The importance of learning outside

I am, as the followers of this blog will know, a fan of the brilliant spoken poetry of Sarah Kay. The video above is her poem “Montauk” and has the wonderful line in it….. “there are some things you can’t learn in New York City”.

Indeed there are some things that you can’t learn in a school and in this poem Sarah shows how we are always learning in the world outside of the school gates. We pick up life skills, about dreaming, wandering, climbing and how we relate to others, particularly those closest to us, our family and those who we choose to call our friends.

Yesterday, at my work, I got into a discussion about the way that so many youngsters seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on their computers, or their games machines or watching the T.V. They are learning a lot in all of these activities but it is a closed almost virtual existence.

Sarah is right… you learn by going swimming and looking at people’s faces, you learn swear words that maybe you shouldn’t keep using but at least you know. We learn about the good in people and the bad. We learn how to trust or mistrust and we sometimes learn how to relate to people. We experience physical pain in every fall and that is a learning process. We learn to enjoy the beauty of a wonderful sunset and to understand the beggar on the streets.

As a child I had parks and common land near where I lived in urban London. I learnt so much about the things that I mentioned above whilst I cut my knee open by crashing my bike into a tree. I realised that I was never going to be the great footballer that I wanted to be and I understood the joys and pain of getting completely drenched when a sudden downpour of rain just happened.

My learning was enhanced by these experiences and I feel it is really important that every child has the chance to wander, to feel, to hurt, to experience their own growing self and the changes that are happening in their life and to their body.

“There are some things you can’t learn in London” but to me there was so much that you can.


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