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A dean of students substitutes her title and job expectations for three days of sharing wilderness life with her students. A seventh grader identifies a saw-whet owl by its call. A sixteen-year-old student belays a fifty-five-year-old math teacher on his first rock climb . . . These kind of outdoor experiences are becoming more and more common in schools all across the country. And with good reason. Outdoor experiential education is about putting people in a natural environment where the rules are different.

Age, job, money, clothes, cars, status, title, ethnicity, gender, lifestyle, and personal appearance, which often define who we are in our school communities, count for very little in an experientially based outdoor program. Educators are discovering that the external measures of success so common in our everyday lives matter much less outdoors than the more central qualities of honesty, integrity, compassion, confidence, and a strong sense of self-worth.

Experiential programs provide opportunities for individual strengths and weaknesses to come to the fore, allowing individuals and groups to appreciate meaningful differences among people, cutting through the packaging by which most people define and protect themselves. Traditionally the term `outdoor education’ has been applied to activities out-of-doors which involve some degree of physical challenge and risk. (Abbott, pp. 91-98, 2001; Portes, pp. 1–18, 2000) It provides opportunities for learning through experience’.

Adventure’ or outdoor education are areas of the outdoor activities curricula which also embraces such terms as outdoors pursuits, outward bound experiences and the like . (Yair, pp. 124–142, 2003). In addition to the body of academic knowledge, researchers have attempted to impart to students in our classrooms, there are ideals and values we want our students to take from our educational communities when they leave us to become citizens of the world. What do we hope for when we make wishes for our students? Do we wish for high SAT scores?

Perfect results on AP exams? Or do we wish for the qualities just noted? Experiential education can present unequalled opportunities for teachable moments and new insights into human relationships. It is about what happens inside people — the growth and development educators constantly encourage. This understanding of the value of outdoor education (and environmental education) is relatively recent. Twenty-five years ago, only a handful of true outdoor programs existed, and with few exceptions they were barely tolerated by most administrations and faculty.

Because the use of wilderness as a classroom was suspect, most outdoor programs could only schedule trips over weekends and on school breaks. Today, however, almost every independent school offers some kind of environmentally oriented course or outing. Those schools that truly embraced the concept have developed comprehensive outdoor education curricula, hired full-time professional wilderness staff, and run trips that are integrated into the academic year. Discussion

Learning centres are customarily thought of as inside activities, and field trips as outside activities. Outdoor learning centres lessen this distinction, while accommodating and integrating the curriculum. Even in the most crowded schools, students are rarely seen outside during school hours, except in the physical education areas. Teachers and students would benefit from experimenting with ways to use school property, the neighbourhood, and other community spaces.

Outdoor education has been seen as increasingly important in recent educational initiatives. It is frequently a feature of the experiences of pupils involved in the residential components which constitute educational initiatives such as Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI), General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), Certificate of pre-vocational Education (CPVE) etc. The term `outdoor education’ has a multiplicity of interpretations, constituted by various `subject areas and has been formally defined as:

`Education-Out-Of-Doors’ including aspects of many disciplines such as geography, history, art, biology, fieldwork, environmental studies and physical education, depending on context. (Department of Education and Science (DES), 1975) The National Association for Outdoor Education, on the other hand, defines it as: A means of approaching educational objectives through guided direct experience in the environment, using its resources as learning materials. (Royce, pp. 12-14, 1987) Consequently, outdoor education does not fit neatly into compartmentalised and rigidly bounded curricular frameworks.

Arguably, its cross-curricular experiential strengths are a problem when attempts are made to classify and identify outdoor education in the school curriculum (Humberstone, pp. 20, 1989). Behaviour Management through outdoor learning is a systematic approach to promoting positive behaviour for children with social maladjustment issues. Using a continuum of behaviour supports and proactive strategies, this model provides alternatives to expulsion and raises academic and behavioural outcomes and allows children to remain or return to the least restrictive environment.

The coordinated approach customized manual, common language and training by an expert team results in a successful pilot or program that can be readily adapted by educational and professional organizations. The barriers that will need to be overcome to allow outdoor learning to prosper in educational and professional organizations are primarily attitudes towards this approach. There are activities in educational and professional organizations that could be included in the outdoor pursuits “umbrella”. The discipline is not the way it was meant to be presented and used with a group of people.

