A theory about outdoor education from The Simpsons #ukedchat

I have watched this episode of The Simpsons many times and always wanted to do something with it.

It gives me a lot to think about, and I know that I have a lot of work to do to improve my outdoor opportunities. Sometimes I don’t always feel confident with the open ended nature of learning outside, I don’t always know how to plan it and how to explain it to others. Sometimes we are not prepared for weather with the right clothes and I know that is always the best times to be outside (puddles, mud, snow). Sometimes I’m not always prepared to take the risks involved in climbing, building etc.

I always look to educators like Alistair Bryce-Clegg @ABCDoes and his early years blog www.abcdoes.typepad.com for inspiration and guidance. My friend has been lucky enough to have training sessions from an Early Years outdoor education provider recently. The message from this training said that being outside is all about the risk taking. It’s no use taking inside activities outside, we should be providing risks. As adults who apparently spent more time outside in our childhood, roaming the fields and streets, we have many more tales to tell of the risks we took. My friend recognises children need to be outdoors at school more because children spend less time outside at home. But, she asks if any of your tales of the risks you took outside are ones happened in school time?

We are talking about something like this:

Watch ‘Memory

Nonetheless, we both agree we need more opportunities for outdoor education and improved provision. I have had a few successes in the last few years, and I’ve blogged about one of my favourites here: https://enabling-environments.co.uk/2011/05/21/education-for-sustainability/

Here’s The Simpsons and what they have to say about outdoor education in these 4 clips I have chopped up to support this case. Enjoy and discuss by posting comments below, I’d love to know what you think to these clips.

The Theory: watch here

The Wow Moment: watch here

The Risk: watch here

The Child’s Voice: watch here

One thought on “A theory about outdoor education from The Simpsons #ukedchat

  1. Thanks for your work on putting the clips together and your provocation about risk taking and learning outdoors. It’s a really interesting blog post.

    For me, being outside is so much more than risk taking. The risk taking element for me, is wrapped within bigger purposes, in particular, around fostering creativity. After all we would not have most of the big inventions, if those inventors were not up for experimenting and taking all sorts of risks.

    Within the concept of risks, there needs to be thought given to what are positive and negative consequences of any risk taking. Also it is important to remember that risks are varied such as financial, ethical and social as well as physical. Is financial risk taking affected by outdoor experiences? I really don’t know. Are all outdoor educators up for taking social risks such as giving presentations? I’ve no idea. I would very much hope that all educators – indoor and outdoor ones create enabling environments with a culture of experimentation and risk taking.

    I have concerns about the over-emphasis on risk and the outdoors. I would prefer that a wider lens is used because I think it can send out misinformed messages to children and others than the outdoors is “a more risky” place than indoors. So I tend to look at many issues from other perspectives. For example, picking and eating berries can be viewed from a sustainable and rights-based perspective just as easily as one that considers “the risk” involved.

    Finally, the answer to your friend is “yes”. I did take outdoor risks at school (entering the forbidden graveyard at lunch times, messing about near a steep drop to a river, etc), and indoor ones too (e.g. climbing up the rope in the gym hall, sticking my tongue out at a teacher when I though she wasn’t looking…)

    Best wishes
    Juliet@Creative STAR
    http://creativestarlearning.blogspot.co.uk (I’m a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!)

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