The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

From the Head of Middle School

The importance of Outdoor Education

Do you remember weekday afternoons coming home from school, depositing your school bag and after a brief snack being told you could, or even had to, stay outside until the street lights came on?  When bike riding, tree climbing, fort making, cubby building, skateboarding among other things filled the time between school and being called inside for chores, homework and dinner.  In that afternoon 'inter tidal zone', important but subtle skills and strengths were honed and developed.  Problem solving and decision making, (without an adult to refer to) collaborating and planning, (to get your side's defences built before the other team came looking for you) and always the constant risk assessment of the terrain or the weather, (so that you didn't come off second best when you, or it, landed on you).

The Middle School's Outdoor Education Programme heads outdoors next week with the first of our Year 7 classes heading to our Moray camp on the outskirts of Dwellingup.  The Year 7's departure coincides with the conclusion of another Outdoor Education event, Year 12 boys completing our most strenuous adventure; the 1000km Bibbulmun Track walk.  Why does Scotch College value Outdoor Education so highly?  Why does it run as a continuous programme from Year 5 to Year 10 and then with opportunities to continue it into Year 11 & 12?

At Moray our Year 7 boys will be building hutchies and sleeping under them for the evening: what a great way to learn that preparation and attention to detail is everything.  Who wants to be up at midnight digging a drainage ditch in the rain?  On the river the boys will be canoeing: again another great activity that reinforces the need for teamwork and effective communication, because as some will find, if you don't get it right, the Murray River is very cold.  On the climbing wall, and out orienteering, the boys will learn firsthand that attention to instruction is critical, particularly when it is only given once, and we get to see those boys who encourage and support their mates as the challenge of these activities gets more difficult the further they go.

Very few boy's futures are filled with canoeing, tent building or rock wall climbing and the specific skills associated with these activities sometimes mask the important outcomes that Outdoor Education develops.  Regardless of the field or areas of interest our boys pursue in and beyond school, the soft skills of problem solving, persistence, risk assessment, team work, and collaboration will be at the forefront.  This is why Outdoor Education is such an important part of a Scotch College education.  Our boys heading to Moray next week will come home dirty and tired, with a handful of new stories and friendships and skills they can apply right across the curriculum.