Outdoor education

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Outdoor education usually refers to organized learning that takes place in the outdoors. Outdoor education programs sometimes involve residential or journey-based experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous challenges is outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, canoeing, ropes courses and group games. Forest Schools and the John Muir Award are amongst organizations which encourage and provide opportunities for outdoor learning. Outdoor education draws upon the philosophy, theory, and practices of experiential education and environmental education.

A group of Outward Bound participants with physical disabilities after completing a ropes course, c. 1996.
An Outward Bound excursion at Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Scope[edit]

Definitions[edit]

Outdoor education can be simply defined as experiential learning in, for, or about the outdoors. The term ‘outdoor education’, however, is used broadly to refer to a range of organized activities that take place in a variety of ways in predominantly outdoor environments. Common definitions of outdoor education are difficult to achieve because interpretations vary according to culture, philosophy, and local conditions.[1]

Outdoor education is often referred to as synonymous with adventure education, adventure programming, and outdoor learning, outdoor school, adventure therapy, adventure recreation, adventure tourism, expeditionary learning, challenge education, experiential education, environmental education, forest schools and wilderness education. Consensus about the meaning of these terms is also difficult to achieve. However, outdoor education often uses or draws upon these related elements and/or informs these areas. The hallmark of outdoor education is its focus on the "outdoor" side of this education; whereas adventure education would focus on the adventure side and environmental education would focus on environmental. Wilderness education involves expeditions into wilderness "where man is but a visitor." For more information, see Outdoor education definitions (Wikibooks).

Education outside the classroom[edit]

"Education outside the classroom" describes school curriculum learning, other than with a class of students sitting in a room with a teacher and books. It encompasses biology field trips and searching for insects in the school garden, as well as indoor activities like observing stock control in a local shop, or visiting a museum. It is a concept currently enjoying a revival because of the recognition of benefits from the more active style. The Education and Skills Committee[2] of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom has reported that it brings history and art to life, develops social skills, and clearly enhances geography and science.,[3] while DfES has prepared practical guidelines for outdoor activities.[4]

Despite the evidence supporting an extension of outdoor learning for children, there are a number of obstacles in the way. One of these obstacles is risk aversion amongst teachers, parents and others, raising reluctance to such diverse and physical tasks. The journalist Tim Gill has written about parental and institutional risk aversion affecting many activities with children in his book "No Fear".[5] Another obstacle is the perceived high cost of facilitating outdoor learning. Creating an outdoor learning environment needn't cost a great deal, however. The UK Early Years Framework Stage, which outlines best practice in Early Years teaching, asserts that: "Outdoor learning is more effective when adults focus on what children need to be able to do rather than what children need to have. An approach that considers experiences rather than equipment places children at the centre of learning and ensures that individual children's learning and developmental needs are taken account of and met effectively"[6]

Linda Tallent, a UK-based educational consultant who has worked extensively with schools to develop their outdoor spaces into learning environments, agrees. She believes that by focussing on activities and skill development, it is possible to develop an outdoor learning curriculum on a 'shoe string'.[7] She cites a comment by Will Nixon, who reminds readers that 'Using the real world is the way learning has happened for 99.9% of human existence. Only in the last hundred years have we put it into a little box called a classroom.'.[8] Tallent also refers to evidence from a number of studies that the most effective way of learning is through participation, and calls on educators to make a special effort to create opportunities for children to participate in their learning.

Aims[edit]

Some typical aims of outdoor education are to:

  • learn how to overcome adversity
  • enhance personal and social development
  • develop a deeper relationship with nature.

Outdoor education spans the three domains of self, others, and the natural world. The relative emphasis of these three domains varies from one program to another. An outdoor education program can, for example, emphasize one (or more) of these aims to:

History[edit]

Field-trip - school children outdoors listening to man, c. 1899, USA

Modern outdoor education owes its beginnings to a number of separate initiatives. Organized camping was evident in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century in Europe, the UK, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand. The Scouting movement, established in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell, employs non-formal education with an emphasis on practical outdoor activities. The first Outward Bound centre at Aberdovey in Wales was established during the Second World War. The Forest schools of Denmark are examples of European programs with similar aims and objectives.

