Outdoor education (OE) has recently gained popularity also in Italy, especially after the indoor confinement experienced due to the pandemic. OE has shown to foster children’s stress recovery, cognitive performance, and affiliation with Nature, exploiting benefits produced by natural ecosystems (i.e. the Ecosystem Services, ES). To explore the hypothesis to implement OE programs in the Venice lagoon, we assessed the “information for cognitive development” ES focusing on the valli da pesca, a peculiar habitat of the lagoon that still maintain the main features of transitional waters environments. According to the results of our questionnaire addressed to teachers in the Metropolitan City of Venice, all the respondents would be very interested in conducting OE in such environments, suggesting a high demand that could potentially involve more than 2700 teachers. Obtained results, however, revealed that 37.5% of the teachers are frightened by the additional bureaucratic effort it might require, and 20.8% expressed concerns about risk/safety conditions. The results reveal also that their current idea of OE is more similar to schoolyard playtime, or to the occasional engagement in a school trip: 40.2% of the interviewed teachers consider indeed one trip per year sufficient to stand for OE, whereas only 3.9% agreed that the ideal frequency should be at least one day per month. Another frequently reported drawback dwells with the difficulty of adapting for OE a frontal lesson on the topics addressed in the classroom. Therefore, despite the high capacity of the valli da pesca to provide suitable places for OE, we highlight that a non-negligible portion of the local school system does not seem currently ready for this kind of experience, as they are portrayed simply like “experiences outside the classroom” where the environmental features don't really ‘make the difference’. The concerns expressed by the majority of the interviewed teachers suggest they need strong support in implementing a real OE program, as opposed to just “teaching in outdoor settings”, so that lack of the classical teaching tools (such as blackboard, desks and school furniture) is not seen anymore as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to discover the affordances of the environmental elements that could stimulate the students to learn-by-doing.

Outdoor education: are we really ready?

Stocco Alice
;
Pranovi Fabio
2022

Abstract

Outdoor education (OE) has recently gained popularity also in Italy, especially after the indoor confinement experienced due to the pandemic. OE has shown to foster children’s stress recovery, cognitive performance, and affiliation with Nature, exploiting benefits produced by natural ecosystems (i.e. the Ecosystem Services, ES). To explore the hypothesis to implement OE programs in the Venice lagoon, we assessed the “information for cognitive development” ES focusing on the valli da pesca, a peculiar habitat of the lagoon that still maintain the main features of transitional waters environments. According to the results of our questionnaire addressed to teachers in the Metropolitan City of Venice, all the respondents would be very interested in conducting OE in such environments, suggesting a high demand that could potentially involve more than 2700 teachers. Obtained results, however, revealed that 37.5% of the teachers are frightened by the additional bureaucratic effort it might require, and 20.8% expressed concerns about risk/safety conditions. The results reveal also that their current idea of OE is more similar to schoolyard playtime, or to the occasional engagement in a school trip: 40.2% of the interviewed teachers consider indeed one trip per year sufficient to stand for OE, whereas only 3.9% agreed that the ideal frequency should be at least one day per month. Another frequently reported drawback dwells with the difficulty of adapting for OE a frontal lesson on the topics addressed in the classroom. Therefore, despite the high capacity of the valli da pesca to provide suitable places for OE, we highlight that a non-negligible portion of the local school system does not seem currently ready for this kind of experience, as they are portrayed simply like “experiences outside the classroom” where the environmental features don't really ‘make the difference’. The concerns expressed by the majority of the interviewed teachers suggest they need strong support in implementing a real OE program, as opposed to just “teaching in outdoor settings”, so that lack of the classical teaching tools (such as blackboard, desks and school furniture) is not seen anymore as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to discover the affordances of the environmental elements that could stimulate the students to learn-by-doing.
XXXI Congress of the Italian Society of Ecology
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5006443
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