Is your Forest School real Outdoor Education?
The article was published in the Guardian a few days ago. Here are a few of my thoughts
A quick summary
The term Forest School is hugely popular now and the concepts has drifted away from it’s original Scandinavian ethos. Competitive and curriculum pressures (and perhaps lack of understanding) are making schools take advantage of the term.
My rapid fire thoughts
- ‘Forest School’ is very vague term so it’s not surprising it is interpreted in many different ways.
- Trying to commodify getting kids outdoors is hard.
- The marketing opportunities exist because it’s comparatively simple to get wonderful photos of pupils demonstrating schools core values.This makes it vulnerable to tokenism. It also provide wonderful opportunities for schools to do it genuinely, which always works better in the long run.
- The original ethos of Forest School involves a lot of self discovered and risk. Maybe our risk adverse society just can’t cope with forest school
- Teaching a lesson outdoors may not be Forest School but it’s still better than being indoors!
- Getting ‘the education system’ to understand enduring effects from outdoor education is a challenge.
- Maybe the enduring effect from the outdoors need to come from home & holiday times?
- Trips like ours, if not baked into an on going strategy could be described as a little tokenistic.
- Trips like ours combined with a ‘proper’ Forest Schools experience can be an absolute winner.
- Made me think we should give kids more free time in the mountains & forest in the Alps.
- Maybe we should rebrand as BeVenturesome Mountain School?
A few quotes that stood out
The authors of the book, themselves involved in forest schools, say the idea should be about discovery learning over an extended period, with children involved in meaningful and challenging activities. These should entail some risk – lighting fires, or learning to use knives, for example.
“The saddest comment I heard was by a headteacher who said ‘I can’t afford not to do it because every other school around me is doing it and it looks good on your website’,”
He conducted a study of forest school research and reports in his paper – A critique of forest school: Something lost in translation – that he found no reliable evidence that it improved pupils’ confidence and self esteem.