There is one word which, it seems, is becoming the yardstick of educational philosophies. It’s a word which divides many, one which runs up the flagpole with vim, only to be ripped down and burned and stamped upon by its detractors; it is the nail, the colours and the mast. It is, of course, ‘outside’.
Some argue that children need to be outside, whilst others opine the potential dangers of fresh air and greenery. The arguments go something like this.
Those for the ‘O’ word are certain that children require experience of the outside world in order to better understand, and practise being part of, society at large, and that the parameters of the outside presented at school help develop a greater respect for the outside and all it has to offer. In being outside, these Bloods argue, children better learn both how to stay safe and how to appropriately engage and challenge that which appears now and in the future. It is the experience of the outside at school which sets the conditions for successful future participation in all manner of things.
Those against suggest that too much time spent outside, or being ‘blind outside’, can lead to unquestioned ‘outsideness’, which might cause greater problems in the future. These Crips counter-argue that there are too many dangers associated with the outside, and that it would be better to swaddle children in the cradle of internal warmth, with that cradle being definitively inside. It is not necessarily all of the outside which they have a problem with, but for some its implications are dire.
What if, the doves cry, a plane was to fall on a child who is outside? What if, they moan, a dangerous adult was to ask a child to follow them to a darkened place whilst outside? And what if, their bottom lips wobble, just being outside creates a monocultural political entity which threatens to engulf all of Western civilisation with its unquestioning, unchallenging outsideness? Better to be legitimately in than mindlessly out.
Their hawk counterparts sigh, and buzz their waspish wings in frustration. ‘Stop taking things so literally’, they retort, before lining Y7 up in silence for period two.