Faktencheck #53: Was bringt Unterricht outdoors?

Zwei Vorbemerkungen: (1) Das hier ist speziell für meine Freundinnen und Freunde in der Montessorischule Dachau, die mit den Kindern von Grund- bis Oberstufe Gemüse pflanzen, Bienenstöcke versorgen und regelmäßige Waldtage durchführen – ich finde das toll! (2) Ich zögere mit der Kategorie „Faktencheck“, weil die Untersuchung zwar methodisch wissenschaftlichen Ansprüchen genügt, aber nur drei Primarschulen mit 10 Schülergruppen, deren 10 Lehrer- und drei SchulleiterInnen umfasst. In Wales.


Marchant, E., Todd, C., Cooksey, R., Dredge, S., Jones, H., Reynolds, D., Stratton, G., Dwyer, R., Lyons, R. & Brophy, S. (2019). Curriculum-based outdoor learning for children aged 9-11: A qualitative analysis of pupils‘ and teachers‘ views. PloS one 14 (5), e0212242. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212242


Zusammenfassung für eilige Leser

Die Interviews mit den Beteiligten ergaben zahlreiche positive Wirkungen für die Schüler und die Schulen:

  • die Schülerinnen und Schüler (SuS) zeigten mehr Engagement fürs Lernen, eine gesteigerte Konzentration und besseres Verhalten;
  • die Lehrerinnen und Lehrer (LuL; [die Abk. hab ich mir grade ausgedacht]) zeigten eine größere Berufszufriedenheit;
  • bei der Umsetzung gab es Reibungen mit den Anforderungen der Lehrpläne, den zu schreibenden Tests und der Feststellung von Lernfortschritten;
  • hinzu kamen die zu beachtenden Sicherheitsaspekte, die Klärung von Ressourcen und die Zweifel macher LuL.

Die Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer (TuT, [eigentlich; aber man kann´s auch übertreiben]) befürworteten die Einbeziehung von outdoor-Unterricht in das Curriculum. Allerdings müssten dann die Inspektionen der Schulaufsicht größeren Wert auf die Möglichkeiten eines solchen Ansatzes legen, was derzeit nicht der Fall sei.

Einzelheiten aus der Studie

Ich habe einige Punkte ausgewählt, die mir interessant erscheinen. Der Artikel enthält darüber hinaus noch Vieles, das erwähnt werden müsste. Aber dazu bitte selber lesen.

Erfahrungen mit outdoor-Projekten in Südwest-England

Aufs Ganze gesehen, wurden in den untersuchten Schulen ähnliche Effekte beoachtet wie in einem Großprojekt in Südwestengland, an dem 125 Schulen beteiligt waren.

The Natural Connections project, delivered in 125 schools across southwest England demonstrated a positive impact of learning in the natural environment on pupils’ enjoyment of lessons, connection to nature, social skills, engagement with learning, health and wellbeing, behaviour and attainment. Indeed, there is a large body of literature highlighting the benefits to exposure with the natural environment and outdoor learning on children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health. (Marchant et al. 2019, S. 2)

Einzelergebnisse & Zitate

Die Beobachtungen werden im Folgenden mit ein paar Zitaten aus den Interviews gewürzt, denen man den O-Ton noch anhört.

Expectations and experience of outdoor learning

Feeling free

Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, tauschen die SuS den Aufenthalt in der Natur gern mit den räumlich und disziplinarisch engen Klassenzimmern.

At baseline, pupils believed that outdoor learning would provide an escape from the uncomfortable and restricted conditions ofthe classroom.

“And when we’re outside, like we get the fresh air, on a hot day if we’re in class we’re just boiling we won’t do as much work and we won’t do it as good”. (Pupil, School B, Follow up) (S. 6)

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(c) Pixabay

Exposure to environment and safety

Die SuS merken, dass das Lernen draußen bereichernd, aber auch mal schmerzhaft sein kann.

