Friday, 13 June 2014

Empty Classroom Day

What is the best learning experience you've ever had?  Is there something in particular that springs to mind?  Or are there several experiences that you can think of, that really touched you and shaped you and made you the person you are today?

How many of those transformative learning experiences actually took place in a classroom?

Empty Classroom Day was set up by the London Sustainable Schools Forum to promote and celebrate outdoor learning. In recent years there's been growing concern that people are spending less and less time outdoors, yet we know that being outdoors is great for our health and well-being.  It is also often where the best learning takes place.  

Here are three of my own best learning experiences.

Age 10, I remember learning about erosion on a wet, windy cliff  in Wales, where we watched the sea raging up through a blowhole.

At age 11 my whole class was unimpressed when our summer outing was announced.  We were going to be visiting Aylesbury Mushroom Farm, which back then was an important employer in our local area.  We whinged and groaned at what we were sure would be a 'boring' trip.  But what came from that day was my most memorable summer outing ever.  I was fascinated about the growing cycle of the mushrooms and the stages of development from raw manure to perfect compost for the mushrooms. Then the used compost went onto the fields, to grow oats and corn to feed the pigs that produced the manure that grew the mushrooms.  No chemicals and no waste. A perfect circular economy.

Age 16, I remember pounding the pavements of Swansea mapping land use. I will never forget the 82 year old man who told me about the changes the area was going through.  He said he'd lived in the same house for his entire life.  Apart from the practicalities of how to conduct a land-use survey (the intended learning outcome, I assume) I learnt that day an important lesson about community that I think has served me well and continues to do so today.

In fact, though, outdoor learning doesn't have to involve windy cliff tops, coach trips and field study centres.  The school grounds, the nearest park or just the street right there in front of you can offer countless learning opportunities.  I like this Tree Crown investigation from outdoor  All you need is just one tree. For more ideas take a look at the London Sustainable Schools Forum ECD Resources page

Take one tree…just add students.

To take part in empty classroom day all you have to do is take just one lesson outside on 20th June.

Have you signed up yet?  You can do that right here:!/journal_entry/25498