“Every child has the right to an adventure.”
– Bear Grylls
The Cordwalles Environmental Classroom and surrounding area provides the opportunities for exactly that!
Cordwalles has a unique forest and natural outdoor area, located in the lower part of the school grounds. The purpose of the development of the Environmental Classroom has been to ensure full and effective use of this area. The Classroom is very much part of the natural outdoor setting and although it provides shelter and is a wonderful space to have lessons, it has minimal impact on the natural environment.
The Environmental Classroom and the surrounding area, allow for the vital experiential learning opportunities which are so important when educating young boys. “Learning by Doing” is the natural way for children to learn new skills. It enables them to internalize and grasp concepts whilst they are interacting with each other in a hands-on learning situation. The outdoor area lends itself perfectly to specific skill-based activities, as well as freedom within a natural environment to explore, be adventurous and take risks! The opportunities for creative and imaginative experiences are endless and there is something about an outdoor environment which holds an element of danger and excitement upon which boys thrive. The benefits to young boys, of the impact that nature and working with positive people can have, are so far reaching.
In a perfect, natural setting, new ways of learning have opened up to the boys through various activities. The Grade R-7 boys have regular lessons down at the Environmental Classroom. The boys are able to explore the forest as well as the river and have discovered the wonderful creatures which live in these areas. They have made a commitment to care for the natural world and its plants and animals. Their absorbent young minds delight in being in this outdoor environment. The Grade 6 boys take part in a Survival Skills program for the year, initially focussed on preparing them for their Grade 6 Environmental Trip. Some of the learning areas covered include: emergency scene management and basic first aid, knots and lashings, map reading, fire safety and fire lighting, outdoor cooking, stalking skills and navigation.
The Environmental Classroom also provides a base for the boarders who stay in over the weekends, where they can explore and enjoy being in the forest area. Camp-overs are possible and are full of fun and excitement! The Cordwalles cross-country course is run through the area and it is a perfect mountain-biking venue. A successful Orienteering event has been held from the Environmental Classroom and this is a wonderful opportunity for the greater Cordwalles community to discover and explore this wonderful part of the school.
There is a small natural wetland area, as well as the river frontage, which can be utilised. The indigenous forest has been expanding for a number of years through the planting of indigenous trees by the boys annually, on Arbour Day. This variety of ecosystems is wonderful to have in a school environment. Environmental and Conservation issues are carefully taught, to help the boys become more aware of the world in which they live and the part they can play in looking after the Earth.