Teaching in the great outdoors

This week Anita Chamberlain gives us a perfect snapshot of her life in Norway as a teacher.

Playing and learning Norwegian style

I began my teaching career in 1994. It seems like a long time ago but I will share with you the fact that I feel as young and optimistic as I did then. I am still learning from past and present colleagues, through reading material on line and in books and of course, I am learning from the biggest influence in my life – the pupils. I taught for ten years in primary schools in the UK before I took the role as Senior Lecturer in Education. Here I taught students on both undergraduate and post graduate degree courses. But then a chance came up to join my partner in Norway. A country in the far North!

I moved to Norway about 4 years ago. People far and wide keep enquiring why I moved and I think ultimately it was out of curiosity and the fact that I was offered a teaching position (albeit back in the primary classroom which I had left ten years before). I suppose I am a risk taker but I believe in taking opportunities when they are offered to you and I put my trust in the universe.

My move was initially a roller coaster ride. Taking in a new language, culture, driving on the other side of the road, the cost of food and teaching a class of 7 year olds. I did miss the UK but the experiences here and life has taken hold of me. The environment is breath-taking with huge fjords, virtually empty beaches and opportunities. The school where I teach is English speaking so I did not have to learn the native language. It is located near to a fjord and a huge forest which have become my extended classroom. I did not need much encouragement to use these environments in my teaching as during my role as a Senior Lecturer I had been reading all about forest schools and outdoor learning.

I believe in using ‘the outdoors’ not only to support but enhance learning (I am an art teacher who is inspired by nature and the environment). I have in the last 4 years not been restricted by Health and Safety legislation and am supported by a principal that is open-minded. I have taken the pupils to the forest each week to climb ropes, write poetry in the trees, create skeletons out of sticks, walked down to the fjord to do litter picks, observational drawings, study wildlife and ended the year with a trip to the beach to do a beach clean-up. The opportunity to take the pupils out to such vivid and opportunistic environments is a must within my teaching.

My role within the school since August this year is to teach Philosophy to Upper Primary and the Secondary pupils and also to teach Visual Art. Mindfulness is the foundation to my teaching and I would like to discuss this next time within this blog.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Anita and we look forward to reading your next post.

2 thoughts on “Teaching in the great outdoors

  1. What a wonderful way for children to learn about their relationships with themselves, others and with their environment. As Anita is a friend of mine, I imagine she is a wonderful and inspiring teacher, who children will remember as a caring and positive influence in their lives.


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