Schools that would possibly be receptive to the idea of outdoor learning first would be the universities. Mentors there would be interested in bringing a new discipline such as this to educational and professional organizations to introduce to the learners. The barriers to this would be getting the administration to “buy into” the idea and benefits of outdoor learning. Getting a few mentors at the universities and professional organizations to accept the discipline and readily begin teaching it to learners will be great progress towards getting outdoor learning accepted.

The main barriers towards getting outdoor learning introduced in the public schools would be attitudes and then facilities available for the teaching of outdoor learning. There are educational and professional organizations that have the room for activities, but not the equipment required for outdoor pursuits. Similarly, various organizations encourage outdoor learning for their employees, however due to the lack of facilities these ambitious trainings rarely materialize. Outdoor learning in educational and professional organizations is a big step, but one that can ultimately benefit the society beyond comprehension.

The research shows that outdoor learning improves intrapersonal relationships between people and allows them to feel more relaxed and beneficial to the group. It has been shown in programs such as Outward Bound that taking a group of complete strangers and putting them in an unknown and potentially challenging and dangerous situation can have numerous effects on each individual in the group as well as group dynamics. Personalities can be transformed in participants and group attitudes can be changed as well.

One definition was proposed by the Council on Outdoor learning (2004): “Outdoor learning is education, about, and for the out door” (p. 31). According to this definition, outdoor learning is both a place and a topic. The place is the out-of-doors and is meant to include far more than a 1-week camping experience for a particular group of children. Outdoor learning, as defined by the Council, should also include many simple excursions to a wide variety of settings in the out-of-doors, such as a stream, a meadow, a farm, a city park, or even a crack in the wall of the school or the thicket at the edge of the playground.

The topic of outdoor learning, however, is not limited to a scientific study of the natural environment. Studying about the out-of-doors also involves examining the many cultural, aesthetic, and recreational aspects of the natural environment. Studying about the out-of-doors also includes an investigation into the “interrelationship of the human being and the natural resources, upon which societies depend, with the goal of stewardship in mind” (Council on Outdoor learning, p. 31, 2004). The “goal of stewardship” indicates that education in the out-of-doors is meant to go beyond both recreation and study.

The goal of outdoor learning is sometimes referred to as environmental education, where the emphasis is on the development of caring for the natural environment (Burrus Bammel & Bammel, pp. 49-54, 2002). Historically, the goal of stewardship was not always emphasized in outdoor learning programs. Some such programs were devoted more to recreation and/or adventure and were cantered on the development of knowledge and skills for camping, rock climbing, canoeing, hiking in wilderness areas, and so forth.

Although many outdoor learning programs still emphasize such sports and/or leisure activities, there is an increasing trend in wilderness experience programs and other outdoor learning activities to also stress ecology and conservation–a major goal of outdoor learning. Crompton and Seller (2001), in a review of the empirical literature on outdoor learning, have discussed the impact of outdoor learning experiences in the affective domain. Their findings suggest that research is “generally supportive of claims that outdoor learning experiences facilitate positive affective development” (p.

28). Specific affective areas enhanced by outdoor learning experiences include self-concept (Burrus-Bammel & Bammel, pp. 49-54, 2002; Long, pp. 1-8. , 2002), internal locus of control (Long, pp. 1-8. , 2002), peer socialization (Burrus-Bammel & Bammel, pp. 49-54, 2002), racial integration (Acuff, pp. 39-44, 1999; Crompton & Seller, pp. 21-29, 2001; Staley, pp. 56-57, 2002), teacher-learner relationships (Sharp, pp. 1-6, 2000), and attitude toward school (Hammerman & Hammerman, pp. 6-13, 2004).

Although one of the goals of outdoor learning is to develop a caring attitude toward the natural environment, an important corollary seems to be the development of caring for self and others. Studies in higher education have long-term benefits (Ctti & Healy, pp. 71-80, 2001). Prior investigations have shown that academic degrees have positive returns in the labour market, mainly in occupations, income and long-term wealth (Bowen, pp. 35-39, 1996). Academic attainments have also been correlated with quality-of-life measures and even with longevity (Wolfe & Zuvekas, pp. 21, 1995).

