This paper considers the recent growth in different kinds of learning outside the classroom, especially Forest Schools. It shows how the activities associated with Forest Schools often involve mainstream curriculum content delivered in outdoor settings, with a focus on developing skills and attitudes that can be utilised when back in the classroom. Drawing on the works of Henry David Thoreau and Anna (Nan) Shepherd, we suggest that there is an important distinction to be made between an education in the outdoors, and an education of the outdoors. Through a close reading of ‘Walden’ and ‘The Living Mountain’, we argue that both works provide perspectives on being in the outdoors that offer rich educative possibilities. The paper suggests that an education of the outdoors is characterised by a form of attention that opens pupils to a different way of encountering and engaging with the world that is transformative.
- outdoor learning experiences
- outdoor education
- learning outside the classroom
- Forest school
- Outdoor education