How you can make the most of Planet Ark's new research into outdoor learning
Author: Claire Bell
A new report from Planet Ark examines how prepared the next generation is to tackle the biggest future challenges facing humanity. Find out what 200 surveyed teachers said were the top skills kids needed for the future.
The Learning from Trees: Life Lessons for Future Generations report, commissioned by Planet Ark and sponsored by Toyota Australia, is being released in the lead up to National Tree Day (Sunday 30 July 2017). The report examines how prepared the next generation is to tackle the biggest global challenges facing humanity. These challenges have been defined by the United Nations, with climate change the most concerning challenge overall.
The research is accompanied by a video made with award-winning nature photographer and naturalist, Steve Parish OAM, on how nature teaches us three skills kids need most in the age of climate change.
The report presents the results of a snapshot survey of 200 Australian teachers (100 primary, 100 secondary) and what they identified as the most crucial skills students need for the future. Teachers were asked to rank the following skills and attributes in order of importance: STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); problem solving and critical thinking; creativity and innovation; compassion; ‘grit’ (determination, resilience and perseverance); emotional intelligence and trade skills. The report also includes research from Australia and overseas that demonstrates how the crucial skills identified can be developed through outdoor learning and nature time.
The results show:
- 60% of teachers ranked critical thinking and problem solving, grit and resilience and emotional intelligence as the most important skills for the future. These same skills were identified as students’ weakest, with grit being the weakest overall.
- Only 4% of surveyed teachers considered STEM skills in the top three most needed skills.
- Less than 34% of Australian teachers taught outdoors for 15 minutes or more in a 10-week Term (excluding lunch, recess and physical education).
- Only 4% of teachers surveyed considered outdoor learning as most important for fostering inspiration, creativity and problem solving.
- Research shows outdoor learning helps grow problem solving, grit, emotional intelligence and key educational outcomes, both during and outside of school hours.
- Nature ignites passion, inspiration, creativity and purpose and plays an important role in the cognitive, emotional and physical development of children.
- Outdoor learning was added to the Australian Curriculum in 2015
Kirrilie Smout, clinical psychologist and Director of Developing Minds Psychology and Education, who has worked with kids and teens for 20 years, agrees the key skills identified by teachers are vital.
According to Smout: “Future generations will need to persist through hardships and set-backs, and successful problem solving requires concentration and grit. We will need to work together and establish positive relationships, so emotional intelligence and communication skills will be key. This is the job of parents and carers, schools and teachers, and society as a whole. Children with these skills (problem solving, grit and emotional intelligence) will be happier, healthier and more successful.”
Australian research conducted by Dr Amanda Lloyd, Director of Outdoor Connections and a leader in the field of outdoor learning, shows students who take part in outdoor learning programs continue to perform well academically, but they also learn problem solving, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and resilience. Further research says 77% of teachers reported improvement in standardised test results, and exposure to natural environments reduces stress, enhances concentration and creativity and increases productivity.
In many western countries, learning outdoors is no longer considered a peripheral activity because of its widely accepted benefits. In Finland, primary school children must spend 15 minutes every hour outdoors, whatever the weather. Researchers identify outdoor learning as an important element in Finland’s successful development of the best primary school system in the world, as rated by international benchmarks.
- Get outside as a whole family, bike riding, bushwalking, eating meals or doing homework outdoors.
- Join organised community outdoor activities such as Guides or Scouts, or events such as National Tree Day http://treeday.planetark.org/involved/
- Check out over 150 curriculum-aligned lessons for National Tree Day developed by Cool Australia for teachers.
Subscribe to Positive Environment News
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Claire is Planet Ark's Recycling Campaign Manager. After working in the communications industry and raising a young family, she joined Planet Ark to follow her passion for helping the environment.