Other studies have indicated that participation in tertiary education predicts political and civic involvement, as well as other measures of social participation (Ahier, Beck, & Moore, pp. 11-18, 2003). Outdoor learning in the Classroom is an approach to teaching that combines classroom learning with challenge and Adventure. This model focuses on the creation of inclusive classrooms and schools where trust, respect, fun and constructive risk-taking are the norms. With a foundation in the Adventure concepts of Challenge by Choice and the Full Value Contract, Adventure in the Classroom can help transform classrooms and schools.

The Outdoor learning in the Classroom model is a learner-cantered approach in which learners become actively involved in their own learning. Goal setting and self-assessment help learners become engaged and responsible for their own academic and behavioural growth. Adventure in the Classroom helps teachers and schools: • Create safe learning environments in which learners feel comfortable taking both academic and emotional risks • Use the concepts of Full Value Contract and Challenge By Choice as frameworks for creating a safe learning environment

• Use the Experiential Learning Cycle as the foundation for developing Adventure-based lesson plans and units • Enhance what teachers are already doing in their classrooms • Create and use Adventure activities that enhance academic learning • Reinforce information about learning styles and multiple intelligences (Project Adventure) Attitude towards Outdoor learning A research was conducted by Barbara at Shotmoor during the winter season studied the stereotyping of girls and their educative excellence.

The girls and boys referred to in this paper were mostly between the ages of 13 and 15 years and varied in their opinions of the curriculum which was offered to them. Indeed, many had been unaware of what to expect before their arrival. A few were occasionally surprised, not merely at the content of the curriculum on offer to them but with the mixed-sexed groupings which at the time was not generally a feature of the pupils’ physical education (PE) classes at school. The Shotmoor curriculum is made up of a number of adventure type activities.

These include cycling, climbing, skiing, archery, orienteering and a ropes confidence course; during the summer there are, in addition, water sports. The first four of these activities take place within a large covered space which houses the indoor ski slope and climbing walls. The pupils are therefore protected from harsh weather conditions. Rarely are these activities part of ongoing physical education curricula in British schools. Conventional PE programs are generally dominated by traditional games; soccer, rugby, hockey, netball etc.

Still, in many mixed schools, PE is the only subject in which girls and boys may be formally separated for their lessons and higher status is almost always given to so called `boys’ sports’ than to their equivalent `girls’ sports’. Even more damaging to girls’ identity and boys’ perception of them is the vilification of women through the rugby and other male sporting subcultures (cf. Hargreaves, pp. 109-122, 2003) which may be perpetuated through school PE lessons. Frequently, one has heard male teachers and coaches motivating all-male classes by yelling such denigrating forms of motivation, “you’re playing like a bunch of girls!

” (cf. Sherlock, pp. 443-451, 2004). This formal separation of girls from boys for much of their physical education in school reinforces in particular these harmful beliefs and attitudes concerning the status and gender appropriateness of types of physical activity (Byrne, pp. 44-49, 1978). Historically girls’ PE in educational and professional organizations, although enabling mainly middle class girls to experience physical activity, in many ways continued to perpetuate conventional attitudes towards women’s roles, behaviours and “abilities” (Scraton, pp. 106–131, 2003).

The teaching of boys’ PE also contributes toward stereotypical views and attitudes concerning `masculinity’ and the `macho’ image (cf. Messner & Sabo, pp. 33-40, 2002). Certainly, the traditional segregation in educational and professional organizations, of boys from girls for their PE lessons does little to create greater understanding between them. Sport and traditional PE has an exclusively male image (Theberge, pp. 193-202, 2002; Deem, Pp. 1-9, 2003). Boys in the case study tended to view the curriculum at Shotmoor as appropriately “masculine”, although they generally did not think it to be exclusively so.

