Bridging the Gap: From Indoor Constraints to Outdoor Opportunities in Education
In our previous five white papers, we have covered a plethora of information ranging from the philosophical need for children to have outdoor play in their lives to the detailed process of designing outdoor educational spaces. When we set out to create educational materials for public education providers, we knew that the task before each school of accomplishing improvements or creating new outdoor spaces for students was not a hill to climb, but a mountain in most cases. In speaking with several of our local educational institutions, it was evident that no one knew the right place to start to accomplish these long-term goals, or if they had started to pursue the project, they had met barriers and roadblocks that were difficult to navigate at best. According to renowned economist Ray Perryman, investing in our schools in the state of Texas is the most valuable and highest yield return on investment opportunity available right now.
The Perryman group has produced research stating that
Every dollar invested in the public education system yields +$56.76 in social and public returns.
“This return in public education also dwarfs any return in public investments. While education investments have a return of +$56.76, transportation infrastructure investments only return +$8.01.” The Perryman Group states.
In addition to being a very high return on investment, the timing for making these investments back into the public education system is critical and urgent. Perryman’s economic research in the state of Texas shows 65.9 % of the school age population in Texas accounts for only 11% of the household wealth.
“If we don’t provide the needed resources, educational attainment in the state will trend downward and overall economic performance, opportunity, and standards of living will be eroded over time.” Perryman said.
At this point, based on the research and data presented in our series, along with countless other educational, psychological, and industry research on the subject, we can all agree that experiencing learning opportunities in the outdoors is an essential part of child development. The question that remains for school districts or individual campuses is now,
“Where do we need to invest funding to create new educational opportunities for our students?”
We believe it’s in outdoor spaces.
Evaluating the status of the existing outdoor learning spaces available is always the first step in the process. Armed with the information and research about the outdoor learning environment and exponential benefits of investing resources into our public school systems, the next thing to do is assemble a passionate team to start driving your project forward. When you have the right team with diverse expertise united to help move your project forward, a conceptual idea can eventually be transformed into a reality.
While MHS would love to be a part of every motivated team with a desire to create amazing outdoor educational spaces, our deeper motivation is that educational institutions and governments will catch the passion to transform and utilize the outdoor spaces available to them for the betterment of all students. Through providing this simplified information, we hope that the scope of educational design would be widened from the narrow and often short-sighted, building-focused lens that ignores or devalues the significance and possibilities of the outdoor learning environment. Whenever that passion begins to build, we’ll be here, ready to help take outdoor educational spaces from conception to completion.