Gary speaking at the conference

Academic Speaks at Outdoor Education Conference

Schools should consider using outdoor learning to boost physical, personal and social education among pupils.

That was the message from University of Brighton academic Dr Gary Stidder in his keynote speech to a West Sussex County Council Outdoor Education conference.

Dr Stidder said learning outside the classroom could be integrated into physical education curriculum. Benefits from “adventurous activities that involve problem-solving and decision-making”, he said, would include the promotion of exercise, health and values.

Dr Stidder, Principal Lecturer in Physical Education in the University’s School of Sport and Service Management and Co-founder of the award-winning Football 4 Peace International programme, said he recognised that some schools were restricted by limitations in facilities, resources and “teachers insecurities in subject knowledge” but, he said, the benefits “far outweighed the challenges faced by teachers”.

Adventurous activities, he said, can help pupils learn how to “overcome adversity, defeat phobias such as a fear of heights and enclosed spaces, and develop a ‘can-do attitude’. This in turn can improve academic achievement, improve interpersonal behaviours and develop transferable skills and independence in a wide range of environments”.

Outdoor and adventurous activities can also develop self-esteem, help pupils to take personal responsibility and to co-operate with and respect the needs of others. They “extend their personal horizons through a greater appreciation and understanding of the environment; enhance practical problem solving and team work skills; and promote a positive and knowledgeable response towards personal health and wellbeing”.

The conference was held at Lodge Hill Centre, an outdoor education centre in Pulborough, for schools and youth groups.

For more on Dr Stidder, go to: https://research.brighton.ac.uk/en/persons/gary-stidder