This testimony appears in “Le Monde de l’Education”. If you are subscribed to World, you can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by following this link.
Since the end of the first confinement, the practice of the classroom outside has suddenly acquired media visibility due to the health crisis. Of course, taking students outside, in natural spaces, is beneficial for children and limits contamination. But the classroom outside is above all a pedagogical practice in its own right, which remains marginal in France today. Teachers were already “going out” before the Covid-19 and I hope that those who do so recently will continue to take their students outside when this is all over.
I am a teacher at the Pompaire primary school in Deux-Sèvres. For the past five years, I have regularly gone outside with my students. I started teaching outside because I realized that children need to have experiences in nature to grow up, and because many of them do not. Over the years, I have seen how much my students appreciate and enjoy these moments. Today, it seems almost unthinkable to me not to go out to class, for them as for me.
When I arrived in this school in 2014, a teacher, Crystèle Ferjou, was already practicing the class outside in kindergarten. At the time, I had CP-CE1 and this practice seemed to me something a bit special and reserved for toddlers. When our colleague left, we wanted to continue this practice. The lack of space in our school led us to take the path outside. We were missing a classroom every early afternoon. Since the available space was the garden, the teaching team therefore decided that all elementary classes would go out for an hour and a half a week. The adventure then began for all the students, from the small section to the CM2.
At the time, there were still very few classroom experiences outside in elementary and it was difficult for me to project myself into this practice, especially since I had little naturalistic knowledge. I then relied on local resources and things I liked to do in my class (land art, album readings, student councils, etc.).
Labeled “Eco-School”, we had projects around biodiversity. So I took advantage of this time outside to work on this theme, sometimes with the help of environmental education structures. I trained at the same time as my students, especially in ornithology.
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