A key outdoor education pioneer was Kurt Hahn, a German educator who founded schools such as the Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, Gordonstoun School in Scotland, Atlantic College in Wales, the United World Colleges movement, the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme (which emphasizes community service, craftsmanship skills, physical skill, and outdoor expeditions), and the Outward Bound movement.

The second half of the twentieth century saw rapid growth of outdoor education in all sectors (state, voluntary, and commercial) with an ever-widening range of client groups and applications. In this period Outward Bound spread to over 40 countries around the world, including the USA in the 1960s. Other US based outdoor education programs include Project Adventure and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Project Adventure focuses on day use of ropes courses. NOLS uses the outdoor setting to train leaders for outdoor programs and for other settings including training every new US astronaut and 10% of the US Naval Academy. The Association for Experiential Education is a professional association for "experiential" educators. The Wilderness Education Association (WEA) is a consortium of college outdoor education programs with a standard curriculum based on an academic model. (See also North America in the Around the World section.)

A history of outdoor education in the UK has been documented by Lyn Cook (1999) .[9] and a history of outdoor education in New Zealand has been published in Pip Lynch's 'Camping in the Curriculum' (2007).[10] Also see History of outdoor education.

Philosophy and theory[edit]

Philosophy and theory about outdoor education tends to emphasise the effect of natural environments on human beings, the educative role of stress and challenge, and experiential learning.[1]

One view is that participants are at their "rawest" level when outdoors because they are "stripped" of many of the conveniences of modern life. Participants can become more aware that they are part of a greater ecosystem and are not as bound by social customs and norms. In essence participants can be true to themselves and more able to see others as people regardless of race, class, religion etc. Outdoor education also helps instill the basic elements of teamwork because participants often need to work together and rely on others. For many people a high ropes course or an outdoor activity may stretch their comfort zone and cause them to challenge themselves physically which in turn can lead to challenging oneself mentally.

The roots of modern outdoor education can be found in the philosophical work of:

Foundational work on the philosophy of outdoor education includes work by:

A wide range of social science and specific outdoor education theories and models have been applied in an effort to better understand outdoor education. Amongst the key theoretical models or concepts are:

Around the world[edit]

Outdoor education occurs, in one form or another, in most if not all countries of the world. However, it can be implemented very differently, depending on the cultural context. Some countries, for example, view outdoor education as synonymous with environmental education, whilst other countries treat outdoor education and environmental education as distinct. Modern forms of outdoor education are most prevalent in UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and to some extent Asia and Africa. For more information, see Outdoor education around the world (Wikibooks).

The UK: The UK has established an English Outdoor Council where they have defined outdoor education as a way for students and teachers to be fully engaged in a lesson, all the while embracing the outdoors. The UK deems outdoor education as "providing depth to the curriculum and makes an important contribution to students’ physical, personal and social education."[12] The English Outdoor Council has developed 11 outcomes of outdoor education for educators to look towards when developing curriculum documents. They are as follows: enjoyment, confidence, social awareness, environmental awareness, activity skills, personal qualities, key skills, health & fitness, increased motivation & appetite for learning and broadened horizons. They seek to encourage all schools in The UK to participate in outdoor education, as the council believes it is a way for students to expand their minds and ability to grow with nature.

Outdoor Education in The UK:

The USA: The USA's founding fathers of outdoor education are two mountaineers who have a passion for teaching others about the environment. Paul Petzoldt and Willi Unsoeld believed in educating students and adults through nature, and incorporated outdoor education in The USA over the years. There are many ways that outdoor education is present in The USA, due largely in part to the national parks, shorelines, and tight-knit communities who are proud to call their backyard a wilderness oasis.[13]    Within The USA, outdoor educators teach such things as being 'one with nature', scientific excursions, and team building courses. From The Colorado Mountains, to the sandy shores of Florida, outdoor education is present within the many organizations and companies who work towards developing sound outdoor education sanctuary for all to embrace.

