Education and Character building in the outdoors

     Bit of a quite week here in Killary although we did have one brave school in from Wexford for 3 days last week.  It is interesting to note that rather than the normal Transition year students they were in fact 2nd years.  The teacher in charge Paul was an interesting man and after going out for a paddle in gale force conditions I invited him into the house for a chat.  What we ended up talking about was the benefits of bringing young  students away for a trip like this.  His point was that at this young age they are more able to express themselves, before society has a chance to take their innocence away.  They will not complain if it is raining and they are up for anything.  Their attitude is different to the transition year students who  are more influenced by how they should look and what everyone else sees.

                This got me more into exploring the links between the outdoors and education.  On research I was lead to a couple of examples, the first of which was Prince Charles old school Gordonstoun , this is an example of the combination of academic schooling, sporting experiences and  community involvement.  Now I understand that they have a bit more money in this sort of a school but they take their students out sailing, kayaking and climbing as part of their organised education. This teaches them the beauty of their natural surroundings and also an appreciation of what they can achieve in different walks of life.  Obviously the academic side of it is vitally important but it needs balance, the community side is expressed in their volunteering in stuff like the RNLI and the fire brigade.  All this fosters a sense of community which I would imagine stays with them after school, school years mould us into the people we become.

                The other example and something that I thought was relevant to us was the way that Sweden goes about educating their children.  A huge emphasis is put into taking children outside of the classroom and expanding their minds. The Swedish education system is considered one of the best in the world both from an educational sense and from the result of a country that is one of the most democratic in the world.

                If you are interested in this then you might want to look into the teachings of Kurt Hahn and his philosophies in the Outward Bound school or NOLS in the US.  Both of these use the idea that a persons character is improved by taking them out of their comfort zone in the outdoors and the subsequent life teachings that they get.

Thats all for this Wednesday morning.

Shane

@killarygroup with any questions

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