By Vandana Arora, Principal,
Nahar International School
Albert Einstein once rightly said: “Education is not the learning of facts, but training the mind to think.” These words are only more relevant today when the world is a place where young minds must constantly apply themselves to do something newer, create something more advanced, and tackle something unknown heretofore.
To be able to survive and thrive in a world that is hurtling into the future at the pace of light, children must be empowered with firstly, the awareness of the world around and secondly the mastery and tools to flourish in it.
It goes without saying that students must step out of the traditional physical boundaries of the classroom walls and find a more living, breathing education in the arms of the real world, one that works in tandem with their daily learning.
This perception is a pillar of my pedagogical ideology. And it is not just me, but every progressive educator who concurs with this belief. Hence, education today goes beyond the four walls.
Formal education is a thing of the past. It has become extremely important for kids to experience in person the knowledge they acquire in textbooks. This kind of education, more popularly known as outdoor education, not only facilitates the application of what is learnt in classrooms but also helps in the overall development of the child.
It can take place in a variety of environments: rural and urban, local and more remote. It must include skill-focused learning, problem solving, team building and self-reliant journeys and activities to develop strong social bonds through dynamic group activities, which allow students to become more productive learners once they return to the classroom, and to establish the non-academic skills they will need as workers and citizens.
This creates a whole new universe of learning, where the bounds of imagination are limitless, and each child explores ever expanding horizons. It encourages every curious mind to imbibe, absorb, contribute and create new ideas and lines of thinking. It contributes to personal growth and social awareness and develops skills for life and the world of work.
There is also a great deal of intrinsic enjoyment and satisfaction to be experienced from participation in outdoor learning. Through successfully facing up to the challenges which outdoor activities provide, overcoming fears and apprehensions along the way, young people make major strides in confidence, with implications for all aspects of their development.
Ideally, textbook curriculum should incorporate outdoor learning so as to enhance students’ understanding across English, Maths, Science and Geography. Children must be encouraged to discover and explore through experiential activities that are designed to make them think. For instance, language development can happen when kids interact with the people around to know about a historical place. Maths and geometrical aspects also come in play when the structure of a monument or a place is intercepted.
Participation in outdoor activities with teachers, youth workers and peers also contributes significantly to the general ethos of a school or youth group since trust, care, tolerance and the willingness to give and accept support are all encouraged and opportunities are presented to work co-operatively and effectively in teams.
What is most significant for me is that through exposure to the real world, children come to relish challenges rather than shun them. And it is my firm belief that this instills in growing minds the values and ideals which will help form the basis for sound and responsible citizenship in the future.