How do we learn about the world around us? Can we deliver better learning? How can science help to change behaviours towards a more sustainable world? These are just some of the questions that the Real World Learning Network is exploring.
The Real World Learning Network is a consortium of outdoor learning providers across Europe. Our goal is to explore and share successful approaches to outdoor learning that increase action for sustainable development. We believe that outdoor learning offers one of the best approaches for young people to engage with the world around them, and provide a stimulating context to explore how we can all contribute to a more sustainable present and future.
We are surrounded by frames. When we hear the word ‘nature’, subconsciously a bundle of different memories, emotions and values are activated. Such associations, often leading to strong narratives under the surface of our awareness, are called ‘frames’.
One element for delivering successful outdoor science is connecting teaching to big science issues. Bringing understanding of these big issues is a challenge, especially when they seem invisible to the learner. We have been searching for the links between science, sustainability, and real world learning. In our discussions and research words such as interconnections and context were often highlighted as difficult issues to tackle in outdoor learning. Ten Science Mind Maps were therefore developed as teaching aids to try to address this problem.
Working Group 4 is exploring how outdoor science can support green careers. We are researching which values and competences will help young people play an active role in the green economy. For us the green economy means all jobs, not just those traditionally seen as being green.
We have been working on finding the best fitting model for green competences that can be developed through outdoor learning. This model needs to show clear links between values and competences, provide clear guidance to students about competence groups they will need to develop in order to participate in a green economy, and be a guide for teachers wanting to support values and competence development through outdoor learning.
Sir David Attenborough wisely points out that “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”. We find ourselves at a point in time where the natural world is in dire need of our positive attention, yet where we are increasingly disconnected as a species from nature upon which we ultimately rely for our existence.
What are frames? Frames like ‘balance’ are strong images. By triggering sets of associations they consolidate neural pathways. They help to structure complex relationships, and to strengthen values over the long term. We are surrounded by frames. Some are universal, others result from our culture, and some of them are imposed upon us by the marketing industry. We need frames for orientation – but they can also be subject to manipulation. Using frames in a sense of learning for sustainability means using them responsibly and always in a transparent way.
Working Group 4 is exploring how outdoor science can support green careers. We are researching which competencies and values will help young people play and active role in the green economy. For us the green economy means all jobs, not just those traditionally seen as being green.
We are exploring how outdoor science and real world learning can help learners understand the fundamental concepts of science and sustainable development, and demonstrate practical methods of teaching and learning based on the outdoor classroom. We are developing guidance notes to support high quality outdoor learning.
This might appear to be a strange title, after all doesn’t all science take place ‘in the natural world?’ Where else could it be taking place? When we examine science more closely we might start to wonder; it is often be divorced from the natural world leading to results which cause more harm than good. What would science in the natural world look like?
The training will focus on the role of values, competencies and scientific understanding to support sustainable behaviour change. You will participate in a series of practical activities that allow you to explore your outdoor learning activities and reflect on what is good practice. The course is based on a new model and planning tool for outdoor learning that supports the integration of values, competencies and scientific understanding into outdoor learning.
ICOLE 2014 - Get in touch with the International Conference of the Outdoor Learning Environment: International in practice and innovative examples for informal and out of school learning can be experienced from 13th to 19th of July at a extraordinary conference organized by the University of Halle-Wittenberg.
This is a day with a difference for outdoor leaders. A chance to experience a journey in the Lake District to consider the core values and the nature of leadership required to encourage more sustainable living. It starts at the Beehive building, University of Cumbria campus, Ambleside where Geoff Cooper, chair of AEA Group, and Kate Rawles, outdoor philosopher and environmental campaigner, will set the scene. Participants will then set off in three groups on a 4 hour journey to explore issues relating to leadership, values and sustainability. There will be a choice of three themed journeys.
Location: Preston Montford Field Centre, Shrewsbury
The training will focus on the role of values, competencies and scientific understanding to support behaviour change for sustainability. You will participate in a series of practical activities that allow you to explore your own outdoor learning activities and reflect on what is good practice. The course will be based on a new model and planning tool for outdoor learning that supports the integration of values, competencies and scientific understanding into outdoor learning.
The second Real World Learning Network conference took place at Planica in Slovenia, November 2013. More than ninety people gathered from fifteen countries to explore science and sustainability in outdoor learning.