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Outdoor Learning & Theorists

There are numerous experts in education, whose views support the concept of learning in a Forest School setting. 

 

Here are just a few…!

Friedrich Frobel

1782 – 1857

 

Friedrich was the first person to develop a ‘Kindergarten’ which focused on sensory experience in nature.

 

He recognised the importance of play in child development.

John Dewey

1859 – 1952

 

Dewey believed that education should be based on real-life situations. 

 

Each planned session uses reflective practice to evaluate and plan following FS sessions based on the interest of the group.

Maria Montessori

1970-1952

 

Montessori’s educational method is widely used in education today, globally.

 

Her theory is based on on play-based learning so learners feel like they ’fit’.

Lev Vygotsky

1896-1934

 

Vygotsky theorised ‘The Zone of Proximal Development – ZPD’, often referred to as ‘scaffolding theory’.

 

The ZPD is the area between what a learner can do without any help or assistance and what they are unable to achieve even with support and help.

 

It is in this area, when we are just outside of what we already know and what we are comfortable doing, that Vygotsky theorised the most engagement and learning would occur.

 

Activities that are too easy for a child are likely to become boring quickly.

If they are too difficult, it will likely be difficult to engage the child.

 

Jean Piaget

1896 – 1980

 

Piaget developed and interest in children’s intellectual development.

 

He believed that children are very different in the way they think to adults.

 

Piaget introduced that 'schemas' are patterns of thought or behaviour that manifest in repeatable actions.

 

Children may want to repeat the same, or similar, actions in order to explore and make sense of the world around them.

 

Piaget theorised that schemas are an important part of how children learn and develop.

Abraham Maslow

1908-1970

 

Maslow claimed his 'Hierachy of Needs' is paramount for the ‘whole’ child to develop. 

 

He believed that we must build up on each layer of foundations for learning to take place in order to support our learners to become the best versions of themselves, focusing on the positive qualities in people.

Howard Gardner

1943-date

 

Gardner claims that traditional ‘intelligence’ (IQ) is to narrow a perspective. 

 

He defines intelligence as ‘the ability to solve problems, understand yourself and to be able to socialise.'

 

All these intelligences are present in all humans; however, it depends on how they’ve been nurtured. 

Daniel Goleman

1946-date

 

Goleman argues that emotional intelligence is as important as IQ for success.

 

This includes; academic, professional, social and interpersonal aspects of one’s life.

 

Goleman says that emotional intelligence is a skills that can be taught and cultivated.

The Reggio Emilia Approach views that each child is infinitely capable, creative and intelligent.  The job of the teacher is to support these qualities and to challenge children in appropriate ways.

 

Susan Issacs (1885-1948) believed that a child’s emotional state was revealed through imaginary play.  Play should therefore be used as a tool to explore and understand a child’s feelings.

 

The Waldorf method of teaching is a unique educational strategy which aims to create well-rounded students through a broad and balanced curriculum. 

 

 

**These theories can all be applied within a Forest School setting.**


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