Dr. Anders Szczepanski works as director at National Center for Outdoor Environmental Education (NCU) at Linköping University as well as a university lecturer and researcher and is the author of a number of textbooks and research articles on outdoor education translated into English, Chinese and Japanese. He has worked with preschools and schools and delivered training in science and outdoor education for more than 30 years. His work has taken him around the world giving lectures, and training teachers across Europe, America and Asia.
Our sedentary lifestyle challenges the capacity for natural movement that our bodies have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. The activity pattern of stone-age man is still built into our DNA, and the increased trend towards inactivity in our everyday lives needs to be drastically changed in order to preserve our future. Outdoor pedagogy can be part of the solution to the problems that lack of physical activity causes!
Research and work in health promotion and disease prevention have shown multiple benefits from spending time in a varied outdoor environment, including: decreased infectivity, reduced stress, decreased incidence of diabetes, improved happiness and well-being, and increased bone density. A body that moves develops strong bones that last throughout life.
Currently our education settings – from nurseries to higher education – are contributing to the growing problems caused by lack of physical activity through their emphasis on indoor classroom-based teaching. Outdoor pedagogy can counteract this through the implementation of a movement-based way of learning in every subject, the local environment becomes the learning environment across the curriculum. Through interacting, varying, and combining indoor and outdoor environments in the education setting, it is possible to introduce multi-sensory stimuli into the learning process, thereby improving cognitive capacity as the body sets the mind into motion. Outdoor pedagogy advocates the combination of high tech (ICT technology) with high touch (outdoor pedagogy), providing students with the necessary tools to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world both effectively and healthily.
Changing the status of our local environment to a learning environment, where action-based knowledge is focused and relevant to concurrent theoretical ability, creates staff challenges in planning, implementation, evaluation, and reflection at both group and individual level.
To support educators in meeting these challenges we have devised the Outdoor Pedagogy Online Course. The course is divided into five sections with each section discussing a specific part of the outdoor pedagogical framework. There will be educational materials provided in the form of articles, videos and radio interviews that will be required study, and assignments that will help the teacher to directly apply this newly acquired knowledge in their teaching.
We will also ask teachers before starting the course to reflect upon what Outdoor Pedagogy means to them, and how they currently utilise it in their education setting in terms of including the local environment in play and learning.
On completion of the course participants will have a good understanding of outdoor pedagogical theory and a strong foundation for implementing this theory in and out of the classroom. The course will lead to a teacher certification in Outdoor Pedagogy.