Douglas Kidd is Dean of Students at ICHK and Teacher of Human Technologies
Human beings evolved to live outdoors, and many of the ways in which we think and sense the world around us are calibrated to the outdoor life. A good example with a great deal of relevance to education is our ability to concentrate- to focus our attention in one particular direction.
For most of human history, we were hunters and foragers. We searched for food and tried to avoid becoming food for other animals. This required the ability to shift attention easily and rapidly- to be able to monitor sounds, sights, smells, changes in the wind and terrain for possible sources of food or danger. It meant being able to concentrate hard to solve problems and decipher signs in the environment but all the while being ready to be distracted by a sign of danger.
You might recognise yourself or your child in this description of being able to focus intently when needed but being easily distracted! But it is a natural process and one that comes into its own when we are outdoors in nature constantly monitoring the world for changes in the weather, clues about where we are and why the landscape is the way it is, glimpses of birds and animals around us and so on.
For students like this, time spent out of doors can be a real help as they calibrate themselves differently and are able to tune into the natural world.
For all of us, the great outdoors gives us a chance to put learning in a real world context. Being able to use trigonometry to measure one side of a triangle is useful to answer a maths problem. But out in a canyon when you need to know the height of a wall you will abseil down it is vital.
Solving problems, working as a team, spotting difference, making, reviewing and developing plans- all are more immediate and real when you are doing them in the real world.
This is why you will find over and over that your students come home telling you they have been out walking, exercising, measuring, enjoying, cycling, canyoning, visiting and working in the beautiful surroundings of ICHK.