Outdoor education

Tagged with:

  • Outdoor education
  • Hauora
  • Socio-ecological perspective
  • Attitudes and values
  • Health promotion
  • Healthy Communities and Environments
  • Personal health and physical development

Outdoor education is an aspect of education outside the classroom (EOTC) and aims to extend the four walls of the classroom.

A smiling boy and harakeke.

What is outdoor education?

Programmes in outdoor education are important for reconnecting increasingly urbanised and digitally focused ākonga with nature and their local environment. Through learning in outdoor education, ākonga can explore concepts such as manaakitanga (care and responsibility), kaitiakitanga (guardianship), whakawhanaungatanga (social connections), ārahitanga (leadership), and kotahitanga (unity and cooperation).

Outdoor education includes learning skills in specific outdoor activities, such as sea kayaking and tramping. It also includes developing an appreciation of the local area, learning the stories, and how the environment is connected to where they live. Outdoor activities foster the personal and social development of ākonga through experiences involving:

  • co-operation
  • trust
  • problem solving
  • decision making
  • goal setting
  • communication
  • leadership
  • responsibility
  • reflection.

Developing your local outdoor education curriculum

When developing outdoor education programmes, schools should:

  • create opportunities for ākonga to connect with the land, and to explore local stories and important places
  • take a ‘place-based’ approach rather than a ‘challenge-based’ approach
  • emphasise safe and sensible enjoyment of outdoor environments
  • make use of the school grounds and the immediate local environment
  • take opportunities for direct experiences that can be completed in a school day.

The underlying concepts and outdoor education

The underlying concepts are woven through learning in this area in the following ways:

A header for Hauora containing the hauora icon; a wharenui

In outdoor education programmes, the four dimensions of hauora are enhanced through safe, challenging, and enjoyable learning experiences in the outdoor environment.

A header for attitudes and values containing the attitudes and values icon; two people hongi – one Māori and the other Pākehā

Attitudes and values developed through outdoor education include:

  • a sense of fun and enjoyment
  • the value of personal and interpersonal skills
  • an appreciation of the traditions, values, and heritages of tangata whenua and other cultural groups
  • understanding of the environmental impact of outdoor recreation activities
  • care for the environment and the whenua
  • constructive attitudes to personal and group safety, challenge, and risk
  • the value of local environments to communities and groups.
A header for the socio-ecological perspective containing the socio-ecological perspective icon; three people in a group surrounded by a circle

Through the socio-ecological perspective, ākonga will investigate the importance of the outdoor environment and outdoor activities to the wellbeing of Aotearoa. They will critically examine social, cultural, scientific, technological, and economic influences on outdoor activities, on the environment, and on how the environment is used.

A header for Health Promotion containing the Health Promotion icon; three people holding a sign with a heart and plus symbol

The enhancement of health promotion through outdoor education requires school-wide policies and procedures to ensure that appropriate activities, safe practices, and the most suitable community resources are selected, used, and evaluated.

Outdoor education programmes must follow safe practices and meet legal requirements.