4 Reasons for Nature-orientated School Trips
Whether it’s the zoo, farm, orchard, national park, or just that little dike that runs behind your school, the best school trips are undoubtedly those spent in nature. Discover four reasons why they’re so beneficial, and what makes them so critical to our students and society now more than ever.
1. For future generations
Climate change is undoubtedly the most significant problem that will face the younger generations. If we're to get them involved in the fight against it and the preservation of nature, we need to nurture their interest from an early age.
That means not just more frequent and engaging school trips that explore social and environmental factors but also following up on visits in the classroom. This study by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust looked at the impact of school visits on students’ attitudes to nature and showed that up to twelve months after their visits, more than 60 percent retained an interest in wildlife and nature. It's clear that, with the right intervention in the classroom, environmental school trips can build long-
lasting interests in nature.
2. Our greatest teacher
We often fail to see Mother Nature as a teacher, but from the patience of a spider weaving its web to the cooperation of ants building an anthill, there's something to learn in every single nook and cranny of the natural world.
Along with learning about the life cycles and social structures of plants and animals, being in nature gives students the perfect opportunity to work on their interpersonal skills. Working in teams to overcome challenges and solve problems in the great outdoors can help wake up inherent qualities that have developed over thousands of years of human, social evolution — the exact qualities society is lacking most today.
3. Tree hugging
You only have to take a walk through the woods or head down to your local park to see that nature has a positive effect on your health and wellbeing. But what many people fail to recognise is that its effects have been empirically proven in the lab.
In Japan, ‘forest bathing’ — being in the presence of trees —is part of the national public health program, and is prescribed for many things such as lowering blood pressure, reducing cortisol, and boosting the immune system. Much of their healing effect is thanks to phytoncides, a group of essential oils found in wood, plants, and some fruits and veggies. Fortunately for us, trees emit these oils to protect themselves and, as a side-effect, have significantly positive effects on our
physiology and mental health.
4. Nature’s playground
If there were ever a good reason for students to get out into the world around them, it would be for the sake of fun. Not only is it the best medicine for every student from the indifferent teen to the overactive youngster, but it is essential to comprehension, memory formation, and learning as a whole.
One of my favourite teachers once said to me, “all learning should be extracurricular”. The problem is that learning today is so regimented and dry that it has lost its inherent joy. To truly have fun and engage in learning students need an element of freedom and play, along with the genuine interest of teachers and their peers.
Nothing encourages these conditions more than being immersed in nature.
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