Pupils suggested that the addition of outdoor learning to the curriculum would increase their exposure to the environment and their engagement with nature, expanding their learning;

“You learn about the outside world, you notice things about nature you never knew and you do different topics”. (Pupil, School A, Baseline)

“You might hurt yourself on some bad things outside”. (Pupil, School A, Baseline) (S. 6)

Pupil engagement

Die Kultur in der Schule kommt ja nicht allen Kindern entgegen. Für die anderen ergeben sich in der Natur andere Möglichkeiten sich lernend zu zeigen.

Outdoor learning engaged pupils of all abilities including those with behavioural difficulties and additional learning needs;

“So there are children who sit there very, very still and know how to, who know how they should behave socially or, you know, institutionalised, you know, they’re happy to do that, write neat, those kind of things that fit all those parameters, but for those children who don’t. . .I think that it’s more suited to them. . .It gives them, you know, an outlet and so yeah, I do think it’s for those children who learn perhaps in different”. (Teacher, School A, Follow up) (S. 7)

Factors infuencing outdoor learning

Motivations

Hier sind es besonders SchulleiterInnen und Schulleiter, die erkennen, dass Kinder auch kindgerecht aufwachsen und Erfahrungen in der Natur machen müssen, was gegenwärtig nicht für jedes Kind selbstverständlich ist.

The implementation of outdoor learning was driven by headteachers and teachers’ motivations, including personal passion, passion of a colleague, pedagogical beliefs and a need to improve wellbeing outcomes. However, central to this subtheme was that of the rights of a child. Headteachers believed children had a right to be outdoors and that schools had a degree of responsibility in ensuring children were exposed to the outdoors in their learning;

“There’s far too much time where children aren’t playing outside, they aren’t walking outside, they aren’t just outside, and I think a lot of that, with increasing volumes of children accessing counselling, spending a lot of time on social media, spending a lot of time on Xbox, a lot of time watching TV, they just don’t know the impact being outside has on their health and their wellbeing, and I’m really committed to developing pupils‘ wellbeing”. (Headteacher, School B, Follow up) (S. 8–9)

Curriculum pressure and accountability

„Müssen wir das jetzt auch noch machen?!“ Es ist ja nicht nur die zusätzliche Arbeit, die LuL zu schaffen macht, sondern sie paart sich auch mit der Frage, ob ein outdoor-Unterricht überhaupt etwas bringt. Und wie soll man welche Lernergebnisse nachweisen?

The baseline interviews with teachers conveyed a feeling of overburden with some feeling that outdoor learning was an added pressure enforced by senior management at a time of high focus on academic literacy and numeracy targets;

Despite teachers generally feeling positive about outdoor learning, the academic pressures relating to evidencing work was at odds with the concept of teaching outdoors. This was particularly due to these teachers being responsible for a key stage that includes additional pressure and testing;

“Like the main concern for us, obviously, upper key stage 2 is obviously evidence of work, because there’s such a pressure now to have evidence, recorded evidence for every session or something in box, there’s a big pressure in that. . .Again, lots of activities don’t provide evidence, so, it’s difficult then to gauge the amount of learning that they’ve done, apart from the bit of feedback basically”. (Teacher, School B, Baseline) (S. 9)

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(c) Pixabay

Natural resources

Glücklich die Schulen, die es nicht weit in die Natur haben. Aber was ist mit den anderen?

The schools included in this study had varied access to local natural environments, and this was acknowledged with reference to the types oflessons that were suited to this;

“We’ve got access to the woodland area. We’re in a, you know, a really good spot that we can use, you know, we can use a lot more ofit, it’s not just going outside, going into the yard, we can use the woodland which is great, you know, for Science, Geography-type lessons as well”. (Teacher, School B, Baseline)

One headteacher highlighted that schools in a less fortunate position in terms of outdoor opportunities may struggle;

“In [city] lots ofschools have aspirations to develop outdoor learning, but different schools have different challenges and different opportunities, isn’t it, other schools, perhaps who are in the middle of[city], number one, they don’t have woodland on their doorstep, so their opportunities to visit woodland would be limited”. (Headteacher, School C, Follow up) (S. 9–10)

