An independent view
An interview with Jenny Changleng, Head of Outdoor Education at The Edinburgh Academy
Why do you believe outdoor education is important to young people?
The outdoors creates an environment where young people can engage a very different part of their brain to solve real problems, to observe the wonders of nature and its impact on us. It's an opportunity for young people to experience real challenge and any associated consequences.
I think we need to use the outdoors to connect learning from an indoor environment – transferring skills from the outdoors and applying them in the classroom. I also think it’s a great chance for young people to be with each other in a very real sense of the word, without technology and the trappings of designer clothes, makeup etc.
Why did you choose The Outward Bound Trust?
Simply because of the mind-set pedagogy being used – in isolation outdoor activities are just great fun - the clever bit is transferring those skills and experiences into real life thanks to trained mediators/instructors. The Outward Bound Trust are, in my opinion, the sector leaders.
Have you observed any changes in behaviour back in the classroom following your residential?
We have seen pupils engage more in their work, treat challenges as being cool, undestand hard work as inevitable and that 'easy' is in fact boring – not for all but for the majority of our learners.
Can you recall any stand-out moments of wonder or awe during your visit?
“This has changed my life”
“I realise I want to work hard to make myself a better person”
“Failure shows that I am trying, I will just work harder next time...”
So many moments where pupils were supporting each other to work harder, be braver and find a bit more strength. One young person had some sad news about an ill parent just before she left, the impact on her life has been pronounced and noticed at home since her return, she is happier and more focussed, she is not as angry anymore and seems to have opened up to other people a lot.