• Karen MacLean

The Many Hats of Teaching (Outdoor Learning Tools part 4)

There is a lot of hype these days about how it’s so hard to motivate children in schools to learn; a lot of moaning about how children aren’t curious anymore and how they need to be entertained and drawn into learning by hook or by crook.


Another way to come at this issue is that children lack role models for curiosity and wonder. At home parents are the experts on how to do chores or get homework done and our traditional school systems are designed to deliver maximum facts – again through knowledgeable adults. If children are going to get back into the groove of curiosity and wonder, it behooves us grown-ups to spend some serious time modeling that approach to life and learning.


Children are born curious and wondrous, embarking on the world with a voracious appetite and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of “why dat” questions. But somewhere along the way they learn that knowing the answer is more important than asking the question, and that accepting the way things are is more important than taking them apart or exploring them. This is not a natural progression; it is not an age-appropriate development that we must counter with ever more devious attempts to engage their attention and interest.


In fact, children learn their disinterest and their passive waiting attitude from how we grown-ups treat them and from the approaches we model, and so it’s up to us to course correct!


The easiest way to do this is to build lots of exploration into our daily work with children, most particularly in areas that we truly don’t know a lot about, so we can practice genuinely being curious (children effortlessly see through adults who pretend to be excited or curious about something).


And the easiest way to cultivate our own curiosity and wonder is to put on our metaphorical pith helmets and take learning activities outside – outside our comfort and knowledgeability zone – and outside the school grounds.


Many teachers already consider carefully which “hat” they will be wearing for a certain learning activity; whether their role in this activity is to impart information or to facilitate a process, for example. When we take learning activities outdoors, we have the opportunity to put aside our expert hats and get curious and explore!


This blog is part of the series about outdoor teaching for indoor people.

Click here to read part 1: Outdoor Teaching for Indoor People

Click here to read part 2: Who is the Teacher Here? Click here to read part 3: Outdoor has a Trick or Two Up It’s Sleeve

Click here to read part 4: The Many Hats of Teaching


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