How Dr Suess and J.R.R Tolkien (plus a sh** tone of research) can help you design a world class outdoor education sequence for your school; then get the executive and your various providers to support your vision

Mr David Gemmell1
1Brighton Grammar School, Brighton, Australia


There is no ‘one size fits all’ outdoor education sequence, and we are kidding ourselves if we think that Outdoor Education is not a luxury item in the academic and co-curricular repertoire of a K-12 school. However, you do not need to have an unlimited budget and a mandate from the Principle to create long lasting and effective programs.

Dr Seuss’ oh the places you’ll go and JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth stories gave me amazing insights into why outdoor education is needed, and a unique language to convey important concepts to students, and parents. Not surprisingly, the research and resources out there about the benefits of outdoor learning support the same insights and offer a different language to convey the same concepts to my executive and fellow educators.

Brighton Grammar’s sequence is not designed to fit any other school, but the lesson’s I have learnt creating, refining and communicating our high quality world class sequence can be transferred. Join me (and some other program designers) as we share some of the lessons we’ve learnt about creating the right program sequence for our schools and delve into the resources available in assessing your current sequence against current trends towards high quality outdoor learning.

David Gemmell is currently the Head of Outdoor Education at Brighton Grammar School in Victoria. He has worked in the outdoor industry around the world, teaching within K-12 and tertiary education plus program designing for not-for-profit and commercial sectors since 2001. After teaching in his childhood home in Northern Canada, David completed an MSc in Outdoor Education at the University of Edinburgh then moved to Victoria and set down roots. Passionate about all water based activities he finds joy and fear waiting to see how his students respond to paddling adventures. One of his biggest challenges is convincing his toddlers that the woods ‘won’t eat them’!

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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