Physical resources

Die Fragen lassen sich vielleicht so auf einen Nenner bringen: „Können wir das, was wir im Studium gelernt und bisher in der Schule gemacht haben, auch draußen machen? Oder müssen wir komplett umlernen? Müssen wir unsere Unterrichtsmaterialien mit raus nehmen?“

In addition to the natural resources, the physical resources and time required to prepare new resources for outdoor learning were raised, with one teacher expressing their concerns over the transferability of traditional classroom lessons into the outdoor environment;

“Well because we don’t teach outdoors. We teach in the classroom, the things we do in the classroom, the resources we use are in the classroom and now we’ve got to, you either try and transfer those activities to an outdoor environment which is more challenging because of the resources, you know, the resources not being there”. (Teacher, School A, Baseline) (S. 10)

Support

Lernen ist doch das, was passiert, wenn man in der Schule sitzt, oder?! Wem ist diese Auffassung noch nicht begegnet? Gut, wenn man die Eltern (und die Schulaufsicht) auf seiner Seite hat!

The level of school, governor and parent support was highlighted by teachers and headteachers as an important factor. School B commented on the parental support throughout and how despite some initial concern and beliefs, general feedback and support from parents was positive;

“I did think we’d have a little bit of resistance at the beginning, because some parents believe children only learn by sitting at a desk, and indeed one grandparent did write on our Twitter account that, „A pity the children weren’t sitting at desks writing“. . .So, yes, the parents are very positive about the direction that we’re going”. (Headteacher, School B, Follow up) (S. 11)

Teacher influence

Es ist nicht überraschend, dass die LuL unterschiedlich zuversichtlich auf die neuen Erfahrungen zugehen.

Both pupils and teachers made links between the personality of a teacher and their enthusiasm with delivering outdoor learning. At baseline, teachers had mixed opinions of both their own and their colleagues’ confidence to deliver outdoor learning. Some felt a lack of knowledge left them in a position of low confidence, whilst others felt more confident in their ability to adapt lessons to the outdoor environment;

“As I say not at the moment, not personally. . .If I knew what I was doing yes but it’s coming up with the ideas in the first place, so I guess not”. (Teacher, School A, Baseline)

“I think it’s brilliant, I feel confident that I can do it, I feel enthusiastic about it, I think it’s great for children to be given that freedom of being outside, and doing something which is going to help their learning, just because I think children find it difficult to be stuck behind a desk for so much of the time”. (Teacher, School A, Baseline) (S. 12)

Perceived impact on learning & development

Behaviour

Die SuS machen Erfahrungen mit sich selbst und ihresgleichen und können erkennen, dass manche Mitschüler draußen eher ausflippen und andere zur Ruhe kommen.

There were mixed responses regarding the perceived impact on pupils’ behaviour. Those that believed it would have a negative effect at baseline made particular reference to the excitement of outdoor learning fuelling disruptive behaviour;

“If we were out, maybe like more start being hyper, because in class we probably have got discipline, once we start getting out and it’ll be exciting”. (Pupil, School B, Baseline)

In comparison, other pupils felt that outdoor learning could improve behaviour through increased access to space;

“I think it’ll change our [behaviour], like if we do once or twice a week, then it would change our behaviour in a way, inside school like, so outside we’re not like fidgety, if we’re outside, it’s better”. (Pupil, School B, Baseline) (S. 13)

Concentration and memory

Die SuS berichten positive Effekte auf Konzentration und Gedächtnis; zuweilen mit interessanten Begründungen.

Pupils suggested at baseline that the introduction of outdoor learning within their school day would have an impact on their concentration and memory. From a positive perspective, this was discussed in relation to the feelings of comfort experienced by pupils;

“Yes, because when you’re outside you’re not all sweaty and you like can’t really concentrate that much when you’re like really sweaty but if you’re like outside you’re like nice and cool so it’ll help you listen better and concentrate better”. (Pupil, School B, Baseline) (S. 14)

Key skills development

„Schlüsselqualifikationen“ – das war und ist in unseren (bayerischen) Schulen immer noch ein buzz word. Nach den Wahrnehmungen von SuS und LuL wird outdoors vor allem die Teamfähigkeit geschult.

