Thursday, September 8, 2011

Importance of Outdoor Education Programs

In many schools' Physical Education programs, the sports that are taught are generally the same. Basketball, flag football, volleyball, softball, and badmitten are some of these very present units in a curriculum. Sometimes too much time is spent on these sports when more time should be focused on lifetime activities that the children can take part in for the rest of their life. Yes, the students should be subjected to these sports so that if they choose to, they can become interested and possibly join a school sports team to continue playing but I believe that students should be introduced to more than just these. Just introducing students to new different activities can get them interested so that they can pursue these activities more outside of school.

I never had an "outdoor education" type unit while I grew up. I love camping, hiking, canoeing, etc. and I would have loved to have a little unit that focused on these lifetime activities while I was in high school. I know that it may be difficult for some schools to do this due to lack of supplies necessary but just being introduced to a small degree would have been beneficial. I have gone camping with my family ever since I was born. I absolutely love it. However, I just really got into hiking this past summer with a couple of my friends. We tried to go hiking at least once a week. I love it because it is a great way to be physically active and you can do it with family and friends. I think that if I was introduced to hiking in high school, I would have began then. Along with the exercise that you get from hiking, the view at the top of a mountain is amazing and the feeling I get after I have hiked a very high mountain is awesome. I think that hiking a mountain is a great metaphor for life. You put in a ton of hard work to get to reach your goals (the top of the mountain) and then when you end up reaching your goals you realize that all of the hard work that you had just put in (climbing the mountain) was worth it.

I think that an outdoor education program can be a great unit to incorporate in a high school curriculum. This past summer I took the outdoor education class up at Raquette Lake. It was a great experience. The skills that are focused on in an outdoor education unit are mainly affective skills. Yes, there are the skills being taught that focus on how to physically perform the skills such as the "C" stroke in canoeing, however this type of education unit is a great way, as a teacher, to see a student's behaviors while in a non-classroom setting. The skills that students need to use in this type of education are one's that are used in everyday living. Teamwork, communication, perseverance, leadership/followership, respect, and initiative are skills that students can use to be successful in their lives. I believe that these are some of the greatest skills that you as a teacher can teach your students. Being able to shoot a basketball or derive a mathematical formula are great skills to have, but these affective skills can much better help your students to grow as individuals in a society where social interaction is very important.

Every teacher can and should reinforce these skills, but in a Physical Education setting, it is usually much easier to observe student to student interaction than it is in a classroom setting. Also, the activities that you can do in Physical Education can force students to use these skills which, if they are not strong in these areas, it gives them a lot of practice to improve them.

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