August 7, 2021 | David F. Coppedge

The Teaching Power of Nature

Scientists continue to find reasons for getting outdoors
and observing the beauty of the world


Why the outdoors should be an integral part of every early learning and child-care program (The Conversation). Christine Alden, a Canadian grad student in education, cites studies that show the outdoors is an ideal classroom for children.

In the outdoors children can move freely, follow their interests, take risks and test their limits. This translates into children who are happier, more active, curious, confident and collaborative. High-quality outdoor environments create optimal conditions for learning.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that outdoors is healthful too, she adds. The possibilities for outdoor education already exist in many areas but should be expanded and put to best use. Teacher training is a good part of it; an increase in outdoor education can have benefits for teachers.

Passionate professionals in parks, conservation and outdoor education might reimagine their careers through early childhood education in outdoor learning environments if supported to make the transition. Recruiting for outdoor programs may also attract more males to early childhood education. The fact that educators report their own improved well-being and professional engagement outdoors may help attract and retain more early childhood educators.

Alden points to Scotland as a good example of outdoor emphasis in education and hopes Canada will use it as a model. The United States has even more potential with its more temperate climate year round for outdoor educational experiences.

Living near woodlands is good for children and young people’s mental health (University College London). If outdoor nature is good for children, how about living closer to it? “Children and young people’s proximity to woodlands has been linked with better cognitive development and a lower risk of emotional and behavioural problems,” researchers at UCL found.

Credit: Corel Pro Photos

Even Pictures Help

‘Virtual nature’ experiences in prisons reduce stress (University of Utah). What can be more depressing than staring at four walls of a prison cell day after day? ‘They’re getting what they deserve,’ many might think. But how about the poor officers who have to deal with grumpy prisoners? It would seem in the best interest of everyone to take steps to alleviate prisoner stress. That’s what researchers from the University of Utah tested. Who wouldn’t benefit from a few minutes’ break watching this suggested video on YouTube?

Nalini Nadkarni has been testing the reactions of prisoners to nature sounds and visuals for 20 years. Surprisingly, she has found, audio experiences relieved stress just as much or more than video experiences. After the experiences, not only were stress levels reduced, but the prisoners showed an interest in learning more about science and nature. The experience helps prepare them for re-entering society after incarceration.

If you’re not a prisoner, there’s something in this study for you: “Nadkarni hopes the results can be applied to people in other institutional or nature-deprived environments, such as residential treatment center, senior assisted living centers, or even windowless cubicles for office workers.

Earlier research has shown that shut-ins in hospitals heal faster when exposed to images of nature’s beauty (e.g., 4 April 2020, 29 Dec 2008).

Have you had your nature fix today? Try making outdoor walking a part of your daily routine, and make it a point to look at the trees, the sky, watch for birds, and notice even small animals and bugs. Do it as an experiment to see if it helps your sense of well-being.

Outdoor health and education is something all scientists can agree on, whatever their beliefs about origins. Christians, though, have a greater reason to benefit because we believe the good and beautiful things in creation reflect the wisdom and design of a loving God. Why would evolutionists celebrate the unplanned products of chance and selfishness? Why is the world as beautiful as it is? Darwin couldn’t explain that. Watch this from the John 10:10 Project from Illustra Media:


Creation Safaris is a ministry of Master Plan Association along with Creation-Evolution Headlines. Tonight we expect some 50 people to join us for a mountaintop Star Party, where we will learn about creation evidences in the heavens and enjoy the feeling of awe and wonder at looking through celestial objects through telescopes.

Star Party on a mountaintop (DFC)

Watch the videos on the front page of (click front page to open player). They might inspire you to begin a similar ministry at your church or incorporate outdoor education at your school. AWE is good for you (30 June 2019, 20 June 2021, 31 May 2015, 21 August 2017).


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