OWIS Nanyang: Outdoor Learning Part 2

Michelle Dickinson
Updated on
August 25, 2020

At OWIS, we believe that outdoor learning is a vital component of a well-rounded education. Our green spaces encourage physical activity, hands-on learning and an appreciation for the environment. Renowned English poet, Willian Wordsworth once said, "Let nature be your teacher”. We prepare students to abide by this adage throughout life, instilling in them principles of environmental stewardship and leadership skills to set an example for others to follow.


Our nature classrooms are the ideal venues for learning and playing. Especially in the Early Childhood years, where it is so important that learning and play be interwoven, as the students progress to the primary years, outdoor learning has already been established and must be fostered. Secondary students are eager to take their rightful place as protectors of the environment. What better way to encourage them than incorporating outdoor activity via our nature Classrooms?

There are many benefits to out of the classroom learning for teachers and students at OWIS Nanyang. Our 32,000 square meters campus has grounds that extend the existing learning space and inspire the natural curiosity that each student possesses. Weaving the outdoor environment into our campus also shows our students how nature and infrastructure can beautifully link together and work in harmony. Even with our intimate student numbers (a maximum of 24 per classroom), enthusiasm should, as they say, “hit the roof, once students set foot in the “wide open” spaces of our campus”. We aim to make our students passionate thinkers who put the skills that they learn at OWIS into their daily lives. Being surrounded by nature helps to support this and give them the freedom they need to develop into well-rounded individuals.

Benefits of the Nature Classroom

  • Hands-On Learning: The most effective method of learning is by doing. When OWIS students of all levels take part in experiential learning outdoors, they are simply engaged at a deeper level. From our Early Childhood students and their experiences with the planting garden, to our primary school’s enjoyment of all the wonder that the Miniature Forest holds, to our secondary students and the opportunity to take in the beauty and comforting presence of the Tree Deck, the natural world holds a fascination for all. They are able to be tactile, use all of their senses and form bonds with the environment. They can observe and experience nature without just seeing it in a book, through TV or online. They learn to be caring, gentle and adaptable.

  • Fun Gathering Place: There’s no doubt that our students have fun in our outdoor classrooms. For those in our Early Childhood programme, for whom play is the portal to lifelong learning, to our primary students, as well as our secondary students, our nature classrooms provide the ideal gathering places and backdrop for opportunities to connect and forge bonds throughout our diverse student population. Education should be fun, we should laugh and play and we should look back at our experiences with happy memories. This is why enjoyment is at the centre of our learning and we ensure we have the facilities to support this.

  • Nature Eases Stress: At One World International School, you will find nature as an essential theme throughout. We incorporate nature’s colours and design in our indoor as well as outdoor classrooms. The peaceful and serene atmosphere promoted both inside and outside aims to ease many of the everyday stresses. The experience of dealing with occasional stresses during their time in education will help give our students the skills and management tools to deal with any difficulties which they may come under in later life.

  • Nature’s Lessons are Endless: There is always something to be learned in our nature classrooms. From observing life forms supported by our Miniature Forest, students learn about the importance of the ecosystem. The Sensory Garden can teach many lessons, from the life cycle of plants and flowers to how certain types of creatures depend on these elements for their very lives. The biodiversity of the garden and the forest opens our students’ eyes to the wider world. The relationships between different plants and insect species help to teach the students about balance within nature. The Tree Deck affords students a place to pause and reflect, necessary to succeed in learning and in life. It opens their minds and makes them appreciate the world and opportunities around them. It links the natural and man-made world in complete harmony.

Not all students are “inside learners” and the nature classrooms allow those students to engage a bit of sensory relaxation. It allows them to step out of the type of environment which is so often seen as ‘normal’ within the world of education and gives them something so different and special. The chance to be at one with nature. To see all her changing colours and to learn from their surroundings. Simply put, the outdoor environment supports a host of learning opportunities for students of all levels. The beautiful and abundant world outside our doors holds many lessons, the most fundamental being to “Never Stop Learning”.

Please Contact Us today for more information, or to Book a Campus Tour. 

About Author

Michelle Dickinson

Head of School

Michelle has a BA (Hons) in History and South Asian Studies from North London University and PGCE from Middlesex University. She began teaching across all three primary key stages. Michelle began her school leadership career in 2002, when she became the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in North London and spent four wonderful years there before relocating to India in 2005.

Her first international position was the Head of Primary of a local/international school in Bangalore in Southern India, where she introduced the Cambridge International Primary Programme and Checkpoint. Michelle then spent 6 years in China and 3 years in Ethiopia developing curriculum and assessment practices.

Michelle believes that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real life activities. While she recognises that outstanding academic achievement is the ultimate goal, she feels it is just as important to build self-esteem, instill character and encourage a global outlook in every child. Michelle believes that learning transcends the classroom environment and is passionate about educational visits and extra-curricular experiences.

Michelle is married with four children - Ana, Hindya, Bille and Markos. The Dickinson family have a sense of adventure and love of life. They particularly enjoy the outdoors, family holidays, making friends, good weather, camping and exploring and are delighted to be at OWIS.

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