Pupils and teachers discussed the range of skills that they could develop through engagement with outdoor learning, including communication and teamwork;

“I think that like it makes us like learn how to work as a team”. (Pupil, School C, Follow up)

“They were much more able to collaborate outside as it’s kind of freedom of the class, they might work in different groups and, you know, you’re not expecting them, they share more easily”. (Teacher, School A, Follow up) (S. 15)

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(c) Pixabay

Health and wellbeing

Kurz und gut: Draußen sein ist gesünder.

During the interviews, there was a feeling among pupils that an increase in utilisation of the outdoors would help to increase physical activity and fitness. Outdoor learning was seen as a means of providing an opportunity to reduce sedentary time associated with traditional classroom based lessons:

“Without going outside you can’t really keep fit and like indoors we’re pretty much just sitting down at a desk writing”. (Pupil, School B, Follow up) (S. 15)

Gesamtbetrachtung

Positive Folgen des outdoor-Unterrichts werden in zahlreichen Studien bestätigt.

The overall positive and enjoyable experience of outdoor learning reported by children in this study is echoed by a high number of studies reporting children’s experience of the outdoors. Pupils described how outdoor learning provided them with feelings of freedom and fun and discussed this in relation to an escape from the restricted, physical environment of the classroom. This also provided the opportunity for pupils to engage in and learn through play. This sense of freedom is reinforced in some ofthe earlier literature on outdoor learning, in which one of the main advantages of using the outdoor environment was the ability for children to learn through moving freely and play. This freedom of the outdoors also provides children with important multisensory experiences that contributes towards improvements in motor development and motor and sensory stimulation. (S. 16–17)

Neugier und erhöhtes Engagement

Pupils and teachers in this study commented on increased engagement with learning in the outdoors and overall school engagement. Research has demonstrated the ability of the natural environment to promote a desire to learn and a positive relationship between learning and school motivation. Teachers in our study suggested pupils’ learning was facilitated through the experiential pedagogy of outdoor learning. Greater pupil engagement is reinforced in the literature in relation to experiential learning and the different pedagogy of outdoor learning, such as less confined outdoor spaces and outdoor resources. (S. 17)

Kinder haben das Menschenrecht auf eine natürliche (Lern-)Umgebung

The notion felt by headteachers in this study that children have the right to be outdoors is supported by others. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) movement within schools has improved the understanding and application of children’s rights in recent years. Teachers also felt that children have lost access to outdoor play environments. Indeed, the number of children participating in unstructured, outdoor play is decreasing and opportunities to access the natural environment are diminishing. With this in mind, outdoor play through outdoor learning may be one of the only opportunities children have to experience the natural environment. (S. 17)

Fazit

The schools in this study reported a variety of benefits of outdoor learning for both the child and the teacher and for improving health, wellbeing, education and engagement in school. Findings highlight that outdoor learning has the ability to enthuse, engage and support children of all learning abilities in reaching curricular aims alongside positive improvements to health and wellbeing. With the relationship between education and health well documented throughout the life course, this study supports outdoor learning as a method of facilitating pupils in achieving their academic potential, improving educational experiences and attainment and ultimately improving future health outcomes and employment pathways. (S. 20, Hervorhebungen von mir)

Literatur

Marchant, E., Todd, C., Cooksey, R., Dredge, S., Jones, H., Reynolds, D., Stratton, G., Dwyer, R., Lyons, R. & Brophy, S. (2019). Curriculum-based outdoor learning for children aged 9-11: A qualitative analysis of pupils‘ and teachers‘ views. PloS one 14 (5), e0212242. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212242

Hier der Link zum Selberlesen.

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