By Stewart Paterson, CP Programme Sports Teacher
Outdoor exploration is one of the ways students at WISS are intentional about connecting with their host country. China has so much to offer in terms of culture and nature and it is a privilege to interact, connect and challenge our students to widen their world-view. Stewart Paterson, CP Programme Sports Teacher led the Grade 6 Nanbei Hu trip and shares his views on the importance of learning outside of the classroom.
As an educator, I believe it is hugely beneficial for the students to challenge themselves in an unfamiliar setting. This provides them with opportunities to build character, resilience and develop new passions. This process is one which we reflect upon when we return to WISS. Outdoor trips such as Nanbei Hu are great for starting discussion and generating interest in topics such as the environment and local culture. This makes other curriculum areas more interconnected and helps us to build a balanced curriculum here at WISS.
The grade 6 Nanbei Hu trip takes place in a series of interconnected activity areas within a vast nature park. There is a large lake, an ancient temple and many beautiful surrounding hills which are ideal for hiking. Over the course of our time in Nanbei Hu we took part in fantastic activities, such as: archery, rock climbing, camp fire, team building, camping, catapult building, wilderness skills, the leap of faith and the students favorite, the three-hour hike. The activities were run by the staff at Insight Adventures (www.insight-adventures.com) who were excellent with our students. They offered encouragement and expert advice at every turn.
The activities were designed to challenge and engage our students, putting many of them outside of their comfort zone. This is the nature of the Nanbei Hu trip; we want students to challenge themselves, discover their strengths, identify areas they can improve in and make lifelong memories with their friends. Throughout the trip, students develop many of the qualities that the IB prioritize in the Learner Profile. Students have to demonstrate critical thinking skills, be open-minded, be willing to take risks, be effective communicators and most importantly, be reflective. The Nanbei Hu trip was fantastic from start to finish. The students did themselves proud and displayed all the qualities of a well-rounded WISS student!!
As a parent, it’s important to know that learning outdoors does not need to happen in isolation on such school trips. As an IB learning community, parents can engage with their kids by seeking to bring the outdoors into their daily lives. Here are three ways your family can engage with nature immediately:
For Early Years students, parents can encourage exploration of nature by letting them get dirty and play! Get creative with natural materials and see what games you can make up with only your surroundings as resources. This can help encourage creativity and a passion for the great playground that is the outdoors.
For Primary Years students, families can go on a local safari! Try going for an adventure in your local park or your nearest green area. Have a competition to see who can photograph or spot the most wildlife and then learn what they are. This is a great opportunity to talk about the environment and the natural habitat of different animals.
For Secondary Students, why don’t you try a family hiking and camping trip! Great exercise and a fantastic opportunity to be at one with nature awaits. Try out some survival skills such as starting your own campfire (make sure you pre-pack marshmallows). Camping trips are a great way to get away from the trappings of city life and explore nature in its finest and purest form.
Adventure awaits you! Turn off the devices and head outdoors as a family. I invite you to share your experiences with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.