More maths... Yeah, let's do that
Maths… Maths… and more… what exactly?
More of the same?
More differentiation at the expense of… music… PE… RE and ethics?
Is an extended look at quadratic equations really the answer to some of the most pressing issues of our time? Issues such as biodiversity loss. Climate change? Or the mental health of young people?
Here at Bioasis Mission Control, we’ve been discussing (oh alright, lamenting!) the recent government announcement that they want everyone to study Maths to age 18. And, as is our way, we’ve put some thoughts on paper…
What might the future look like if, instead, the government had said...
“We want all young people, before the age of 18, to spend at least one week learning outside of the classroom. Would every year be too much to ask? One week, away from the internet, reconnecting with nature. A week spent learning about themselves, the importance of biodiversity, communication, team work and conservation. A week away from screens.”
What might that future look like?
Might it just, perhaps, inspire the next generation to strive to protect the precious world in which we live. It’s not rocket science. It’s not even complicated maths. It’s nature and learning to connect with it. Nature-based school trips provide a huge diversity of educational benefits. Put together, they are far more powerful at combating the issues of our world that ‘more maths’.
Below are just a few of those benefits…
Hands-on learning experiences:
Out of the classroom, students can learn about science, history, geography (and maths!) through direct engagement with the natural environment. The learning becomes practical. Interactional. Relevant. And, crucially for some students for whom the ‘classroom experience’ just doesn’t work for, engaging.
Development of environmental awareness:
Spending time in nature can help students to appreciate the natural world and understand the importance of preserving it. In our busy, predominantly city based lives, we are too far removed from nature and all its wonder. How can we expect students to want to conserve it when they have never seen it? What might they want to protect, or learn about, once they’ve witnessed the thrill of the dawn chorus? Or learnt to identify 7 different trees? Or discovered the thrill of how to find and observe reptiles in the wild?
Improved problem-solving and critical thinking skills:
Outdoor activities, physical challenges, team building and collaboration projects – they all challenge students both mentally and physically, and encourage them to think creatively and independently. Personal development, pushing boundaries, seeking your comfort zone and, when you push past it, finding out that many of our limitations are self-imposed. That’s when the real magic happens. Enhanced creativity and imagination:
Spending time in nature can inspire students to be more creative and imaginative which, in turn, can have a positive impact on their wider learning and personal development. When was the last time you spent time sitting quietly in a wildflower meadow? Waiting. Watching. Listening. What ideas started to form? It’s the times when we allow our minds to wander that we have our best ideas and things start to slot into place. Imagine what passions we might spark? Improved physical and mental health:
Nature-based school trips can promote physical activity, reducing stress and improving overall well-being. In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a mental health epidemic amongst young people. Screens, stress, and a lack of nature are all part of the problem. But nature can be a huge part of the solution too. There is a reason why GPs are starting to ‘prescribe’ time in nature. Maybe a regular grounding in nature as a young person would go some way to stemming the tidal wave of mental health problems our society faces. Or maybe we should just teach them more maths? Yeah, let’s do that.
Combating climate change Nature-based school trips can help combat the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis by educating students on the importance of preserving the environment and its resources. Through hands-on experiences, students can gain a deeper understanding of the interconnections between different species and their environment, as well as the impact of human activities on the natural world. This understanding naturally leads to more informed decision-making and a greater commitment to conservation and sustainability efforts. Additionally, such trips can inspire students to pursue careers in environmental fields, further driving progress towards a more sustainable future. Increased appreciation for the arts:
Exposure to natural beauty can help inspire students to engage with the arts and appreciate the beauty and power of the natural world. Yes, we need scientists. Yes, we also need mathematicians. But we also need dancers. And artists. And musicians. Above all, though, we need rounded, well balanced, critical thinking human beings that can connect the complicated web of dots that is the modern world.
Outdoor education brings it all together. It’s the invisible ‘glue’ that helps create the whole person. The quiet confidence and understanding that makes sense of and expands on the very limited curriculum we learn at school. That’s not a criticism of our teachers. It’s a criticism of the narrow educational structure schools in our country are forced to work within.
So while maths is important, lets not forget nature. It might just be the answer we’re looking for.