are excellent
opportunities for such experiences. Both parents are working and family weekends are often very full
of different organised activities, which mean that there is little room for less structured experiences in
All children attend school and therefore school is the arena that meets all children and we have an
important mission to ensure that our pupils encounter, experience and discover nature as part of their
education. We want our pupils to experience nature and feel safe, get inspirited and feel happiness so
that they alone and together with friends and parents continue to discover and experience nature's
possibilities. We try to use our local neighbourhood as much as we can in all lessons throughout the
year. We have classes of about 60 minutes and sometimes a bit longer, even whole days. Our outdoor
work is linked to the aims of the curriculum.
The first step is to try to make our pupils to feel safe in the outdoor environment by letting them play a
lot in uneven terrain, and thus learn to control their bodies in relation to nature, use different senses,
distance assessments, friends, cooperation, and social skill.
Children’s balance is challenged constantly and so is their self-esteem when they are outdoor playing
...yet each lesson they need to feel
“Yes! I Made It! I reached my goal!”
We believe that if children feel control of their body then it also creates the joy of movement and the
desire to move and then there are lots of lovely wild challenges that they feel ready for such as
climbing in trees and balancing on stones.
We play both basic games mixed with educational games and we want to inspire the pupils to get
involved in the development of our games and in creating new games. It is wonderful when creativity
and imagination flow and creates desire, curiosity and inspiration.
We will invite you to join in some games (with basic equipment) that our pupils have been developing
and where there are more opportunities for development.
A warm welcome to our presentation of our activities at Resarö School and to play with us outdoors.
Marie Aldener and Kerstin Nilsson work as teachers of physical education and health at Resarö School.
Resarö School is situated on an island called Resarö in the archipelago east of Stockholm in Sweden.
There is about 400 pupils aged 6 to 12 years old. Resarö School is a Council School.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Outdoor Education Facilities. – From Idea to Reality - An example
from Iceland
Guðmundur Hrafn Arngrímsson
Sæmundarskóli, Iceland
[email protected]
The approach, the process, the craftsmanship, local engagement, landscape and nature qualities, play
and recreation.
Examples of activities and use, such as from the students, teachers, local community, organised group
and visitors.
Vision for the future, further development and our overall experience witch we have yielded from this
The process of establishing the outdoor education facilities started few years ago with high spirit and
vision within the staff of a brand new elementary school. Following growing awareness of the
importance of outdoor education that had been emerging in Scandinavia, the aim was set.
The local surroundings are in many ways special for a suburban school, located in a modern
residential area, with densely built apartment buildings. The school is situated on the border, by a
local forest and a lake. Being a part of the local urban infrastructure, but at the same time reaching
out towards the natural landscape as an urban outpost.
The landscape and natural qualities were immediately incorporated in all levels of the school
operative fields.
The school administration activated local resources and parent groups to gather support for
establishment of the outdoor education facilities.
Varied work has been carried out in periods with local resources, school staff, city workers, students
and professional. Learning and social aspect have been highlighted and important for all steps of the
construction period.
Using only natural material and deriving concepts from the heritage and historical crafts, we bring
history and sustainability into practical and tangible work.
Community work has in many ways changed the social landscape of the local community and its
commitment towards the school.
Guðmundur Hrafn Arngrímsson is landscape architect and project manager.
Studied landscape architecture and planning at the University of Copenhagen and The royal Danish academy of arts.
14 years of experience in field work, working with traditional natural building materials, such as turf, rocks and timber.
President of a local community group, establishing community projects and local engagement.
Project manager at Sæmundarskóli, elementary school. Main focus is the outdoor areas, development of the outdoor
education facilities and establish a field for outdoor education and experiential learning.
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
The Biology Classroom – The Classroom from Nature to Nature
Agnes Kozorog
Primary School Dušan Munih Most na Soči, Slovenia
[email protected]
When programming the equipment of the classroom we wished it to present the part of the
environment we live in. It offers a supplementary explanation of the events and changes going on in
the nature. The objectives in primary school are to promote self study connected with observing,
comparing, and searching. All this is offered by this type of classroom.
