(Photo Credit: Chermaine Lee, BBC article)
The BBC recently published an article How Asia Fell in Love with Forest Schools that chronicled the rise of forest schools around the world, more recently in Asia. As schools are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been trying to get more outside air in through increased ventilation, which has led to many more considering how their classes might be taught outside to avoid the issues of poor air quality and masks inside. While this is a response to a new and pressing global need, the idea of school outside is not new. In fact, Europe has been leading the development of forest schools since the 1950's, and many parents and teachers have encouraged it due to the various skills it develops -- curiosity, physical coordination, sensory tolerance.
"There are skills and knowledge that are vital to develop and practice alongside the academic skills in order for it all to become embedded, practiced and investigated," Jones says, observing her open-air classroom. "These are skills for life."
At MKThink we've worked with many schools to figure out how they can "wild the tame" through programmatic and physical space changes that connect students more to the outdoors. From simply designing classrooms to spill outside when whether permits, to intentionally designing outdoor experiences, we feel that the outdoors has a lot to offer our educational programs -- and it even does so at a minimum of resource and energy use.