Spotlight - The Great Outdoors

Spotlight Friday, 27 Oct 2017

At Faith, outdoor education from ELC to Year 12 forms as integral component of the development of the whole child. From cultivating self-reliance, interdependence, and leadership to managing personal risks and developing an awareness of the impact of human activity on our natural environment.

Parents are powerful role models for their children. So let me ask you a question. Do you know how much time you spend outside each day? We all concur it’s good for us, but do we make it a priority? Social scientists and genetic researchers acknowledge that many children are influenced by biological and environmental factors during their upbringing. Children end up becoming a ‘chip off the old block’ or ‘like mother like daughter’ so to speak. Spending time in the great outdoors each day whether it be for work or pleasure sets off a diverse range of benefits including mental clarity, lower levels of stress and anxiety and an overall sense of general health and wellbeing. But how can we expect our children to follow this path if we don’t set the example?

In 2017–18, just over 1 in 10 (11%) 15–17-year-olds were sufficiently active (including workplace activity) for their age, while just over 1 in 6 (16%) met the recommended muscle strengthening activity guidelines. Source Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

At the Junior School in Term 2, our Early Learning Centre (ELC) students and educators noticed the lack of thriving fruits, vegetables and herbs in our ELC garden. A successful application for a Woolworths Landcare grant awarded Faith $1000 to bring new life to the garden and capitalise on a real-life outdoor education learning opportunity. As part of the learning journey, students shared photos from home of their favourite part of their garden. Groups ventured into our local environment to notice what plants need to thrive. They also found seeds in their morning fruit snacks and enquired about what they looked like and how they would grow. Once students knew about plants, they ventured to the Barossa Nursery. Each group of students chose one plant that smelt beautiful, one plant they would like to eat and one plant that was lovely to look at. Today the ELC garden is adorned with purple carrots, broccoli, cabbage, chocolate mint, an apple tree, passionfruit daisies, marigolds and many more. The garden symbolises teamwork, a sense of responsibility, personal investment, and student agency.

At the Middle and Senior Campus Daniel Gogoll, Learning Area Coordinator of Individuals and Societies reinforces how Outdoor Education is a subject that also has the fantastic ability to cover several learning outcomes from other subjects such as Health and PE, Geography, History, Science, Mathematics, English and Art. He goes on to reference Outdoor Education Australia who describe Outdoor Education as being, ‘uniquely placed to address the general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities of the Australian Curriculum, in particular, personal and social capability, critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, Aboriginal perspectives of land and country and sustainability.

In Middle School, Outdoor Education programs are threaded through the curriculum, Faith’s Find Your Spark Elective Program, Camp program, extracurricular activities and College Clubs.

In the Senior School Faith also offers Outdoor Education as a SACE subject at Stage 1 and Stage 2. In Year 11 students participate in a 3-day kayaking and bushwalking program. Students reconnect with the environment and refocus on the ‘important’ things within their lives. The slower pace, and deliberate intent to connect, broaden their social understanding and connections with others.

These attributes are further developed in Stage 2 Outdoor Education in Year 12, with the intent to cultivate world-ready young adults who display a strong understanding of themselves, and who can lead, follow and work together. Without question, these are fundamental prerequisites for securing employment and being a positive contribution to society post-graduation.

Put simply, Outdoor Education is a way of life, more so than a classroom subject. It’s on our radar, and we hope it inspires you to put it on yours too.

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