Outdoor Education in The USA:

Australia & New Zealand: Australia & New Zealand are home to a plethora of outdoor education certificate programs within each country. With such pristine coastlines, and mountainous areas, there is much to explore through the art of outdoor education. Once teachers have completed there schooling, many have opportunities to work at various outdoor education centres in either country. The Australian outdoor council has developed curriculum documents to ensure schools are partaking in outdoor education throughout the country.

Outdoor Education in Australia & New Zealand:

Canada: Canada is well known for its outdoor education experiences. With Ontario's Algonquin Park, to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, there is much to boast about in terms of outdoor education. Environmental education, most notably outdoor education in Canada is seen through outdoor camp and residential programs, school-based programs and commercial travel operations. Outdoor education in Canada is based around "“hard” technical skills—often travel and camping skills - and the “soft” - group skills and personal growth qualities—are blended with, one might say, the ”green” and ”warm” skills of a complementary eco-adventure focus."[14] Adventures are found whether one is partaking in environmental awareness or team-building workshops throughout Canada. Many schools and after-school programs such as The YMCA camps lean towards outdoor education, especially during the summer months.

Outdoor Education in Canada:  

Research and critical views[edit]

There is much anecdotal evidence about benefits of outdoor education experiences; teachers, for example, often speak of the improvement they have in relationships with students following a trip. However, hard evidence showing that outdoor education has a demonstrable long-term effect on behaviour or educational achievement is harder to identify; this may be in part because of the difficulty involved in conducting studies which separate out the effects of outdoor education on meaningful outcomes.

A major meta-analysis of 97 empirical studies indicated a positive overall effect of adventure education programs on outcomes such as self-concept, leadership, and communication skills.[15] This study also indicated that there appeared to be ongoing positive effects. The largest empirical study of the effects of outdoor education programs (mostly Outward Bound programs) found small-moderate short-term positive impacts on a diverse range of generic life skills, with the strongest outcomes for longer, expedition-based programs with motivated young adults, and partial long-term retention of these gains.[16]

In "Adventure in a Bun", Chris Loynes[17] has suggested that outdoor education is increasingly an entertainment park consumption experience. In a paper entitled "The Generative Paradigm",[18] Loynes has also called for an increase in “creativity, spontaneity and vitality". These dialogues indicate a need for those working in outdoor education to examine assumptions to ensure that their work is educational (Hovelynck & Peeters, 2003)[citation needed].

Outdoor education has been found more beneficial to those students who find classroom learning more challenging[citation needed].[19] Maynard, Waters & Clement (2013) [20] found that, resonating with their previous findings, the teachers in their study reported “that when engaged in child-initiated activity in the outdoor environment, over half of the children who in the classroom were perceived to be ‘underachieving’ appeared to behave differently” (p. 221). Their work aims to support the notion that the more natural outdoor spaces in which child-initiated activities take place both directly and indirectly diminish the perception of underachievement. This is important because a number of studies have shown that expectations based on perception of students is important for student learning.[21]

This may also be due to a non-academic family background, a personal psychological trait such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or because they are boys.[22]

When German children from forest kindergartens went to primary school, teachers observed a significant improvement in reading, writing, mathematics, social interactions and many other areas.[23] A yearlong study was done where a group of 9th and 12th grade students learned through outdoor education. The focus was on raising the critical thinking skills of the students as a measure of improvement, where critical thinking was defined to be, “the process of purposeful self-regulatory judgment and decision making”. The problem solving capabilities included the ability of students to interpret, to analyze, to evaluate, to infer, to explain and to self-regulate. Researchers found that both 9th and 12th graders scored higher than the control groups in critical thinking by a significant amount.[24] Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for learning (EIC) is the foundation of a substantial report[25] which found benefits in learning outside the classroom on standardized measures of academic achievement in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies; reduced discipline problems; and increased enthusiasm for learning and pride in accomplishments.

