Back to School

Q: Age is no guarantee of efficiency.
James Bond: And youth is no guarantee of innovation. (Skyfall, 2012)

Let’s decide to put these outdated ideas to rest once and for all. Fortunately, there are ways to see in this “new normal”  not only the 2020 version of the seven plagues of Egypt but also occasions to think of and implement a myriad of opportunities to harness our sense of creativity and our ability to precisely demonstrate once again that Youth can be the raw material of innovation.

For instance, one of these breakthroughs could take place in the field of education. Teaching school kids in the wild might be surprising at first thought. But perhaps, we might think of this idea a chance for them to benefit from a burst of fresh air in a whole new learning environment?

Without claiming being equipped with neither skills nor prior knowledge in teaching methods, I find this idea interesting, or at least worth being taken into consideration. Giving it a try and harnessing the potential of a whole new allegedly soothing working environment could be way more valuable than you first might think. And not only because this is a timely tailormade idea in this social distancing time which would be significantly easier. It sounds also like a natural learning environment would foster a spirit of mutual support among pupils.

Also, I was surprised to read about the supposed benefits of climate variations, according to Scandinavian countries where this method is implemented at a significant proportion. Learning on the one hand while simultaneously experiencing the elements’ variations (to a certain extent) on the other hand would be a fruitful approach to strengthen the pupils’ stamina. In Scotland, this practice is even incorporated in the official program. This is worth being noticed, as this is common knowledge Scottish weather may be full of surprises.

Also, let’s talk a bit of rethinking playgrounds with the newspaper Le Monde:

“A natural space planted and shaped, offering mounds, nooks, paths, footbridges, and tunnels… It is this Belgian model that the “Oasis” courtyards are trying to approach, financed thanks to the 5 million euros collected from Europe (Feder funds). Nine have been inaugurated this autumn. In Germany and Scandinavia, the courses are also intended to be learning spaces. In the Danish capital, for example, a guide to outdoor facilities is distributed to kindergartens: young pupils must be able to jump, hide, change their environment and be in contact with the elements. As a result, sandboxes are not in danger of disappearing, as in France; children also play with earth and mud. […]

In France, the movement first reached Strasbourg ten years ago, where two teachers from Jacqueline nursery school transformed their courtyard into a complex space, used every morning for outdoor classes. Other schools in Strasbourg, and later in other cities, have been inspired by this approach. Vegetalization is spreading, as called for by the collective Enseignant.e.s pour la planète (Teachers for the Planet) in January 2019, then reinforced by the suffocating experience of confinement and now officially encouraged by the French Ministry of Education. Sidi Soilmi, head of the school buildings unit, created in July 2019, attests to “a political will to address these issues, which meet the expectations shared by education and local authorities”.[…]

The variety of playful possibilities soothes the climate; the hiding places and nooks and crannies allow a breath of fresh air when the paved courtyards, “with their high density and heterogeneous audiences, are anxiety-provoking, conducive to tension and dangerous games,” observes Thibaut Hébert, lecturer in educational sciences at the University of Lille. Professor of geography at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, Pascal Clerc reminds us that the initial objective of the playground (“a place where one recreates and regenerates oneself”) has, in reality, never prevailed, “contrary to surveillance”.

While concluding this short article, I would tend to want to go for joining the supporters of this method. So, let’s get in the wild!

Jules Striffler

⦁ Maviert, Johan, 2020. « École En Plein Air : La Différence Est Très Nette En Termes De Bien-Être Et De Motivation ». [online] Libé Available at: <; [Accessed September 1st, 2020].
⦁ Schwartzbrod, Alexandra. 2020. « Éditorial : Aventure ». Libé [Accessed September 1st, 2020].
⦁ Piquemal, Marie (texte) & Trossat, Théophile (photo). 2020. « École : La Ruée Vers L’Air ». Libé [Accessed September 1st, 2020].
⦁ Piquemal, Marie (texte) & Trossat, Théophile (photo). 2020. « Il est inconcevable pour moi de refaire classe entre quatre murs ». Libé [Accessed September 1st, 2020].
⦁ Graveleau, Séverin. 2020. “Face À La Crise Due Au Coronavirus, La Pratique De La « Classe Dehors » Se Popularise”. Le Monde.Fr.
⦁ Fauchier-Delavigne, Moina, Pascal Krémer, and Amélie Losier (photographer). 2020. “Les Cours De Récré Se Mettent Au Vert”. Le Monde.Fr.

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