Learnscapes are defined as “places where a learning program has been designed to permit users to interact with the environment”. Their purpose is to promote and extend environmental awareness, by presenting biodiversity as the basis for environmental conservation and ecologically sustainable development. This is achieved through developing school based curricula that engage students interactively with their surrounding environment. Ideally, learnscapes incorporate educational, environmental and social outcomes that reflect the character of the community as well as the school site.
"A Learnscape feature, whether it be an outdoor classroom, worm farm, bush regeneration, recycling area, frog pond or herb garden, is not a Learnscape itself. It is the collaborative process within which the feature is created and plans for how it will be maintained and used for learning once it is created that make the feature a Learnscape".
Founding member and Program Director of the School Learnscapes Trust, Helen Tyas Tunggal emphasises that "Essential to all learnscape development is the active involvement and contribution of students, teachers, parents and other groups within the school community during the planning, preparation and implementation of a design." Helen was awarded the Gold Banksia Environmental Award in 1999. Her efforts were described by the awards' organisers as depicting "the importance of empowering future generations to become competent and involved caretakers of the planet for the next millennium."
Learncape programs also have a “calming effect” on classes, by invoking deeper relationships between students and their teachers.
- NSW Department of Education and Training. (1998) Eco School Program (1998 Update). Sydney: NSW Department of Education and Training Curriculum Support Directorate.
- Learnscapes: Making significant changes in Australian schoolyards. OzEEnews, 77,1.
- Skamp, K & Bergmann, I Teachers’ perceptions of the value and impact of Learnscapes: Implications for practice. School of Education, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.