Monday, 22 August 2016

Move your Classroom Outdoors

Not more than a century ago an eminent poet Sir Rabindranath Tagore created a storm in Macaulay’s world by taking the classroom “Outdoors”. This happened in Bengal at Shantiniketan and the story goes on. The only replication of it is done by Trailblazers which calls itself “The Outdoor School”. Last year when we concluded another stunning outdoor workshop series on Environment, for over 500 B.Ed. students, I had asked if they had any question - a young girl got up and said she had a prediction.

I was not sure what was coming. She said she wanted to join Trailblazers and then she predicted that the schools of the future would be such, which was being addressed by Trailblazers at the outdoor workshop! That the classroom will move outdoors. That there will be no rooms suffixed to class!

The thought  led me to think  and I wondered why should classrooms be fenced off by walls, in a way fencing off children’s minds. My team of outdoor teachers and me, have been successfully conducting classes, teaching Chemistry, Physics, Math, Statistics, Environment, Economics, Wild life, History, Geography, Sociology, all in the outdoors. The sky is our roof, earth our playground and nature our biggest teacher. What more can one ask for? These have all been truly remarkable experiences for all the accompanying school teachers, students and us. The idea is worth taking ahead.

What outdoor learning does is to fundamentally gear the senses in action thereby making the process of learning stronger. It also makes the children ask questions which sharpens the enquiry process. Many put up hypothesis and see if that applies and works thereby getting a chance to construct an idea and see its results. Many just observe and many still are dreaming. Outdoor learning evokes curiosity and wonder in children. The more fresh air they breathe, the more they play in mud, the more they dance in the rain, they become independent thinkers. These are just some of the several obvious benefits. There are different pedagogies to help them learn.

Nature in front of you is your living laboratory. It is your art class, it has History to tell you and you need not even change your geography! The light and heat have a story in Physics, the soil and water, Chemistry. You look up and see the birds fly and you look down on the carpet of grass, you sit down, you’ve just got Botany and Zoology covered. Bored? Let’s play football or meditate, do yoga! Want to do Math, the Fibonacci sequence is there to see in the way the floral designs are laid out or even in the curve of a seashell! Sociology is observing the people, for Economics you just visit the local market and in India, Political Science is everywhere. Artists take inspiration from the sunrise, Literature is inspired by emotions all around and the fragrance of the wet mud and flowers in the outdoors makes the possibilities heady!
Trailblazers, The Outdoor School’s admissions are open… join our Camp.