According to applicable standards we have the classroom with high standard equipment which
enables active participation of the learners. The lessons are higher quality, clearer, and more up to
Guided work with handouts and natural materials, adopted for different age groups and goals from
the curriculum (at the classroom and other locations).
Together with our pedagogical and professional knowledge we offer with pleasure:
a visit to the classroom accompanied by a short presentation and explanations,
individual research work with prepared handouts,
watching of slides together with interesting children`s comments about attitude towards
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10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Degraded areas – rehabilitation and enlargement of a stone quarry
(Field exercises)
Maja Divjak Malavašič
Secondary School Centre Krško – Sevnica, Slovenia
[email protected]
At the “Varstvo okolja in komunala” high school (for environment protection and sanitation) I hold a
course on Rural planning and nature protection. The basic goals of the course are to encourage the
students to start judging the situation analytically in respect to special planning and protecting
natural resources, gaining skills and knowledge about protecting the environment and special
planning for improving the quality of life in rural areas. In this respect I have held a field exercise on
the subject of rehabilitation degraded areas, where the theoretical knowledge was supported by
practical exercise. The goals of the exercise were to familiarize the students with:
With procedures and content of special and environmental documentation
With the process, content and methodology of preparing environmental documents (ED)
With actual and creative solutions in approaching environmental problems
1. Introduction
I chose the Sotesta stone quarry, near the school, where there are many special documents being
prepared in order to enlarge the exploitation area. I chose the preparation of the ED in the process of
the whole study on the impact on the environment. The purpose of ED preparation was to ensure an
objective insight and estimate the probability of environmental impacts the procedure will have in all
phases of the preparation of special laws and decrees. Preparing an environmental report happened
parallel to the preparation of special documentation, for it insures the conjuncture of environmental
and environment protection of the area. With ED the effects on the environment are seen on time as all
effects are identified and procedures to minimize their impact can be implemented from the beginning
stages forward. In order to get a license to start taking action, you need to consider and implement
these measures.
Here is a presentation of the exercise and the discussion connected to it.
2. Execution of the field exercise
The lectures dealt with preparing EP, the prescribed content and methodology of making an
environmental report. The purpose of the field exercise was to make a simplified version of the
environmental report.
2.1 Getting familiarized with the task
The work took place in four groups of four students. Each group took into consideration only one
segment of the environment. Due to the limited number of students, the chosen segments were: noise
and vibrations, air, ground and underground waters, landscape with protection of natural heritage. All
groups received working materials with a description and management scheme of the quarry and the
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area to be rehabilitated, with the specifics connected with the group task being explained in further
details. They have also received the instructions with scales and methods for determining and
quantifying the effects. They had to determine direct, remote, cumulative, synergetic, short-, mid- and
long-term effects as well as non-permanent effects on the environment, which they had to classify into
five categories (A – no impact, B – insignificant impact, C – insignificant impact, if the measures are
being implemented, D – significant, E - devastating). Each group had to find the environmental
regulations that regulate the certain aspect and take it into consideration, find the sources that effect
the environment, describe the effects of rehabilitation and function of the quarry on the environment
and foresee the dampening measures, which would minimize the effects on the environment. The final
result was to prepare the environmental report.
2.2 Field work
A quarry was a classroom in the open. The students mostly watched daily routine of the quarry, the
security procedures, machinery and equipment used.
Each group had the following tasks:
Determine the areas to be rehabilitated and areas, which the quarry will incorporate, once the
enlargement is complete
Specify which sources, in respect to groups assignment, will impact the environment
Make a list of environmental measures already in power
Make a list of possible weak point from the assigned point of view
Preparing the photo-documentation
2.3 Work results
Representatives of each group presented the complete work of the group to the whole class. Other
members of the group supported the representative in preparing additional material for the presentation
Results of individual groups were then put together into a sample of an environmental report. The field
exercise concluded when the sample ED was made.
