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Mon Jun 22, 2020, 10:29 PM

Education Advocates Push For D.C. Schools To Have Outdoor Classrooms

Last edited Wed Jul 8, 2020, 07:54 PM - Edit history (2)

"Education advocates push for DC schools to have outdoor classrooms," By Delia Goncalves, WUSA9-TV, Washington, D.C., 2 hrs ago, June 22, 2020.

As D.C. school leaders are surveying parents about what they think the return to school plan should look like in the fall, advocates are offering an alternative: outdoor classrooms. According to medical experts, COVID-19 transmission decreases outdoors, making it a safer alternative to traditional indoor classrooms. “I know my kids are concerned about being in a confined four-wall space," parent Paige Ela said. "And going back to a series of zoom after zoom for a six and a 10-year-old is, you know, an exhausting idea.”

It was an unconventional interview, but the Potomac River was the perfect backdrop as Ela spoke to WUSA9’s Delia Gonçalves about outdoor classrooms and the healing aspects of nature aboard her family boat. “Specifically, after events of trauma -- and I think all of us have experienced that with COVID and Black Lives Matter events happening simultaneously -- there's a tremendous amount of research that suggests that getting out, breathing fresh air, seeing greenery is just really important to the healing process," Ela said.

Ela testified before the school board recently, offering up the alternative for the fall. The DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee has not announced a finalized plan, but according to a member of REOPEN D.C.’s Education Committee, Ferebee is leaning towards an extension of distance learning, alternating students each day, and socially distant classrooms of 10 students.




- (Video 2 mins). Some D.C. School Leaders Are Considering Outdoor Education. Denmark does it.

“It's really difficult for people to plan to go back to work under those circumstances,” Scott Goldstein of EmpowerED said. “So we want to think outside the box. The idea is that all of our students go back in a consistent way.” EmpowerEd started a petition for school leaders to consider outdoor education. Goldstein admits they don’t have all the answers, but he believes it addresses issues of access to technology and equity. “You can really have equity of access by using public parks, by using outdoor space, by closing streets around our schools to make sure that all schools have access to be able to use that,” Goldstein said...

More, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/education-advocates-push-for-dc-schools-to-have-outdoor-classrooms/ar-BB15QGJB
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*Forest Schools (learning style). Begun in Scandinavia, picked up in the UK in the last 25 years, spread to Europe, Canada and the U.S. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_school_(learning_style)

- Forest Schools, More Marketing Than Outdoor Education? The Guardian, 2019.
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jun/25/forest-schools-more-marketing-than-outdoor-education

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Reply Education Advocates Push For D.C. Schools To Have Outdoor Classrooms (Original post)
appalachiablue Jun 22 OP
PoindexterOglethorpe Jun 22 #1
appalachiablue Jun 23 #2
PoindexterOglethorpe Jun 23 #3
appalachiablue Jun 24 #4

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Mon Jun 22, 2020, 11:50 PM

1. DC is hardly San Diego.

In the summer it's too fucking hot to consider having classes outside. Winters can be pretty miserable. So, classes for three months in the spring and three months in the fall?

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 23, 2020, 05:41 AM

2. Denmark isn't San Diego either, and they have

Last edited Tue Jun 23, 2020, 06:45 AM - Edit history (2)

successful outdoor classes and schools. So can DC, which is north of San Francisco. Many interesting parks, waterways and other places ideal for outdoor learning exist in the national capital area. School administrators make adjustments for harsh weather, serious student health problems and other adverse factors.

For thousands of years humans have survived in and around nature, including animals, without modern conveniences. My grandfather at age 16 was a schoolteacher in a semi- rural one room school- no A/C, maybe a woodstove and students truly did walk for miles to attend in order to get an education.

Societies need to understand the resilience and intellectually curious nature of kids when exposed to new learning environments. Many adults in advanced societies work all day in sedentary, stressful and stifling office positions in settings remote from nature (like I did) with dependence on computer screens, steady air conditioning and heat, hardly seeing the light of day. But more and more detrimental office work environments are being recognized and things are slowly changing, faster in some areas and professions than others.
~ In Norway and Scandi after work some people go walking, skiing and partake in other outdoor activities- creating a healthy lifestyle balance.

There are plenty of occupations in D.C. like other urban areas where people work outdoors a good deal and in all seasons- Park Service staff, transit workers, law enforcement, workers in maintenance and grounds upkeep, infrastructure, etc. - it isn't Moscow or Dubai.

At a Montessori school in DC, my teacher sister had a director (NY-DC raised) who liked to sit, was physically inactive, overweight and thought it 'too much trouble' for kids to go out for recess. On chilly days God forbid they should have to put on coats and hats. My sister went ahead with 'rugged outdoor adventure' on the playground, just like she did later as director of another Montessori school in NYC. Experts know that by far kids are better behaved and more focused on learning after a break, expending energy, running around and playing games in nature and outside the traditional classroom setting.

Spending time outdoors, being physically and intellectually active is well known to be vital for good physical and mental health. For children, exposure to nature has also been long recognized as beneficial, since the early 'kindergarten' movement at least. It improves their attention level, learning ability and even immune systems. Reports also suggest that children's (rising) obesity and allergy problems are lessened when regularly engaged in healthy and outdoor pursuits.

In the DMV area, I organized and worked at many educational events and programs for kids and adults that were held outside in summer and fall; I gave outdoor winter tours as well. Natural for me, it was hard to understand a few younger, healthy colleagues who dreaded the activities. ~ I was fortunate to have some childhood summers spent swimming in rivers, ponds, the ocean & pools; on boats, gathering seashells, hunting for Indian arrowheads on riverbanks, watching fireflies & frogs, reading on languid summer days. Seasons included exploring woods & water areas, learning about wildlife, rocks, wildflowers, brilliant autumn foliage & snow's winter beauty. I appreciate now how these early opportunities were one of the best educations I ever had. ~

- Forest Schools (learning style) started in Scandinavia and spread to UK, Europe, Canada, US, more.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_school_(learning_style)
The Benefits of Digging in the Dirt

- Nature schools are helping make outdoor play a priority for a generation of kids suffering from nature-deficit disorder, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/01/05/benefits-digging-dirt

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 23, 2020, 12:17 PM

3. My bad.

I managed to interpret outdoor classrooms as meaning outdoors all the time.

Sometimes I'm a complete idiot.

Yes, doing a lot of stuff outside is an excellent idea and should have long since been a part of education.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 24, 2020, 09:48 AM

4. No problem, there's a lot of material I posted

to get through in order to understand this newer, adjunct style of learning. Places and school systems that implement it, or some of it will figure out the best course for their students, staff and environment.

(And about D.C.'s well known heat & humidity, it's starting to impact me a bit more with 'maturity' ha!).

The activities I was involved with a while back, esp. outside would be a little challenging at this point, but I'm grateful for having decent health and stamina then.

The effects of teaching and administrating for 30 years has caught up some with my workhorse sister, but she loved the work and has a positive attitude which helps.

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