Trends[edit]

There are several important trends and changing circumstances for outdoor education, including:

See also[edit]

Wiki sister projects[edit]

Activities[edit]

Associations[edit]

Organizations[edit]

People[edit]

Name Notability Reference
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell Founder of the Scout Movement and The Scout Association.[26][27] Lord Baden-Powell and Kurt Hahn are arguably the most famous experiential / outdoor / adventure educators of the 20th century.
Daniel Carter Beard Outdoorsman. Founder of the Boy Pioneers. Co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America and the Camp Fire Girls. [28]
Tom Brown Proponent of wilderness living, conservation, and spirituality.
Helen Herz Cohen Director of Camp Walden, an all-girls summer camp in Maine.
Mark Collard Experiential educator. Project Adventure Certified Trainer. [29]
Tim Corcoran Teacher of wilderness skills, nature awareness, and spiritual philosophy. Founded Headwaters Outdoor School. Authored Growing Up with a Soul Full of Nature. [30]
Joseph Cornell Nature educator and author. His Sharing Nature with Children has had wide international influence.
Edward Urner Goodman Scoutmaster. Camp Director, Treasure Island Scout Reservation. National Program Director, Boy Scouts of America. Founder, Order of the Arrow. [31][32]
Bear Grylls / Edward Michael Grylls Outdoor adventurer; summitted Mt. Everest. Chief Scout of The Scout Association.
Luther Halsey Gulick Proponent of Playground Education. Co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America and the Camp Fire Girls. YMCA Hall of Fame inductee 1992.
Kurt Hahn / Kurt Matthias Robert Martin Hahn Experiential educator. Founder of Schule Schloss Salem, Gordonstoun, and United World Colleges system. Founded Outward Bound® with Lawrence Durning Holt and Jim Hogan.[33] Originator of the Moray Badge, the forerunner of the County Badge (developed by Jim Hogan), which was the forerunner of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.[34] Baden-Powell and Kurt Hahn are arguably the most famous experiential / outdoor / adventure educators of the 20th century. [35][36][37]
William Hillcourt Boy Scout; Scoutmaster; Scouting professional. Served in various positions in the Boy Scouts of America. Authored many books and articles on Scouting, outdoor activities, and Scout skills, including the first Scout Fieldbook and three editions of the Boy Scout Handbook of the BSA. Endeavored to maintain the outdoor orientation of US Boy Scouting. [38]
Harold S. Keltner (1893-1986) and Joseph Friday (1888-1955) Founders of the YMCA Indian Guides - forerunner of the YMCA Adventure Guides and YMCA Roper Guides. [39]
James Kielsmeier Outward Bound® instructor. Proponent of experiential education and service learning. Founder of the National Youth Leadership Council and the Center for Experiential Education and Service-Learning (University of Minnesota).
Ernst Killander Soldier; Boy Scout leader; propagator of orienteering.
Richard Louv Journalist. Proponent of nature awareness and opponent of what he termed "nature-deficit disorder."
John P. Milton Conducted life transformation journeys in wilderness areas of Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. Founder of Sacred Passage and The Way of Nature Fellowship. [40][41]
Joshua Lewis Miner, III Worked at Gordonstoun; took Kurt Hahn's ideas to the USA. Co-founder of Colorado Outward Bound® School with Charles Froelicher. Founder of Outward Bound® USA. Inspired use of outdoor education in the Peace Corps. [42][43]
Ohiyesa / Charles Alexander Eastman North American Indian of the Isáŋyathi tribe of the Dakota nation; physician; author; worked closely with YMCA, Woodcraft Indians, and YMCA Indian Guides; co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America and Camp Fire Girls; YMCA Hall of Fame inductee 2010. [44][45][46][47]
Kenneth Oldham Conducted hiking, climbing, and outdoor education activities for children. First head of Whitehough Camp school, Lancashire, 1956-1983. [48]
Tony Pammer Canoeing instructor. Co-founder and CEO of the Outdoor Education Group. [49]
Jerry Pieh Outward Bound® instructor and school principal who pioneered the introduction of Outward Bound® methods into the mainstream school system; father of Project Adventure (founded with Mary Ladd Smith, Robert Lentz, Karl Rohnke, Jim Schoel and others), which gave impetus to Adventure-Based Counseling. [50]
Edgar Munroe Robinson YMCA summer camp director. The man who actually set up the fledgling Boy Scouts of America organization on its feet. YMCA Hall of Fame inductee 2000. [51]
Karl Rohnke Outward Bound® instructor. Author of books on ropes courses and adventure education, including The Complete Ropes Course Manual.[52] Co-founder, Project Adventure. Recipient, National Outdoor Book Award.
Bradley James Rowe Proponent of scuba diving, river rafting, adventure programming, ecotourism, and sustainable development. Instructor, Colorado Outward Bound® School. Founder of Save the Rainforest Expeditions School and Outward Bound® Costa Rica. [53]
Ernest Thompson Seton Founded the Woodcraft Indians and the Woodcraft League. Inspiration and major source of Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys. Co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America and the Camp Fire Girls. Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. [54][55]
Mark Wagstaff Outdoor, environmental, adventure, and challenge educator. Served in many positions with many organizations, including the North Carolina Outward Bound® School, the Wilderness Education Association, and Leave No Trace. EdD, Oklahoma State U, 1997 (dss: Outdoor Leader Self-Awareness and Its Relationship to Co-Leaders' Perceptions of Influence). [56]
Jonathan R. Young Leader, educator and author on nature observation and environmental awareness. Founded Wilderness Awareness School. Created Kamana Naturalist Training Program. Authored Seeing Through Native Eyes and other works. [57][58]

