Students Face Increasing Barriers to Participating in Outdoor Education

Teenagers from Clonard College in Geelong, Victoria are traveling long distances to participate in outdoor education activities, such as climbing Mount Arapiles. These activities, part of the non-compulsory Victoria Certificate of Education (VCE) outdoor education subject, provide students with valuable life skills including risk-taking, decision-making, and independence.

However, students interested in participating in outdoor education are facing challenges. The increasing workload of academic subjects is making it harder for them to find time to attend these activities. Many students feel pressured to drop the subject in favor of more academic subjects like mathematics and English as they approach their year 12 exams.

Despite these obstacles, outdoor education programs offer unique benefits to students. The skills and experiences learned in these programs better prepare them for life after study. Students learn practical skills such as cooking, setting up camp, time management, and communication. They also develop confidence, independence, and resilience. Outdoor education provides a break from the classroom and allows students to learn by doing.

However, there are penalties associated with choosing outdoor education as a VCE subject. The subject’s scores are scaled down, affecting students’ overall ATAR scores, which determine university entry. This penalty discourages many students from choosing outdoor education.

Data from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority shows a decline in outdoor education enrollments as students approach year 12. Many students fear missing class and school assessments that must be completed within strict time frames.

Despite the challenges, outdoor education is a valuable subject for students who are unsure about their career paths. The experiences and skills gained outweigh the impact on ATAR scores. Outdoor education provides opportunities for personal growth, camaraderie, and overcoming challenges.

Teaching outdoor education in an all-girls setting allows students to bond over shared vulnerabilities and fears. It creates a unique space for young women to try new things without feeling judged.

In conclusion, outdoor education programs offer students valuable life skills and experiences. However, increasing academic workloads and penalties associated with the subject are making it more difficult for students to participate. Despite these barriers, outdoor education remains a valuable subject for students and provides them with skills that extend beyond the classroom.