OUTDOOR & EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION
Through an approach to education that invites, encourages, and ultimately requires students to take initiative, the young people in our care learn to find their voice and develop a sense of agency—to feel that they can control their own lives and positively affect change for others. At UWC Thailand, we strive to help our students develop into balanced, open-minded, principled, and caring thinkers. In isolation; however, without the courage to act on what we feel, think or believe—these attributes are not enough. To make the world a more united or sustainable place requires courageous action.
Through Outdoor and Experiential Education, the rigour of the IB Diploma Programme, by living away from home in Boarding, or learning to make friends with different people from all over the world; our students have opportunities to develop their bravery, their resilience, and their courage in a variety of ways, each and every day. The future needs people who have the courage to act when something needs to be done. When we consistently teach and expect this from today’s youth, we can see its impact. Together, we believe we can make our planet more equal, more just, and more peaceful.
To see our Outdoor Education programme in action, click HERE.
Outdoor Education (OE)
There are many definitions of outdoor education, however the most comprehensive and succinct could be seen as: “Outdoor Education is education ‘in’, ‘about’, and ‘for’ the out-of-doors.”
Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC)
Education outside the classroom is curriculum-based teaching and learning activities that go beyond the walls of the classroom. It includes any curriculum-based subject that takes place outside the school ranging from museum & theatre visits to a sports outing or service trips.
Outdoor Education classes also fall within the definition of EOTC.
Experiential learning is educating through first-hand experience. Skills, knowledge, and experience are acquired both in and beyond a traditional academic setting, and include:
- case-based learning
- problem-based learning
- project-based learning
- inquiry-based learning
- cooperative (work- or community-based) learning
- service-learning projects
- field trips
Both OE and EOTC programs can be defined as Experiential Learning.
Early Childhood Centre
A true embodiment of how important UWC Thailand views Outdoor Education, is its implementation of exciting programs at Nursery, Preschool and Kindergarten level, with the aim of creating an inspirational learning environment.
Focusing on each child’s learning and creating connections with nature rather than aiming to generate specific outcomes, allows students to explore, enjoy and develop a sense of wonder of the natural world, as they take several field trips over the course of the academic year.
The OE program looks to facilitate child-led activities, furthering ideas based on their developing interests in these wild settings by observing and reviewing each session spent in nature. Through strong collaboration with homeroom teachers, the program integrates with each grade level’s current theme, allowing students to make connections beyond the walls of the classroom. It is hoped that by taking part in these activities students will build confidence, independence and resilience in the face of new challenges.
This approach to outdoor learning centres around each child’s involvement at a pace that both supports and also challenges them, encouraging them to build upon their experiences to extend their emotional, physical and academic limits. Students will be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones in each class and as a part of this, our sessions will continue in all weathers (unless it is deemed a significant safety hazard).
UWC Thailand’s Primary School Outdoor Education Program engages each grade level with a 4-6 week long Outdoor Education unit throughout the school year. The program involves collaboration with homeroom teachers prior to each unit to discuss what are the prevailing connections with the current theme being explored in class, so that it is possible to facilitate opportunities for inquiry throughout. Topics covered in the Primary School Outdoor Education Program are conservation and environmentalism, hiking, wilderness living, cycling and kayaking.
Through these topics students will continue to develop self confidence, resilience, communication, teamwork and leadership skills to name but a few. Students will also learn the skills needed to participate fully with the activity as we continue to make connections to the theme being covered in class.
The Secondary School students all participate in a 4-6 week long Outdoor Education Program throughout the school year. The program is an Interdisciplinary unit that bridges connections with both, Physical Health Education and Experiential Learning classes. Topics covered in the Secondary school are climbing, hiking, orienteering, wilderness living, mountain biking, sailing, kayaking and camp-craft.
The Secondary School Program purposefully shares many commonalities with the Primary School Program as we seek to create a continuous pathway of learning as students progress through the school.
At UWC Thailand, students from Grade 1 to Grade 10 participate in yearly camps. These camps provide students a week of learning outdoors, challenging themselves in new and uncomfortable environments. Each camp is designed to incorporate suitably age appropriate challenges allowing students the opportunity to:
- Develop aspects of personal responsibility and integrity, such as self-esteem, resourcefulness, independence, leadership, cooperation, tolerance and determination.
- Develop aspects of mutual responsibility and respect, such as social awareness, positive relations, teamwork, communication skills, cooperation, compassion for others and respect for diversity.
- Through experiential learning, provide the opportunities for personal challenge by encouraging students to take the initiative to step out of their comfort zone.
- Develop respect for the environment emphasising our interrelationships and interdependence with natural systems.
- Increase knowledge and awareness of the environment, which can lead to a willingness to take responsible action to protect it.
- Teach skills and knowledge in outdoor education that can lead to intrinsic enjoyment and satisfaction and lifelong involvement in leisure activities in the outdoors.
Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Edinburgh International Award allows students to develop a range of skills such as navigation, camp craft, meal preparation & outdoor cooking as well as developing resilience, perseverance, teamwork and leadership amongst its participants. The program has students complete three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. For each of these components, students will learn a skill, take part in a physical activity and offer their time to a service project. As students progress through the award, the length of time they must spend on it will increase.
Finally, in order to complete the award, the students must take part in an adventurous journey. In the past the journeys have included kayaking, hiking and cycling expeditions. These journeys are a real test of the skills and determination of each student.
Co-Curricular Outdoor Activities
Providing students with a range of after school co-curricular activities is key to expanding the reach of the Outdoor Education program within the school. Students from both primary and secondary school have the opportunity to join the twice weekly climbing club & sailing clubs. However one of the most exciting co-curricular activities is the monthly Outdoor Club trips, where students primarily from G9-G12 get to take on an exciting adventure such as kayaking through mangrove forests, searching for edible plants in the jungle or climbing on the iconic Railey Beach rock faces in Krabi.
The school also offers a number of environmental programs, many of which are student led, facilitated by an amazing team of staff who help initiate a number of fantastic experiences for the student body. These programs will continue to have a lasting impact not only on the students but also on the local environment as well.
M.A.N.T.A (Marine Animal and Nature Trust Association) is the school’s primary environmental group which focuses on two main projects: coral research and mangrove planting. The Coral Team provides students with training to gain a PADI certification as open water divers in order to learn the necessary skills to safely conduct research on the seafloor. Whilst the Mangrove team nurture seed pods on campus and successfully plant 1000’s of mangrove saplings every year.