In a way, outdoor education has always been a part of the human culture. In fact, if you think about it, at one time all the education that took place could be considered to be ‘outdoor’ in nature. In the days of the hunters and gatherers, a child learned what he or she need by observing others on the hunt, or when they gathered roots and seeds in the field.
However, with the advent of the shelter, mankind's world was further divided into the idea of "inside" and "outside" with the door and the window acting as the portals between the two worlds. Education for a long time focused on this inner world with the idea of languages, sciences, and the home fire being the focus. For a time, outdoor education took a back seat, but it was never far from the mind.
A Naturalist Perspective
Over time, it was realized that the natural world that was outside of the home offered many unique opportunities and information for the student at large. Outdoor education quickly became a way for the naturalists of the 17th and 18th centuries to learn about the world around them and determine through experimentation some of the mechanics of the world around them.
Today, of course, outdoor education is a continuing of the idea favored by the naturalist who has studied the outdoors. In addition to studying how the natural world works, however, many people are utilizing outdoor education as a way to re-learn the ideas of the hunter and gatherer way of life for a simpler existence, at least for a little while. Most people realize that they can no longer exist as the ancient hunter in today's society, but using outdoor education to learn about the various hunting techniques is a great way to remember what has come before.