Teachers and policymakers(决策者) see advantages of education beyond the classroom for children, from fitness(健康) to resilience(心理韧性).
On a bright spring morning, the air is crisp(新鲜的/爽快的) as an apple and the children of Lauriston Castle forest kindergarten are inventing muddy meals at their imaginary(虚构的/想象出来的) cafe. This woodland, north-west of Edinburgh city centre, has become an outdoor classroom for the day, with waterproofs(防水布) and lunch boxes(午饭盒) clustered(簇拥/堆积) around the lower branches of the trees.
A black labrador liberates himself from(解放) his owner and charges(冲) through the sunny glade(洒满阳光的林中空地), to the youngsters’ delight(让某人高兴). But unexpected connections are all part of outdoor learning(户外学习), as early-years officer Amanda Patrick explained. “We might pick up pine cones(摘松果) in the morning, and talk about what they are and what we could do with them. Then they make owls with the cones, so we read a story about owls and then learn a big word, ‘nocturnal(夜间活动的)’.
“In the classroom the kids ask permission to(请求允许) do this or that,” said Patrick, “but outside they are much more creative and don’t need an adult to lead them. This is what early-years education should be, child-centred(以孩子为中心的) and child-led(孩子导向型的).”
Educators and policymakers across the political spectrum are increasingly convinced(说服) by the growing heft(分量) of evidence about the exponentially(极其/显著) positive impact of learning outdoors on everything from eyesight(视力) to risk assessment(风险评估) to resilience(心理韧性). There is particular focus on outdoor, play-based learning(寓教于乐) for early years, with the entire shortlist for the UK’s best nursery(托儿所/幼儿园) at last years’ Nursery World Awards made up of outdoor operations.
In Scotland, this conviction(信念) is also propelled by practicalities(实践性). Two years ago, a study of 38 nations ranked Scotland joint last(并列倒数) for physical activity, while childhood obesity levels(儿童肥胖率) continue to rise, with a quarter of five-year-olds deemed to(被看作是) be at risk. As well as schoolchildren’s Daily Mile, a scheme pioneered(倡导) by a primary school in Stirling, the chief medical officer recommends three hours of activity a day for under-fives(5岁以下的人), and outdoor experience is already a part of Scotland’s “curriculum(课程) for excellence”.
Meanwhile, a number of local authorities(地方政府) are making ambitious moves to expand outdoor learning as part of their plans to meet the Scottish government’s commitment(承诺) to a near-doubling of funded childcare by 2020, providing 1,140 hours a year for all three- and four-year-olds and eligible(符合标准的) two-year-olds. This February, the children’s minister, Maree Todd, announced funding of more than £850,000 to explore how to embed outdoor learning in(将......整合入) this expansion, pledging to(誓将) make it “a defining feature(独特的特征) of childhood in Scotland”.