See also List of 20th-century outdoor proponents and outdoor educators

Topics[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Outdoor recreation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.trunity.net/lifegermination/topics/view/23121/
  2. ^ Education and Skills Committee, House of Commons
  3. ^ Education Outside the Classroom. House of Commons. 2005. 
  4. ^ DfES's leaflet on Learning Outside the Classroom
  5. ^ Gill, Tim (2007). No fear: Growing up in a Risk Averse society. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-903080-08-5. 
  6. ^ Early Years Framework Stage 'Effective Practice: Outdoor Learning", 2007 http://eyfs.keymedia.info/resources/downloads/3.3b_ep.pdf
  7. ^ Linda Tallent, 'Outdoor Learning', 2007
  8. ^ Will Nixon, 'Letting Nature Shape Childhood', The Amicus Journal, Fall 1997, in Linda Tallent 'Outdoor Learning' 2007
  9. ^ Cook L. (1999). The 1944 Education Act and outdoor education: from policy to practice. History of Education, 28(2), 157-172. ISBN 0-473-10583-7
  10. ^ Lynch, P. (?). Camping in the Curriculum: A History of Outdoor Education in New Zealand Schools. PML publications, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand.
  11. ^ Walsh, V., & Golins, G. L. (1976). The exploration of the Outward Bound process. Denver, CO: Colorado Outward Bound School.
  12. ^ EnglishOutdoor Council. (n.d.). High QualityOutdoor Education. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from English Outdoor Council:http://www.englishoutdoorcouncil.org/HQOE.pdf
  13. ^ Watters, R. (1986). HistoricalPerspectives of Outdoor and Wilderness Recreation in the United States.Retrieved July 19, 2013, from Outdoor Education Papers:http://www.isu.edu/outdoor/history.htm
  14. ^ Henderson, B., & Potter, G. T. (n.d.). Outdoor AdventureEducation in Canada: Seeking The Country Way Back In. 227-242.
  15. ^ Hattie, J. A., Marsh, H. W., Neill, J. T. & Richards, G. E. (1997). Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of-class experiences that have a lasting effect. Review of Educational Research, 67, 43-87.
  16. ^ Neill, J. T. (2008). Enhancing personal effectiveness: Impacts of outdoor education programs. PhD thesis. Sydney: University of Western Sydney.
  17. ^ Loynes, Chris (1998). "Adventure in a Bun". Journal of Experiential Education 21 (1): 35–39. 
  18. ^ Loynes, Chris (2002). "The Generative Paradigm". JAEOL 2 (2). 
  19. ^ http://journals2.scholarsportal.info.proxy.library.brocku.ca/tmp/15268205833594959310.pdf
  20. ^ Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com.proxy.library.brocku.ca/doi/pdf/10.1080/09575146.2013.771152
  21. ^ http://ehis.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.brocku.ca/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=fc81d6ce-ccbe-4a74-abe9-8b48b590b8bd@sessionmgr115&hid=3
  22. ^ Sax L. (2001) Reclaiming Kindergarten: Making Kindergarten Less Harmful to Boys in Psychology of Men & Masculinity (2001) 2.1 pp3-12
