Every year at this time I like to write a blog post to acknowledge our teachers — both past and present — for the incredibly important work that they do in our schools for students and their families.
We all remember our own time in school. For me, and for many others, what made school great were the teachers who showed up every day to be with us. Sure, sometimes the subject matter content was fun, but more importantly it was the teacher at the front of the room who made the difference.
I have many fond memories of my teachers — most of them were amazing — truly caring individuals who wanted what was best for me. Today, I want to talk about Mr. Polukoshko. I mentioned him briefly in my post back in 2017, but for some reason, I feel the need to express my thanks about him again today.
I remember my post from a couple of years ago where I placed a disclaimer at the beginning asking for people to NOT email me with ‘the exception that disproves the rule’. The post was published in Dec 2019 (Teenager Emotions – Some Intriguing Research) and talked about how teenagers processed their emotions differently than younger children and most adults. Yes, we could always find an exception to the general findings — people are complex like that — but, that does not mean that a general relationship or trend isn’t evident.
I feel like I should probably start out this blog post with the same request.
I’m going to be talking about some research suggesting there are differences between how boys and girls learn. So, to qualify things before I receive comments or concerns, I am not saying that EVERY child will fall into this binary description. Children are diverse like the rest of our population and do not automatically fit into stereotyped boxes of ‘boys’ or ‘girls’. Even suggesting that there is this binary world of only two genders does not fully acknowledge the spectrum of gender identity in our world.
The messages I want to share with you today are meant to provoke thought about how CHILDREN learn differently. Feel free to even take the terms ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ away and think about them as ‘differences amongst children’.
I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
It would be a typical day in late spring. I was in my classroom teaching science. The weather was warm, sunny and inviting. A hand would rise and the polite voice would ask, “Can we go outside for class today? Please, Mr. Eberwein.” Most sunny days the question repeated itself. What the students probably didn’t realize is that I wanted to be outside as well. However, my lessons just didn’t fit well with being outdoors so the answer was often a NO.
But, IS there some evidence that supports the idea that learning outside is beneficial — that being immersed in our natural surroundings is actually helpful while learning curriculum?
We have all heard anecdotal support for learning outside — that being in nature is calming and centering — things like going on nature hikes, being in outdoor classrooms, or taking field trips to the beach or old growth forests all are great experiences. But, I haven’t seen the empirical evidence to support that notion.
Now, three researchers have reviewed hundreds of other studies to find an answer to the question of whether being in nature makes a difference to learning.