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Planting trees for National Tree Day and beyond »
- Ecosystem restoration led by a paper company is improving Sumatra’s biodiversity »
- Looking for ways to fight climate change? Plant trees »
- The Indian engineer reviving lakes in the state of Uttar Pradesh »
- International environmental agency committed to conservation in Australia »
- Mr Titmarsh and the Magna Carta mangrove »
- A 'dose' of nature to cure your ailments »
- The disaster zone turned wildlife haven »
- "Blue belt" expansion establishes UK as global leader in marine conservation »
- Philippine students graduating with a green thumb »
- New campaign to green the globe with millions of trees »
- Australian volunteers enlisted for war on microplastic pollution »
- The revegetation plan to bring back the glossy black cockatoo »
- The world's highest emu bob clean-up »
- The revival pack for tired bees »
- West Papua becomes Indonesia's first conservation province »
- Technology leading the fight against invasive rubber vine »
- The world is greener than it was 20 years ago »
- Australian councils investing in Seabins to clean our waters »
- British carnivore numbers on the rise after approaching extinction »
- Hawaiian coral reefs showing positive signs following mass bleaching »
- The new buzz around solar farms »
- New tree cover bringing back the rain in Cambodia »
- Scientists crack the cane toad genome »
- Deforestation in Indonesia on the decline »
- $10 billion pledged to protecting global marine environment »
- Sharks returning to flourishing Maya Bay following tourist ban »
- Tiny bird's big breeding effort saves it from extinction in South Australia »
- Pakistan hits billion trees goal ahead of schedule »
- International community approaching nature refuge goals »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - The habit of walking »
- Researchers encouraged by cleanliness of Ningaloo Reef »
- Serranía de Chiribiquete becomes the world's largest tropical rainforest national park »
- The funniest wildlife photos of 2018 »
- Mountain gorilla numbers on the rise in Virunga »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Bringing in the green »
- Ethiopian community showing potential of revegetation »
- Our Schools Tree Day and National Tree Day »
- Secret Mozambique rainforest piques scientific interest »
- Disused and dirty swamp transformed into vibrant wetlands in the heart of suburbia »
- Threatened koalas receive NSW rescue package »
- Super coral to resist ocean warming »
- Beach cleanup leads to turtle comeback »
- The bush stone-curlews are back in town »
- Dutch scientists developing smart app to measure water pollution »
- Italian sheepdogs become little penguin protectors »
- Indigenous women helping to conserve glowing turtles »
- A year in review - Australian natives made some great comebacks in 2017 »
- Vast new ocean reserve created off coast of Mexico »
- Reconnaissance to protect the Great Barrier Reef »
- Koalas found in national park after decades of absence »
- The calming effect of contact with nature »
- World's largest trees given new hope for preservation »
- Nearly 400 new species discovered in the Amazon »
- Brush-tailed phascogale makes a surprise appearance on revegetated islands »
- Decades of community action brings a disappearing frogmouth back from the brink »
- Back from the brink: recent 'baby boom' offers new hope for endangered southern right whale »
- Picky plants: Growing green in difficult environments »
- How indoor plants can give city-slickers a literal breath of fresh air »
- Island sanctuary brings hope to dwindling quokka population »
- 1.5 million people, 12 hours, 66 million trees: India's commitment to The Paris Agreement »
- The little Brown Antechinus makes a comeback at Sydney's North Head »
- Capturing Carbon to Tackle Climate Change »
- Futureproofing the Lockyer Valley with 20'000 trees »
- Dugong Numbers on the Rise Again in the Great Barrier Reef »
- Answering the Call to Connect With Nature »
- Scientist Discover Massive New Forests »
- 'Creature Compost' - Zoo Reduces Landfill and Generates Income »
- Travel Companies Put Kindness Before Profit in Animal Tourism »
- Thousands of Birds Descend Upon Inland Lakes »
- Trees Help Beat Urban Heat »
- Chile's National Parks Expand by 10 Million Acres »
- Old Televisions Converted to Bee Hotels »
- What if Rivers Could Sue? »
- Access to Nature Should be a Human Right - Report »
- Rock-Wallabies Fighting Back »
- Scientists Use Tasmanian Devil's Immune System to Beat Cancer »
- New Coral Reef Rewrites Textbooks »
- Launch of Positive Environment News »