Are classrooms the enemy?
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Are classrooms the enemy?

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive

It’s a reasonable question and something we rubbed up against when developing our Let Us Out campaign. The Outdoor Education Bills and the idea of an outdoor residential for every young person seems like an obvious thing for Outward Bound to support, but why?

To be clear it’s not because we’re against the indoors – classrooms are not the villains here. In fact, if you asked me to spend all my time outside, I would be hard-pressed to say yes. It’s one reason why I admire our instructors so much, toughing it out even when Mother Nature is having a bad day.

Besides, the great indoors also has its uses as part of an Outward Bound course. It’s warm and dry, and an excellent place to plot adventures, fuel up before a day's activities, and get some rest before a long expedition. We also use our indoor review rooms to reflect on all the learning that’s happened out in the wild.


So, what are we fighting against? Because it’s certainly not the act of being indoors…

What about social media, video games and smartphones? What about endless scrolling and the constant notifications our young people face daily? What about the rise in absenteeism, online bullying, comparison culture, anxiety, or that creeping sense of loneliness?

I have no doubt many of you will have encountered these things in your classrooms, as have many of our instructors in the field. The sad reality is that these issues are now all too common and something decision-makers must face up to.

Let Us Out is our response, it may not be a silver bullet, but we firmly believe outdoor education has a greater role to play in the solution. This campaign is so much bigger than us; it is a collective fight for our children’s future – a future where outdoor residentials are part of the curriculum, and young people leave formal education feeling more capable, curious and resilient – ready for the challenges of life.

If subjects like maths, English, science and the arts are considered essential for developing young people why not outdoor play, residentials and learning outside the classroom?

Ultimately, too many young people are missing out on these experiences and that’s not right. A night away from home, your comfort zone, and the stress and routine of everyday life can have a profound impact on a young person's life. Imagine what we can achieve if every young person is guaranteed that experience during their education.

Put simply, Let Us Out is about making that happen and letting our young people thrive.

*This article was originally featured in the December 2023 issue of School Travel Organiser Magazine

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