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When Ian Gilbert Caught Up With Juliet Robertson

What happened when Ian Gilbert called in to chat with the ever-inspirational Juliet Robertson about outdoor learning and living with leukaemia?

For many years, the go-to person in the UK for all things 'outdoor learning' has been the amazing Juliet Robertson.

Her books Dirty Teaching* and Messy Maths are both best sellers and her Creative Star blog is full of ideas and strategies to help all teachers tap into the many benefits of taking children and young people out of the classroom to learn.

In December 2020, Juliet was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia and, in 2023, she was received a rather bleak prognosis.

Yet, we are pleased to say, Juliet is still very much with us.

Having been part of Independent Thinking for so long, we felt it was important that Juliet was part of our 30th birthday Big day Out conference and celebrations in June 2024, despite not being able to travel from her home in the north of Scotland. 

So, our Ian Gilbert made a pit stop on his way to the event to meet up with Juliet and interview her in her garden about outdoor learning, how to set about it, how it works for secondary as well as primary teaching and its many, many benefits.

He also spoke with her about living with her blood cancer and her inspiring approach to life and death.

What's more, a few days later, Juliet was awarded an honorary degree from Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University.

In their press release, the university stated:

Juliet Robertson, one of Scotland’s leading educators specialising in outdoor learning and play, has been awarded an honorary degree by Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh in a special ceremony at the University’s new outdoor learning hub. Juliet, who is known throughout the education profession as a trailblazer for outdoor learning and play for children and young people, was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Education in recognition of her significant contribution to learning.

We are delighted for Juliet to receive such recognition for her work and agree whole-heartedly with their description of her - a 'trailblazer' indeed.

The short video captures her creative ideas, the quiet and reassuring confidence she exudes in her work and the generosity of her spirit.

Juliet has lived longer than her doctors said she would.

We love her contrarian nature too! [ITL]

You can read more about Juliet's journey on her Caring Bridge website pages here.

*We have a small number of signed copies of Dirty Teaching we are auctioning off to raise money for the Limbo Foundation, a charity close to Juliet's heart and ours.

Email with your bid. Anything over the RRP of £20 please.

About the author

Juliet Robertson

Juliet is an experienced teacher and headteacher who is a leading authority on outdoor learning. She is the author of Dirty Teaching and the award-winning Messy Maths.

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