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Should Outdoor Education Be a Compulsory School Subject?

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

In our ever-evolving world, the debate between the value placed on traditional academic subjects and the merits of outdoor learning continues to gain momentum. As we stand at the cusp of a new era in education, it's time to consider whether outdoor education should become a compulsory subject in schools. This shift is not a dismissal of traditional education, but rather an acknowledgment of the profound benefits that hands-on, nature-inspired learning can bring to our young learners.


Children participating in compulsory outdoor education lessons.
Should outdoor education be a compulsory in schools?

Compulsory Outdoor Education in Schools


Picture this: A classroom without walls, where the lush green of a forest serves as the backdrop to a lesson in biology. A group of students, wide-eyed and curious, gathers around a stream to explore the fascinating world of aquatic life. This is the essence of outdoor education, and it's a scene that holds the promise of a brighter future for our children.




I now believe more than ever that outdoor education should be a compulsory subject embedded into the school curriculum and my justifications are as follows:


1. Learning Beyond Textbooks


Academic subjects undoubtedly have their place, but the great outdoors offers a different kind of education. It's a place where history isn't just a list of dates; it's the story of the land you walk upon. Science isn't just a set of equations; it's the intricate web of life in the natural world.


2. Building Critical Life Skills


Outdoor education instills skills that are vital for life beyond the classroom. Leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and resilience are all honed in the crucible of outdoor challenges. These qualities are the building blocks of success in any endeavour.


3. Fostering a Love for Nature


As our world faces unprecedented environmental challenges, instilling a deep love and respect for nature in our youth is essential. When students have the opportunity to connect with the outdoors, they become stewards of the environment, leading the charge for a sustainable future.


4. Promoting Physical and Mental Well-being


In an age of screens and sedentary lifestyles, outdoor education encourages physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, the mental health benefits of spending time in nature are well-documented, reducing stress and promoting emotional well-being.


5. Cultivating Curiosity


There's something magical about exploring the natural world. Outdoor education sparks curiosity in students, encouraging them to ask questions, seek answers, and become lifelong learners.


Now is the Time to Embrace Outdoor Education


While the merits of traditional academics are undeniable, it's time to embrace a more holistic approach to education. The inclusion of outdoor education as a compulsory subject can strike a harmonious balance between the classroom and the natural world. It's about preparing our youth not just for exams but for life itself.


As we stand at the cusp of a new era in education, it's time to consider whether outdoor education should become a compulsory subject in schools. This shift is not a dismissal of traditional education, but rather an acknowledgment of the profound benefits that hands-on, nature-inspired learning can bring to our young learners.

Children participating in a beach clean to help take care of the local environment
Environmental service can take place anywhere including the school grounds, local park or local beach

Imagine a generation of students who not only excel in mathematics and science but also possess the skills, knowledge, and passion to address the challenges of our time. By making outdoor education compulsory, we can nurture well-rounded individuals who are not only academically proficient but also environmentally conscious, physically active, and socially adept. And the best part is outdoor learning doesn't need to be expensive. It can take place within any suitable outdoor space including your school grounds, local park or local nature reserve. Sustainability begins at home and exploring nature and supporting local wildlife should always be the highest priority. Even with the best in intentions, costly overseas trips, such as trekking to Mt. Everest Basecamp or saving turtles in Costa Rica can cause more harm than good when you factor in the environmental costs of international travel and tourism.


I believe the time has come to recognise the incredible value of outdoor education as a compulsory subject in our schools. Let's empower our youth with the tools they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world, and in doing so, let's foster a deeper connection between our future generations and the natural world. With optimism and enthusiasm, we can embark on this journey towards a brighter, more balanced educational landscape, one that celebrates the classroom under the open sky.

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