This contrasted with these boys’ perception of their school PE curriculum in which activities such as soccer, rugby and cricket were considered not to be proper sporting activities for girls. As Dave, a 13-year-old working class boy who played for the city youth soccer team, said: Dave: It’s unusual to see girls playing football … You wouldn’t see a girl in league football… `because it’s too physical… That’s the only thing I reckon that separates us from the girls and that’s standards. Interviewer: What do you mean standards? Skill or what?

Dave: Skill and–you know–fitness and strength. You don’t see girls lifting up weights do you? As depicted in the comments above, Dave has stereotypical views about girls and conventional physical activities. However, many of the girls, as they gained their confidence, were frequently obviously more able climbers and skiers than many of the boys and this was acknowledged by both the girls and boys. Nevertheless, early in the course, girls could, on occasions, be heard to say, “I can’t do that”, statements which rarely features in the boys’ talk. This supports Stanworth’s (pp.

537, 2000) proposition that girls tend to have lower expectations of themselves than boys and generally underrate their own abilities. Other evidence suggests that girls are less likely than boys to perceive themselves coping in potentially dangerous situations (Davies, pp. 39-43, 2001). For a variety of reasons, not least the informal expectations concerning female behaviour, girls are reluctant to engage in risk-taking activities. However, the majority of girls interviewed expressed opinions which clearly showed that they thought that Teachers held similar expectations for them as for boys.

Moreover, it was evident, both from girls’ accounts and their actions in lessons, that after a reluctant start, most were interested in and had been fully involved with every aspect of the curriculum. Benefits of Outdoor learning Outdoor learning is an emerging learning technology which is gaining popularity rapidly. Non-traditional physical education programming allows the instructor a degree of autonomy within the structure of the existing program. Teaching outdoor learning and other non-traditional activities can produce renewed interest for the instructor.

It can be viewed as professional renewal, a hobby, and a way to play at work. One of the many advantages of offering Outdoor learning and other non-traditional courses is that instructors can incorporate (add) these activities without revamping the entire program. This can be accomplished by developing them within existing lifetime sports classes or upper division physical education classes. By gradually introducing non-traditional or adventure units to existing class offerings, the instructor does not have to make major curriculum changes.

Rather, it allows the instructor to teach different activities without radical program change. Another factor which makes this concept attractive is the seasonal offerings. Just as athletic sports have seasons, so can non-traditional classes. An effort should be made to match the activities to the most appropriate time of year. For example, springtime would be an excellent time to take the class fishing with a bait-casting unit. A good time to initiate a hunter education unit would be in the fall, prior to hunting season.

Teaching the same material year after year may cause some teachers to lose interest and become stale. The non-traditional/outdoor learning concept allows for continual variety and personal growth. “Variety is the spice of life” and Outdoor learning provides an “adventure in teaching”. A word of caution with respect to activity selection is needed here. Instructors should not force an activity because of personal interests. The consequences will probably be poor reception by learners and disappointment for the instructor.

The use of learner interest surveys can assure a more positive response by learners and better meet their current interests. A most important point is not to teach learners just enough about activities that it becomes dangerous. Safety is paramount with learners. When selecting and planning a unit, plan thoroughly and professionally. Do not provide learners with only an overview of the activity itself. Rather, emphasize safety and teach through progression. There is a definite demarcation between whetting a learner’s interest to continue in an activity and encouraging immediate careless participation.

Outdoor learning and improved Instructor effectiveness James Raffan identifies a paucity of information in teacher education literature about training for experiential educators. He also identifies a “stubborn reluctance to assess and dissect the process” on the part of the “doers” who are generally attracted to the experiential/outdoor learning field (Raffan, pp. 117-119, 1995). Faculty in degree-granting programs have an ideal learning laboratory in which to help learners move cyclically from theory to practice and back again.

In an academic setting, we have the luxury of placing the act of teaching intentionally at the centre of the experiential learning cycle, preceded by focus, followed by reflection, and surrounded by contextual feedback and support (Joplin, pp. 15-22, 1995; Raffan, pp. 117-119, 1995. ) For instance, in the case of academic programs that include a practical teaching component, a learner may have the opportunity to design a curriculum on Monday, implement it in a local elementary school on Tuesday, and discuss what worked and what didn’t when the class meets again on Wednesday.

