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Outdoor education provides students with opportunities to develop personal and social skills, to become active, safe, and skilled in the outdoors, and to protect and care for the environment.
Outdoor education includes adventure activities and outdoor pursuits. Adventure activities foster students' personal and social development through experiences involving co-operation, trust, problem solving, decision making, goal setting, communication, leadership, responsibility, and reflection. Through outdoor pursuits, students develop particular skills and attitudes in a range of outdoor settings. Outdoor pursuits include biking, orienteering, bush walking, tramping, camping, kayaking, sailing, following rope trails, and rock climbing.
In outdoor education programmes, the four dimensions of hauora are enhanced through safe, challenging, and enjoyable learning experiences in the outdoor environment.
Through the socio-ecological perspective, students will investigate the importance of the outdoor environment and outdoor activities to the well-being of all New Zealanders. They will critically examine social, cultural, scientific, technological, and economic influences on outdoor activities, on the environment, and on how the environment is used.
The enhancement of hauora through outdoor education requires school-wide policies and procedures to ensure that appropriate activities, safe practices, and the most suitable community resources are selected, used, and evaluated.
In developing outdoor education programmes, schools should:
- make use of the school grounds and the immediate local environment
- make the most of opportunities for direct experiences that can be completed in a school day
- provide relevant, challenging learning programmes that offer opportunities for reflective thinking skills (including critical reflection skills, where appropriate) and that can be provided within a realistic budget
- ensure that appropriate resources and skilled personnel are available
- follow safe practices and comply with legislative requirements. Refer to Education Outside the Classroom: Guidelines for Good Practice (Ministry of Education, 1995) and to Anywhere, Everywhere: EOTC Curriculum Guidelines for Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, and Early Childhood Centres (Ministry of Education, 1992). For other health and safety legislation, see Governing and Managing New Zealand Schools: A Guide for Boards of Trustees (Ministry of Education, 1997).
Students require a range of structured, sequenced, and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities in outdoor education. These include:
- adventure activities and outdoor pursuits that focus on physical skill development, fun, and enjoyment
- adventure activities and outdoor pursuits that focus on the development of personal and interpersonal skills
- learning about the traditions, values, and heritages of their own and other cultural groups, including those of the tangata whenua
- opportunities to learn about the environmental impact of outdoor recreation activities and to plan strategies for caring for the environment
- planning strategies to evaluate and manage personal and group safety, challenge, and risk
- finding out how to access outdoor recreation opportunities within the community.
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