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Catching character outdoors

Monday, 22 June 2015 12:09
Lauren Weller, Farming and Countryside Education

Find out how experiences of learning outside the classroom are particularly well suited to developing character traits such as curiosity and resilience in your students.

Earlier this year the Department for Education launched the first ever Character Awards to recognise the achievements of schools and organisations in developing character education. This shows just how important the concept of character education has become; though some might argue that developing their students’ confidence, motivation and honesty have always been part of the teacher’s role, it is only recently that it has been so explicitly recognised.

Character is something that is often said to be caught rather than taught from the values and behaviours that are modelled and encouraged across the school. That being said, experiences of learning outside the classroom are particularly well suited to developing students’ character, as the following examples demonstrate:

Resilience

Learning outside puts students into unfamiliar situations, which in some cases may cause them to feel uncertain. For example, some young people may be initially intimidated by encountering livestock on the farm, but by facing and overcoming this challenge become more resilient.

Drive and ambition

The countryside isn’t an empty space populated only by plants and wildlife - it is a vital economy featuring a variety of thriving business and careers, many of which will be completely unfamiliar to your students. Having the opportunity to meet role models and talk about their life and work can develop students’ aspirations for their own career.

Respect

Visiting any rural area, whether it is a working environment or a beauty spot, is an opportunity to learn respect for the diverse flora and fauna we share this space with. A farm is an ideal place to find out about the positive and negative impacts of human activity and how important it is to respect and work with the natural environment.

Curiosity

It is well documented that in our modern society young people are increasingly unlikely or unable to connect the food available on the supermarket shelves with the patchwork of fields in the countryside. A farm visit is an opportunity for students to ask and answer questions about where their food comes from, both stimulating and satisfying their curiosity.

Confidence

Learning outside the classroom is a great equalizer; in a setting that is new to everyone, anyone can excel regardless of how they usually perform inside. Students who are usually quiet or reluctant to contribute in class have the opportunity to thrive and become increasingly independent during an outdoor visit.

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Lauren Weller, Farming and Countryside Education
Our range of expertise covers farming, food and the countryside across the full range of ages and curriculum subjects. We are particularly keen to help schools access real working farms where science, maths, literacy, cooking and nutrition, enterprise and more can be learnt in a dynamic real-world context. We also...    Read More
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