3. Organizing the discussion
The results of the EP were in some cases unrealistic, for they were hard to implement, unnecessary or
simply unacceptable (for economic, technologic, time consuming… reasons). To encourage critical
thinking about their own results, I prepared a discussion in order to further extend the experience
gained with the field exercise. Stakeholders with different interests of special planning were there to
face their opinions with one another. The discussion was led by a moderator, but all the participants
were active in discussion. The goal was, to hear compare and take into account different aspects
connected to the same topic. The final result was to get the edited version of the final report.
3.1 Getting familiar with the task
At the discussion the students were playing the roles of different stakeholders, who were making
decisions about making changes in the environment. Each member of a group involved in the field
exercise got a different role. The roles were:
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
Author of the environmental document
Local community
Green initiative
In each new group the members could then present their aspect and arguments about the environment.
Each group had to study the results of the ED to prepare the defense of their arguments in respect with
their role. The roles were:
The makers of the ED were in the role of environmentalists, who were defending the measures
to diminish the impacts on the environment. A moderator for the discussion was taken from
their group.
The investors were supporting the functions of the quarry with minimal investments and the
lowest possible number of measures.
The local community was interested in having the quarry open, because of the jobs, but under
certain circumstances (maintenance of local roads, financial compensation for degradation of
the real-estate…)
The green initiative was for the rehabilitation of the quarry and putting the area into the
original state and clearly against any enlargement. They wanted the quarry to shut down.
3.2 Organizing a discussion
After the initial un-comfort the debate had developed and shortly turned into a passionate defense of
individual suggestions. The moderator showed great skill with leading the conversation. This method
showed, how difficult it is to negotiate in real life, when different interests meet in the space for which
all included are responsible.
3.3 Results of the Work
The result of the discussion was the edited environmental document, which separately took into
consideration areas to be rehabilitated and areas where the quarry will be expanded.
For the rehabilitation area the measurements for visual perception of the area were applied.
For the area where the quarry expansion is to take place, the more sensitive measurements were
applied, considering the function of the quarry. These measures consider emissions, noise pollution
and the landscape outlook, due to the visible location of the quarry. Other things were considered
minor, as the effects of an operating quarry on the environment, which was seen as a technicaltechnological but manageable aspect. To minimize the impacts, they have also added some other
measures to be taken.
Apart from the theoretical result, the discussion also showed the social aspect of problem solving.
The students gained experience in:
Specifics of team work
The danger of blindly repeating your argument without accepting the views of others
The necessity of making compromises, but not on the account of protecting the environment
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
10th conference’s collection of papers, 22nd – 25th September 2010, Rateče – Planica, Slovenia, CŠOD Ljubljana
4. Conclusion
It was an interesting experience for the students, for they got a chance to test their knowledge on
specific tasks and further develop it. The discussion also gave them the experience with crossing
interests in society. So the field exercise and the discussion started preparing them to apply their
theoretical knowledge in real life situations they will meet once they start their employment.
