Teaching Year 7 PDH outside: Diversity and Inclusion by the waterfall

29 March 2020

Children spend less time in nature than ever before. It is not only the time spent on recreational activities like watching TV or playing video games, but also for many, school education takes place mainly indoors.

On the 5 March 2020, Glenaeon held a free public seminar named “The Power of Play in Nature.” In that event, the speakers discussed the various benefits of opening the classrooms and give children the possibility to play and learn in the outdoors. Research clearly shows that playing and just being outside in nature can, for instance, enhance creativity, productivity and social learning, as well as boost mood, mental and physical well-being, and lower stress.

Jonas is teaching PDH content outside for that reason in the school’s rotunda adjacent to the courts, but newly inspired by the seminar, we decided to take the class over to an even prettier part of the campus to the rocks beside the waterfall. It was there, that I taught my very first lesson of Personal Development and Health (PDH) in year 7. That meant, first of all, a jog across the courts and the oval, climbing over the little creek and climbing the boulders to find an appropriate sport as an outdoor classroom. Just arriving at this remote and calm spot, the children became aware of the different sounds and sensations from these new surroundings.

The topic of this lesson was Diversity and Inclusion and the students were encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences with the group. Unlike inside a traditional classroom, the awareness for speaking up and listening to one another was heightened right from the beginning.  

Teaching this lesson really was a special experience and it was delightful to see how almost every student wanted to contribute to the discussion, all whilst remaining respectful and attentive. For me personally, this lesson was special in many ways. For one thing, PDH is not a subject that is taught in Germany and after seeing some and now even teaching one of these lessons, I believe that the discussed topics should definitely be implemented in the curriculum, as they are so relevant for the student’s lives and development. I do not think that children usually get enough space to take and share their opinions about the topics that really move them, and these lessons make that possible. Furthermore, except for PE lessons, I hardly ever taught a class outside the classroom, and I can see how the above-mentioned benefits take effect once you take the children outside.

Due to the current situation concerning the coronavirus, this was one of the last lessons I could enjoy here. Unfortunately, this is cutting my stay at the school a bit shorter than expected. Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to say thank you to the school and all the staff that welcomed me so warmly and included me in the day-to-day life as a teacher. I had the most amazing experience assisting and teaching at Glenaeon, it is a wonderful place, filled with wonderful people.

Special thanks go to Jonas, with whom I have worked most closely together, as well as Donna, Jamie, Jak, Brigitte, Michele, Sarah and of course Stuart, who I stayed with for the time here in Australia. Thank you very much for taking me to your lessons, helping me out at school and beyond, with my stay here in Australia, making this adventure possible! I wish that after this situation calms down, I will be able to visit and hopefully see all of you again!

Best, Lennart

Thank you Lennart for your wonderful contribution to Glenaeon and we wish you a safe journey home.