Let’s have class outside!

Birds chirping and fat bumble bees lazily flying to and fro, enmeshed with the smell of fresh-cut grass, reminds us that spring has arrived and, yet, something seems amiss.

As the warm winds begin to blow across Guilford’s campus, I’m not immune to the spring fever that is best described by author Mark Twain: “It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

There I was, dashing into Duke Hall en route to class, nearly running over prospective classmates taking a tour and I heard the tour guide say, “And when the weather is nice, you’ll notice classes taught out in the grassy areas.”

Those words caused me to think of the last time I enjoyed a class on the lawn: it had been years. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I think breaking the monotony of the institutional nature of the classroom and going outside once in a while seems healthy in a holistic way.

Having classes outside connects us to school and grounds intimately and helps build community in ways that are uniquely Guilford.

In a Guilfordian survey of 30 students, 30 percent said that the idea of having classes in the yard was a selling point of coming to Guilford, while 13.3 percent said having class outdoors didn’t affect their decision.

Having classes outdoors can be a fun and relaxing way to make students feel more comfortable with professors and their peers.

It’s understandable that classrooms are necessary for their utility, and it makes sense that some professors prefer to hold class indoors based the requirements of a particular subject. Surely one wouldn’t have a biology lab in the middle of the quad.

It is also true that class outside can become quite distracting due to noise, people, animals and allergies. However, there is a flip side to that coin.

“The institutionalization of education has diminished the connection that students and professors alike have with the natural world,” said first-year Briana Halliwell. “It has conditioned us to believe that indoor comforts cannot be obtained through nature, which isn’t necessarily true.”

While I’m not the stereotypical “tree hugger,” I think it is vital that students are given the chance to experience firsthand the natural world and life outside of a classroom or book. Holding more classes outside is one step in the right direction, and will provide a change of scenery and a healthy approach to education that no technology could ever provide.