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School grounds as sites for learning: Making the most of environmental opportunities

Drawing on the findings of an ARC funded project, 'Children's Environments and the Role of School Grounds for Enhancing Environmental Cognition', this paper explores the question: What is the role of school grounds as sites for teaching and learning? Observation and interview data for five Australian primary schools displayed large differences between schools in the types of play that eight to 10-year-old children engaged in. In particular, play behaviours categorised as involving environmental cognition were not observed at all in one school, yet were the dominant play behaviour observed in another. The paper explores the relative importance of the school ground environment and the (outdoor) educational philosophy adopted by the school.

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