From remote learning to outdoor learning? The pandemic is reshaping the ways we think about the traditional classroom.

Outdoor lessons were an integral part of school life in Scandinavia even before the pandemic started to wreak havoc in Europe. Education officials in countries like Denmark are now planning to increase the numbers of lessons taught outside in a bid to reduce virus transmissions risks at the country's schools. The logic behind the move is simple: pupils are less likely to contract the virus outside.

Even before the pandemic, the pioneering Danish model had already inspired other countries. The Anna-Essinger secondary school in Ulm, Germany, for instance implemented one day of outdoor learning per week, regardless of the weather.

Advantages of outdoor lessons

Schools found that pupils display more motivation and concentration if they are taught outside. Another advantage is that the relationship between teachers and pupils seems to improve with outdoor lessons. One study also found that the pupils' cortisol levels were normalising when they were outside in nature.

Pupils from Ulm's Anna-Essinger secondary school are writing on boards, they are handed out plastic sheets or large DIN A-3 sheets, and they sit on special cushions. Outdoor lessons are also organised differently than their indoor counterparts. There are, however, not many schools in Germany yet that have tried similar approaches.

What about Luxembourg?

Several municipalities in Luxembourg offer forest nursery schools. In other words, the children are outside all day. Educational trips have also already existed in Luxembourg's primary schools before the pandemic struck. These excursions are particularly recommended for natural sciences lessons.

The pupils for instance observe pants and animals in the forests, visit a castle to learn about history, or strengthen their mathematical skills by getting a feel for how long one kilometer is in real life. Needless to say, the pupils are also automatically exercising more than if they simply sat inside the classroom.

When schools reopened after the easing of lockdown restrictions, Minister of Education Claude Meisch recommended that similar excursions become more commonplace in Luxembourg's schools. Educational school trips represent a fun way for pupils to discover new things, and to better assimilate what they were taught in the classroom.