Osnutek odloka o OPPN “Kamnolom Soteska” v Dolenjskih Toplicah, GPI gradbeno projektiranje in
inženiring, d.o.o. Novo mesto, junij 2009
Poročilo o vplivih na okolje za izkoriščanje in izvajanje del pri izkoriščanju in sanaciji kamnoloma
tehničnega kamna – dolomite Soteska, IRGO – Inštitut za rudarstvo, geotehnologijo in
okolje, št. IP – 270/06, julij 2007
Okoljsko poročilo za Občinski podrobni prostorski načrt kamnolom Soteska v Dolenjskih toplicah,
ERANTHIS, presoja vplivov na okolje, s.p., September 2009
Atlas okolja, ARSO, September 2009
Encountering, Experiencing and Exploring Nature in Education
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Active Cognition of the Karst Caves and Surface
Franc Malečkar
CŠOD – Centre for School and Outdoor Education, Slovenia
[email protected]
The aim of the nature-study days for pupils on the karst regions are to get to know the speleogenic
processes, speleobiology, importance of the enviromental protection, fragility of the karst ecosystems,
efforts for cave explorations, etc. Effort will be more successful with involving of the guests in active
cognition. The teacher presents the problems and help the students to solve them with all didactic
The partecipants of the conference will be treated as pupils on the study days organised by the Centre
for School and Outdoor Education. Devided in working groups will receive sheets with exercises of
geomorphology, physics, nature protection,, speleobotanic, speleoclimatology,….After following the
natural historical path from the village Slivje through the blind valley Mrzlice till the cave Dimnice,
we' ll enter in the the most didactical cave in Slovenia. We'll stop on observation points to determine
the position of the plants, observe the nutrition of the cave animals, experience the cave dark with the
game »bat-moth« which imitates tha bats catching flies, calculate the depth of the shaft,…Sollutions
will be checked by participants and the best will receive the prize.
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Biodiversity – Orchid Registrarion on Dry Carst Meadows
Mirjam Trampuž
Dr Bogomir Magajne Primary School Divača, Slovenia
[email protected]
Biodiversity describes all richness and variety of life on Earth, which includes in complex
relationships variety of individuum of individual of species, variety in number of species and diversity
of differen processes in nature. The awareness of biodiversity, its importance and goals of research
work, is easily reached with direct contact with nature, where special places could be selected as
classrooms in the field.
Park Škocjanske jame, Slovenija, the only Slovene UNESCO World Heritage site, established the
schools network of the park in 2003. It linked schools from buffer zone and core area in Slovenia and
also elementary schools from Italy.
Network enables the exchange of experiences of pedagogic workers in the field of education and
training, presentation of the park and international conventions UNESCO and Ramsar and MAB
programme to the pupils. School children are able to participate in different research projects of the
park with social or naturalistic content. Network enables also performance of schools activities in
public, which participate to rise in quality of social and intergenerational relations. Besides gaining
knowledge of environment and society, network offers possibility in cognition of Slovene and
European nature and society. With proper education programme it plays an important role in creating
the responsible attitude and knowledge in fulfilling the tasks of nature protection and conservation of
natural and cultural heritage.
Park Škocjanske jame, Slovenija, has prepared an interdisciplinary programme “Observing for
knowledge”. It includes several research projects for schools in parks network, were children perform
chemical and biological analysis of water in the Reka River and various types of wetlands, perform a
monitoring of trees and dry karst meadows.
With the research work, that will be presented, we were engaged in establishing the basis for
participatory monitoring of the Park Škocjanske jame, Slovenia. We managed to present high diversity
of habitat types regarding karst meadows, were wonderful wild orchids are growing. Plants, protected
by Natura 2000, were selected for this task because of its uniqueness and challenging field work in
schools surroundings and children homes.
The research work was performed in cooperation with experts from the Park Škocjanske jame and
Centre for Cartography of Flora and Fauna.
The variety of plants was presented to pupils on the field. They have got to know the diversity inside
one family of species Orchidaceae which are listed as most endangered. During the inventory we have
found four species typical for karst meadows Green-Winged Orchid (Orchis morio), Burnt Orchid
(Orchis ustulata), Military Orchid (Orchis militaris) and Three-toothed orchid (Orchis tridentate).
Wild orchids have been found on pristine wild meadows, while on the others there were not any. The
majority of pupils were surprised to know that the most common Orchis morio belongs to the family of
Different habitat types of meadows, according of human use, have been confronted for variety of
species and human impact on changing the ecosystems has been evaluated as well. All activities have
been oriented towards the individual features of individual organisms, guided research with
observation and comparison of the presence of certain species in habitat types.
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