By its nature, teaching is an isolating profession. Educators are distanced from our colleagues by separate classrooms or separate wilderness patrols, and too rarely have the opportunity to dialogue about education, or to observe and learn from each other’s teaching (Palmer, pp. 100-130, 1998. ) While many adventure educators have learned a great deal about how to teach by assistant instructing or co-instructing, the reality is that in a work environment the immediate needs of our learners necessarily and appropriately come first.

Outside of an academic setting, we often find ourselves with limited time and energy to consciously and critically engage in a reflective cycle of theory and practice. Creating opportunities for dialogue, observation, and feedback can, and should be, the explicit charge of degree-granting programs in outdoor learning teaching. Denscombe (pp. 63-70, 2000) suggests that: Ethnographic research on teachers (and pupils), like ethnographies in general, aims to describe and explain the culture of a social group and examine the circumstances in which this culture arises.

Rather than focus on the outcome of the teaching process–its end-product measured in terms of its efficiency at instilling knowledge or its contribution to the persistence of capitalism–ethnographers are primarily interested in the customs and behaviour of the group and, in particular, the members’ understanding of the world in which they operate. Furthermore, as Griffin notes, qualitative sociological cultural analysis through ethnographic method may facilitate ways of understanding individual experience within a group context in that:

. . . (it) tries to maintain that tension between individual as active social agent, the product of a given `life history’, capable of making positive decisions and choices, and the individual as influenced by specific social structures and ideologies. (Griffin, p. 106, 2002) Ethnography is therefore a particularly apt and sensitive research approach to utilize when attempting to understand and highlight the ways in which particular gender identities and sex inequalities are constituted or challenged in specific contexts.

Any researcher is an integral part of the phenomena which she/he explores and cannot easily or morally be erased from the research process (cf. Hammersley, pp. 77-80, 2000; Hammersley & Atkinson, 2000; Harding, 2004). Academic programs in outdoor learning provide learners with a theoretical framework for concepts that many of us, without academic training in this field, have learned through luck, intuition, or independent study; or have not learned at all. This framework is important for two reasons. First, it equips learners of outdoor learning with the skills they need to be more effective and confident practitioners.

For example, literacy in various models of group development helps outdoor learning learners understand, anticipate, and program for a variety of group dynamics. Those who have trained in an academic program will be more likely to look beyond the tried and true notions of “Forming, Norming, Storming … ” (Tuckman & Jensen, pp. 419-427, 2000), and to start exploring either conflicting or complementary paradigms that might be more appropriate, for instance, in working with all female groups (Schiller, pp.

3-8, 1997). This inquiry will, in turn, deepen outdoor learning teaching’s collective understanding of the processes of group development. Secondly, learners who have studied history and theory will have the framework to be more effective ambassadors and spokespeople both within and outside of outdoor learning teaching. For example, courses in experiential education theory and methods provide learners with the context and language to explain the value of teaching to sceptics.

When learners of outdoor learning are able to articulate the complementary roles of experience, reflection, processing, and application (Nadler & Luckner, pp. 61-68, 2004), for instance, they provide sceptics with a framework within which to understand those “silly games” we play. This, in turn, allows our learners to more effectively enlist the support of potential educational partners, such as teachers and administrators in more traditional schooling systems, and with parents or potential sponsors. It gives them a more persuasive and credible voice in educational reform.

Seven Stages of Outdoor learning There are seven stages of Outdoor learning, which are as follows: 1. Acquaintance Activities- these are group activities that are designed with the goal of learning each persons name and a little about that persons life. These are incorporated to make the learning experience more personalized. 2. Disinhibitive Activities- these are designed to help individuals be less self-conscious, which should make it easier for them to step beyond their comfort zones. These activities help encourage participation by establishing a fun and playful atmosphere.

3. Communication Activities- these are activities that make the participant more aware of the importance of clear communication. Participants are also made aware that communication is not only verbal, but non-verbal as well. These activities require communication as a vital piece of gaining success. 4. Problem Solving Activities- these present the group with a problem different and unique from everyday life. By giving these unique problems, the group’s interest is heightened. No solution is given to the problems presented. 5.

