It’s that time of year when our pupils seem to spend almost as much time out of the classroom as in it. You might be concerned to hear this but I am not...
There is a growing body of evidence which shows that such experiences can have profound, long term, life enhancing impacts upon young people. Margaret McMillan, the Scottish nursery education pioneer, hit the spot a hundred years ago when she said “the best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky” (thank you Will). And yet, schools often fail to adequately prioritise and resource this crucial aspect of learning in schools. Well not so here at Craigclowan. I make no apologies for the fact that our children spend all of their break times outside. During an average day they might learn to ride bikes, they camp, build fires, climb trees, climb mountains, get muddy, pick fruit, grow beans, dip ponds, make outdoor art, observe slugs and marvel at the myriad wonders of nature. And from these experiences they learn and grow, developing and expanding the horizons of their known world as they do so.
Specifically, these experiences allow us to target and develop many of the soft skills which are crucial to successful (and happy) lives in our modern society but which are so difficult, though not impossible, to work on in the classroom. I would include in this list of soft skills; good communication, persistence, leadership, teamwork, positive thinking, the ability to listen to others, self-reliance and mutual respect.
So I am am certain that I am right not to be concerned that our pupils are spending so much time out of the classroom. I know that these enriching experiences are not only fun but are also putting in place some of the essential building blocks upon which happy and successful lives can be built.
John F Gilmour