  23. ^ Gorges R. Waldkindergartenkinder Im Ersten Schuljahr (in German)
  24. ^ Ernest; Monroe (2004). "The effects of environment-based education on students’ critical thinking skills and disposition toward critical thinking". Environmental Education Research 10 (4): 522. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  25. ^ Lieberman, Gerald A.; Hoody, Linda L. (1998). Closing the Achievement Gap. State Education and Environment Round Table. 
  26. ^ The Scout Movement is the most widespread associated network of outdoor adventure-based education implementers.
  27. ^ Aside from Scouting affiliates, there also have been organizations which sprouted out and away from the root Scout idea.[1]
  28. ^ Books by Daniel Carter Beard
  29. ^ Inspire Your Group
  30. ^ Headwaters Outdoor School Teachers
  31. ^ Block, Nelson, 2000, A Thing of the Spirit: the life of E. Urner Goodman, Boy Scouts of America.
  32. ^ Davis, Kenneth (PhD history, U Virginia; Colonel, US Army), The Brotherhood of Cheerful Service: a history of the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America, 1990, 1995, 2000. ISBN 0839549989. ISBN 978-0839549987.
  33. ^ The reputation of Outward Bound® is such that it has been the industry standard for outdoor adventure education.
  34. ^ which in turn gave birth to the International Award Association
  35. ^ Birth of Outward Bound
  36. ^ A New York City public school was named after him - The Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School.
  37. ^ Kurt Hahn
  38. ^ Block, Nelson, "William Hillcourt: Scoutmaster to the World", The Journal of Scouting History.
  39. ^ National Longhouse
  40. ^ The Way of Nature Fellowship
  41. ^ John Milton
  42. ^ Miner, Joshua & Joseph Boldt, Outward Bound USA: learning through experience in adventure-based education, William Morrow & Co, 1981.
  43. ^ Miner, Joshua & Joseph Boldt, Outward Bound USA: Crew, Not Passengers, Mountaineers Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0-89886-874-6
  44. ^ Charles Alexander Eastman
  45. ^ Martinez, David, 2009 Dakota Philosopher, St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press, ISBN 0-87351-629-X.
  46. ^ World Wisdom has published The Essential Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), 2007, edited by Michael Fitzgerald.
  47. ^ See Charles Eastman books at Gutenberg
  48. ^ Kenneth Oldham
  49. ^ Outdoor Education Group
  50. ^ Project Adventure Evolution
  51. ^ Scouting in the United States
  52. ^ ISBN 0757540325. ISBN 978-0757540325.
  53. ^ CROBS Team
  54. ^ Witt, David, 2010, Ernest Thompson Seton: The Life and Legacy of an Artist and Conservationist, Gibbs Smith. ISBN 1423603915. ISBN 978-1423603917.
  55. ^ Seton, Julia, By a Thousand Fires, 1967.
  56. ^ Mark Wagstaff
  57. ^ Jon's Biography
  58. ^ 8 Shields Books

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