Why do we see learning as an indoor thing?
We still frequently see relatively large new nursery buildings with comparatively small outdoor areas. It always makes me wonder… Why are we so attached to buildings in the UK? Historically learning took place outside. The Victorian era saw an increase in schooling for children and with that we started to put children into school buildings. The legacy of this is still here in the UK, both within the formal curriculum and the informal experiences of a more play-based experience which often take place inside.
If we were to put as much money into training adults in the skills of interaction with children as we do into some buildings, the skill level of the workforce would be far higher. In the UK there are a growing number of nurture groups in nursery, primary and secondary environments. If we look closely at some of the elements of these programmes, we can see that they are rooted in relationships.
The human behaviours that support our feelings of being nurtured, such as eye contact, gestures of support, clear reasonable boundaries, consistency, and unequivocal acceptance of the individual are the elements that give us an inner resilience. I would suggest that the environment does support the learning, but when more is spent on a building as an investment, rather than a place that fosters relationships, we have to think very carefully which is likely to deliver the longer-term return to society.