Outdoor Classroom as practiced at the Orana Steiner School in Canberra, is part of a worldwide movement that seeks to re-connect participants with the particular environments they live in. The rationale for the movement is that only by being in the environment, using it and being shaped by the opportunities it presents for learning, can young people become ‘full citizens’ and custodians of the land.
At Orana we are producing the next generation of ecosystem advocates, by building ecosystem awareness into our teaching program. The outdoor classroom approach meshes well with Steiner Pedagogy, with its emphasis on ‘head, heart and hands’ and natural play as a pathway to knowledge and passion to protect and enhance ecosystem goods and services.
In practice, outdoor classroom brings together ‘hand skills’ such as basketry, blacksmithing, pokerwork, gardening and carving, with ‘head skills’ such as local animal , calendar-plant, food production and weed species identification. These strands are tied together and turned into deep action by the ‘heart skills’ of caring for country, and a long-term association with our beautiful 14 Ha bush site.
Outdoor classroom allows for serendipity and ‘teachable moments’ that would otherwise be lost in a more traditional classroom setting. Students learn to be adept at tool making and using, often while gathered around a fire. When combined with a deep knowledge and love for their local environment, students can stand proud in their little corner of the world and become active advocates for environmental protection in their communities and the world at large.
We work with the whole school staff to embed an outdoor classroom ethos into the school.