why do forest school, why make music outdoors?

  • The value of being outdoors – ask adults what their most vivid positive childhood memories are and most will say being in nature – and most are of being with other children, not supervised by adults.
  • The value of risk – instead of thinking about risk assessment, think in terms of risk benefit. When a child falls over on rough ground, or climbs and falls off a log, they are learning and will naturally have another go in order to succeed. They are pushing out the boundaries of their abilities.
  • Explorative learning – there are few or no pre-defined outcomes or functions. Just as children can use a stick and mud in any number of ways, so they can use musical resources in a freer way outdoors than indoors.
  • Validating children’s self-exploration – we can’t predict what a child will be interested in, and it’s most useful to take interest in and value whatever they are engaged in – even if it has no relation to our carefully planned stimulus and activities!
  • Aural freedom – children can make much louder noises without disturbing others. When a whole class of children make music in the classroom there is usually one child at least with their hands on their ears because of the noise levels. Outdoors, children can be playing loud drums in one area, while 50 yards away other children are making gentle sounds using soft chime bars, and both groups have the freedom to enjoy what they’re doing.
  • Emotional freedom – Humans have only spent most of their time inside buildings for about two hundred years of our evolutionary history. Just as rooms are rigid geometric shapes, there is a corresponding internal expectation that we take on about who we are when we are indoors, which we shed in nature. In the classroom children tend to aim for what they think the teacher wants, outdoors they go for what they want. They are able to develop their true selves, not just their socially acceptable self.
  • Restoring diminished opportunities – only 10% of children and young people today have regular contact with natural environments, compared with 40% when today’s adults were young.