When kids zone out in class, they are normally thinking about something in these three general topics: Drama, food, and the real world. Teens especially have a lot of drama going on in school and this weaves its way into everything. Teens also are constantly thinking about food and are constantly hungry. However, real world news always dominates thoughts. For example, during this recent election, kids of most ages were constantly thinking and talking about the candidates and global issues. Real world news and information can dramatically effect students. This is why it is very important to use all of the resources that the school and community have to offer.
Schools main purpose is to prepare students for the real world. However, students are confined to the school for the day then confined to classrooms. There are some classes where classroom work is required, but taking ventures outside when possible is a great way to make connections and engage the students by incorporating nature into the lesson. Engaging students is getting harder and harder in this era of technology, so finding ways both inside and outside of the school is a critical part of learning. “Learning is becoming an anytime, anyplace activity, more woven into all the parts of everyday life.” (21st Century Skills, 2009). What better way to encourage that weaving than making the world a classroom? This connection to the outside world will also subtly encourage self-learning by showing the real-world connections.
The way that campus is used in grade school can be dramatically changed to benefit High schools normally have fairly large campuses and some outdoor space. The same goes for middle school just on a smaller scale. Utilizing this space could greatly boost student engagement and understanding as well as relieving some stress. A great time for students to use this space would be during study hall or, as my middle school called it, resource. This time for students to keep up with their work is highly limited. In most cases, students are confined to the classroom for the whole block unless they have a note from another teacher. As a student, I can tell you that it gets boring being cooped up in a school all day and would love some outdoor time for a change of scenery and the relaxation factor. If there was a designated outdoor space, like a courtyard or a patio, dedicated as a hangout for study hall students, it would allow for stress to be relieved and focus to increase. Another great way to use outdoor space is during lessons. Taking the class outside for some would be very beneficial to the kids. Using nature to connect the lesson to the world is a great way to get students to think about what else the material applies to. For example, if an English class is reading a poem that uses a leaf symbolically, then pick up a leaf and lead it through the journey it goes on as the poem is read. This is just one example. The outdoors allow for connections and less stress.
Colleges use campus very differently than grade school. While in college, students have more interactions outside of the school. For example, students have the opportunity for internships. These internships prepare the students for the real world by giving them the opportunity to test their knowledge in an environment similar to where they could possibly work. Internships also allow students to see how things work in the job and if it is something they want pursue or if they want to look at other options. This idea should be incorporated into grade school. Students are not getting the hands on experience or the application to the real world with how they are learning now. The opportunity for an internship at a company should at least be an option that students can explore if they want. This would also allow for students to find out if they actually enjoy the occupation and want to pursue it. Students could also save a lot of money if they figure out what they want to do before they spend a ton of money on college classes that won’t help them in the long run. The way to prepare students for the rest of their life is not only in classroom. Explore outside of the classroom and even out of the school to best prepare them.
The benefits of having an opportunity to relax and learn outside has a lot of benefits. These include relief of stress, increased focus and engagement, and an increase in student connections. “The educational content is not the problem. It is the delivery method and the setting.” (Rewired, 2010). Combining a study hall with the option of being outside and a lesson outdoors into a school day creates a very versatile and exciting day. The opportunity for internships have endless benefits for students. If all outdoors and community opportunities are utilized, students will be less stressed, more focused, and have a better perspective on their futures.
Rosen, Larry D. Rewired: Understanding the Generation and the Way They Learn. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Trilling, Bernie, and Charles Fadel. 21. Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our times. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.