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James Neill University of New Hampshire, USA, 2002 CAN THE MOUNTAINS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES?

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Presentation on theme: "James Neill University of New Hampshire, USA, 2002 CAN THE MOUNTAINS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES?"— Presentation transcript:

1 James Neill University of New Hampshire, USA, 2002 CAN THE MOUNTAINS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES?

2 Outline l Summary of James’ paper »Mountains vs. Facilitation l Workshop & Group Presentations l Take-home Points

3 Mountains Facilitation Where is Your Preference? (ideal program for you as a leader…where do you feel most comfortable?)

4 Thomas James (1980) issue paper for COBS: “Can the Mountains Speak for Themselves?” l Distinguished between 2 basic ways of leading OE experiences: 1: Letting experience speak 2: Debrief/Processing Summary of James’ paper

5 l a ‘defining tension’ in OE leadership l a dilemma that is continually in the minds of instructors : “Should I let that experience go, allowing participants to make their own learning, or should I try to use my skills and observations to facilitate participants’ reflection and analysis of the experience?” Mountains Facilitation

6 Can the Mountains Speak for Themselves? Thomas James (1980) Û Rustie Baillie: “Let the mountains speak for themselves” Û 1960s: counselling techniques introduced to control group processes Û Ongoing debate about how to best facilitate OE groups

7 THE MOUNTAINS

8 James (1980): Mountains The mountains argument suggests that if we have: l A good course structure, e.g. Outward Bound Standard Course l Safe, professional, inspiring leadership we are likely to have an impressive OE program.

9 James (1980): Mountains Argues for the inherent power in nature, good programs, adventure activities, and human growth orientation, effective leadership. Key elements of ‘mountains speaking for themselves’: l Nature l Program l Adventure activities l Human growth orientation l Effective leadership

10 Nature ‘Nature has an inherently positive effect’. Fits with: l Nature philosophers l Mountaineers l Indigenous view l ‘Simple OE’

11 Program l Tried and true course structures provide good experiences: “The rappel works; the expedition teaches; solo asks the questions that need to be asked” »e.g., Outward Bound Standard Course l “Life of action is often composed of mental activity of the most significant kind.”

12 Adventure Activities l ‘OE activities inherently demand a high degree of consciousness and self-scrutiny’ l Real, immediate experience l Action-consequence

13 Orientation to Growth l Learning occurs naturally l Allow ‘pure’ experience l Humans move naturally towards personal growth (e.g., Maslow, Rogers, May, etc.)

14 Effective Leadership Creates a: l safe l supportive l challenging series of adventure learning opportunities

15 FACILITATION

16 James (1980): Facilitation l Verbalization/reflection in addition to action l Dewey: learning = thinking about experience l Generalisation/transfer of learning l Facilitation can be subtle acts or comments which help guide participants to valuable self- reflections l Crucial to maintain authenticity of experience

17 James (1980): Facilitation l Candice Chrislip: helping students “to isolate a particular success on the course, to identify the process they went through, and to make this success available to them as a future resource.” l Be wary of expecting too much of a program and perhaps we should stick with what we do best - leading people in extraordinary outdoor adventures

18 WORKSHOP

19 Key Questions l Do you accept Thomas James’ mountains vs. facilitation continuum? Perhaps there are better models that could better organize those concepts. l For example, most OErs are uncomfortable placing themselves at a single point on the continuum, so how could greater ‘flexibility’ be introduced?

20 l Take-home points: »understand your personal orientation »understand the range of others’ orientations »develop flexibility in instructional style (build complementary skills) »develop expertise in preferred direction »participants will have their own individual orientations! »this issue forms the basis of understanding more recent developments of facilitation techniques in OE (e.g., see Gass)

21 MORE NOTES for Presenter

22 - Mountains - letting the experience speak for itself l not for the leader to impose or prescribe private, individual learnings and experience l focuses responsibility on participant l does not endorse ‘chuck them out there and see’ policy, since instructor sophistication is indicated by careful setting up of program, program design, activity sequence, pace of program, and group management l May suit certain clients/cultures more than other cultures, e.g. males? adolescents? intellectually challenged? taciturn cultures? l May not achieve maximum possible program effects by not employing facilitation techniques; although it could be argued that totally self-derived learnings may be more powerful than facilitated learnings? l May lend itself better to achieving recreational type goals than higher-level therapeutic goals l minimalist l nb. culture comment in Priest & Gass book

23 - Facilitation - guiding reflecting about the experience l centers an emphasis on instructor-facilitation of participants’ learning and experience l seeks to harness power of self-reflection, self-analysis, expression of thoughts, sharing of insights, etc. to develop and ‘lock-in’ new understandings about self and group l instructor must observe and guiding reflective facilitation processes following experiences l may not maximise the inherent value of nature, adventure and group processes l May suit certain clients/cultures more than other cultures, e.g. females? adults? intellectual? gregarian cultures? l May enhance the outcomes through this ‘plus’ model - insights which might otherwise not have been achieved are likely to be created l May be most effectively applied to achieving educational and therapeutic goals; may be of relatively less use in achieving recreational type goals l some reflection is always going to be present even in the purest ‘mountains’ program. it is virtually impossible to rid oneself of constant analysis and reflection. (this is partly why we can say that human nature is oriented towards improving constantly improving oneself)

24 Comments: Overall l ref James re both methods effective l v. limited research comparing techniques (cite Priest study) l propose DNA metaphor to solve continuum l draw on board l Hattie, J.A. (1992): l “it does appear that the more cognitive oriented [self-concept change] programs have substantial effects, than the affectively oriented programs on self-concept” (p.226) l We need the tension maintained to continue furthering the development of effectiveness in programming at both ends of the continuum. We need the tension from both ends to balance the ‘product’ in the middle. See Sufi quote.


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