Trust Activities- these are presented with the goal of building an individuals trust in the group. You must discuss the importance and seriousness of trust with the group before the trust activities. 6. Low Course Elements- these are usually group oriented challenges near ground level. These elements do not require safety gear other than spotting by other group members. Full participation is emphasized at this stage. 7. High Course Elements- all aspects are encountered in this stage. Activities take place 20-40 feet off the ground and require a belayed for the participant.

In this stage, the possibility of serious injury exists. Outdoor learning in educational and professional organizations Although no particular research has focused on outdoor learning in educational and professional organizations, however, we can draw some hints about this topic in that region by analyzing the accounts of learners who represented various organizations and/or promoted outdoor learning programs in various organizations. Administrators and principals are often resistant to allowing extra class time especially for physical education classes.

This can be overcome through gradually introducing outdoor learning into the curriculum in educational and professional organizations educational institutes. As the benefits of the program are proven to administrators, more time may be allotted to the program. An excellent way to convince an administrator who refuses to allow special time considerations would be to involve that person in an activity as an assistant or skill instructor. Another way around the scheduling problem is to schedule the class over the lunch hour. This will provide an additional 30 to 40 minutes which can be used for short field trips.

Another alternative is to take advantage of the 15 minutes which occurs at the beginning and end of most class days. The physical education instructor in educational and professional organizations can schedule an extended class activity and pick up an additional 30 minutes by applying this practice. It is imperative that the instructor communicate with all administrators and faculty if this method is applied and that any schedule adjustment not be abused. An objection to non-traditional lifetime sports classes is frequently expressed as “don’t rock the boat”.

This status quo mentality confronts new or creative teachers attempting to bring innovative teaching methods into practice. Such inaction, if allowed to continue, produces mediocrity. Inadequate program development in educational and professional organizations is another possible problem. Programs must be thorough and not attempted in a half-hearted manner. The non-traditional program must be more than just a listing in the physical education curriculum. Without prior planning and the necessary background arrangements, the program will die.

Physical education teachers usually have other duties which can interfere with program planning. It is very easy for other activities to interfere with non-traditional program planning. For this style of physical education to succeed it is necessary to set the program and the learners up for success! A trend which can cause additional problems for program implementation is de-emphasis of physical education programs. The current educational direction of the back-to-basics movement has hurt outdoor education and environmental education programs nationwide (Burrus-Bummel & Bummel, pp. 49-54, 2002; Charles, pp.

15, 2005). Many physical education programs have had hourly credit reductions and some states have made physical education an elective. This is all the more reason to alter the current curriculum in educational and professional organizations educational institutes to something more enticing. An additional problem which may face the teacher is the lack of a nationally standardized outdoor education curriculum (JOPHER Outdoor Education-Definition and Philosophy, pp. 31-34, 2000). Some administrators will resist any independent effort by faculty where a district, state or nationally accepted norm is not present.

Critical Analysis As more and more colleges and universities in educational and professional organizations offer outdoor leadership curricula, the benefits of adventure based education shall start to be evident to all critics. Raiola and Sugerman (pp. 241-245, 1999) identified a 141% increase in the number of colleges listed in the National Recreation Education curriculum catalogue as providing such curricula between 1997 and 2004. They also observed that there is currently little consistency across programs.

Sugerman’s review of fifteen programs in outdoor leadership found that only 47% required courses in interpersonal communication and only 40% required a specific course in teaching. Sugerman (pp. 75-81, 1999) further notes that, “there are no nationally accepted standards from the professional field of outdoor education that dictate what should be taught in a leadership development program. Neither is there any accreditation body that standardizes outdoor leadership curriculum” (p. 80). While wholesale standardization of undergraduate curricula may not be desirable, a further look into how and where certain skills are being taught is in order.

Additionally, a comparative study of leaders trained in an academic setting and those who have not received such training would allow us to more intentionally chart appropriate paths of undergraduate study. Educators will always need practitioners coming into the outdoor learning field who are good teachers and leaders. With or without degree-granting programs, we will always have such people. But more than good teachers, we need practitioners who have the historical and theoretical foundation to be able to articulate what we do, why we do it, and how teaching fills a need not met by more traditional schooling. Educators need ambassador

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