University branches out with outdoor learning for future teachers

Queen Margaret University says it is revising the way it teaches life lessons.

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Queen Margaret University has been branching out with its first year teaching students with outdoor lessons.

And the university says it is revising the way it teaches life lessons and is looking to impart the skills it takes to teach outside.

Lecturer Patrick Boxall is hopeful the teachings will have a ripple effect as the students go on to teach all over the globe.

He said: “This is more than learning about learning outdoors, it’s about learning full stop. And if we can build the agency of people to take control of their own learning, to be creative, to make meaning for themselves and others, that’s going to have massive impact in the future.

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“Students will go off to the many corners of the world and will have impact in the future.

“I can see this having a ripple effect, sending out branches and seedlings into the future.”

That future will lie in a new outdoor learning hub at the uni’s Musselburgh campus and giving the next generation of teachers the skills and resources to think outside the classroom.

Student Latifah Johnson said: “I feel like that’s how I would like to be as an educator when I’m older and once I have finished university.

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“Being able to teach people ways and different styles, because not everyone’s good at just reading and writing and just picking up things from just reading it in a book, they’d rather draw something or go outside and like learn things by nature.”

And following the last 18 months and a disrupted learning style, the students are grateful for an alternative.

Anna Murray said: “It’s just brilliant to be outside because you’re always stuck on a laptop screen and you don’t see anyone from your course and it’s lovely to be outside.”

The space will also be available to other schools and communities from across the country and is designed to connect more with nature.

Danny Hunter, from Architecture and Design Scotland, said: “A big driver for us in the collaboration with QMU was the fact that outdoor forest spaces are fantastic but a lot of schools across Scotland are very urban – they’re city centre-based.

“They don’t have access to these type of spaces, so part of the collaboration is about creating outdoor learning environments on the campus.”