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Dr Mike Brown The University of Waikato

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1 Dr Mike Brown The University of Waikato

2  Adventure tourism  Psychological & sociological literature  Neo-liberal politics  Social theory and (post) modernity literature  Cultural studies  Economics

3 Adventure is a prominent feature in New Zealand’s cultural identity, leisure lifestyle and tourism industry…. Its foremost context is physical activity, providing an authenticating link to the mythologised history of discovery, distant migration and pioneering rural development. (Kane, 2011)

4 Adventure education involves the purposeful planning and implementation of educational processes that involve risk in some way (Miles & Priest, 1990) Is the element that distinguishes adventure education from other educational fields (Wurdinger, 1997) If learner’s are out of their comfort zone and are actively engaged in learning, then we are increasingly likely to describe that as good adventure education, no matter where the location and how physically risky or active the mode of learning may be (Prouty, 2007)

5  Programmes offering adventurous activities (involving risk) are an effective means to foster personal growth and team building  Learning to deal with risk is beneficial; potential benefits outweigh potential risks; benefits transfer (Wolfe and Samdahl, 2005).

6  Activity rather than educational focus  Potential of harm is overlooked. As much as we rely on anecdotal support there are also dissenting voices.  Marginalisation of adventure education in mainstream educational debate  Failure to address ecological issues as the outdoors is a “medium” or backdrop to the real action.  When it goes wrong. The “dark shadow”


8  Adventurous activities are highly orchestrated and it can remove authentic decision making.  Something ‘done’ to students. Instructors manage risk; participants take risks.  Establishment of binaries  Focus on activities – spiral mentality  Thrill ≠ learning (possibly conformity)

9  How do participants learn, what do they learn and what constraints are inherent in our teaching & learning approach?  Raises questions about outdoor education practice where participants are continually taken into ‘novel’ terrain. Learners never become comfortable and may not move beyond the ‘risky edge’.  Rethink the ‘orchestrated otherness’ & difference inherent in many programs  Opportunities for connections & engagement. Development of social capital (bridging cf. bonding).

10  Move from; what adventurous (risk) activities can I provide? - what educational activities can I provide?  Our challenge is to grasp and broaden opportunities to learn rather than restrict them.  People are more likely to respond to when they are safe, secure and in predictable environment (Berman & Davis-Berman)  Education in the outdoor offers many authentic learning opportunities.

11 Place has to do with how people develop and experience a sense of attachment to particular locations on the Earth’s surface. It also has to do with how people are affected by and effect those places. Therefore, place is suggestive of both the imaginative and physical reality of a location and its people, and how the two interact and change each other. (Wattchow & Brown, 2011, p. xxi)

12 Places teach as about how the world works and how our lives fit into spaces that we occupy. Further, places make us: As occupants of particular places with particular attributes, our identity and our possibilities are shaped. (Gruenwald 2003, p. 621).

13  More than just be local – it is responsive to that place  Responsive carries with it the impetus to act, to respond  Acknowledges that people and places always exist in mutual bonds of interdependence  Does not mean that risk (& its management) is not a factor BUT it de-centers risk as a defining characteristic.

14 How do we encourage and enable students to feel safe and comfortable in places rather to feel like a stranger with little or no attachment to places? How, in Relph’s (1976) terminology do we assist them to be an empathetic insider rather than an outsider, who is adrift and ‘placeless’?

15 The desired outcome is to “support research which will lead to significant improvement in outcomes for learners” The TLRI aims to:  Build a cumulative body of knowledge linking teaching and learning  Enhance the links between educational research and teaching practices (& researchers & teachers)  Grow research capability and capacity in the areas of teaching and learning Projects will have:  Strategic, research and practice value

16 Understand how teachers conceptualise teaching and learning in outdoor education. Explore the possibilities made available by linking outdoor education with sites of local significance and meaning for participants. Investigate & disseminate how both teachers and students respond to a place-based approach. Two schools, four teachers. Jan 2010- Dec 2011

17  What do students have to say about their experiences of a place-based approach?  Does a place-based approach to outdoor education offer a viable and practical alternative to a more traditional ‘decontextualized activity’ approach?


19  Low socio-economic  Roll of 290  74% indentify as Māori; 80% Tainui  The journey; 3 day/2 night. 90km

20  Semi-structured interviews. A conversation over morning tea.  Conducted in pairs  Transcribed verbatim  Analysed for recurrent themes

21 A physical challenge: Scope for self regulation  Tramp was a highlight.  [No] “little games and team building stuff – this was like straight in there, hard work and stuff” Being self-propelled: A sense of achievement  Three days of activity (90km). No option to opt out A journey home  Only one way to get home  To a known place (home)  Mix of rural and urban was not viewed negatively

22 Planning: The opportunity to make decisions & contribute  Clearly saw through contrived nature of camps that focused on confidence building and cooperation.  “it was not a set up programme”  “you teach yourself almost”  “we took control… we are going to be adults soon, we need to organise stuff ourselves & just take responsibility”  “we needed to step up” – emerging leadership than imposed leadership.

23 Cultural connections  Drew on stories told by family  Marae stay drew on students ‘outside school knowledge’  Waka was seen as ‘traditional’ transport.

24  Students valued this style of programme  Drew on school staff – no need for external experts  Students were often the experts; marae and waka  Relationship between staff and students was ‘unmediated’ cf. a specialist centre.  ‘Outcomes’ of increased communication, cooperation, displays of empathy were evident in the mundane rather than the dramatic.  Students appeared engaged

25  From the students’ perspective it appears so.  It didn’t “suck” (high praise)  Positives; less expensive, environmentally no less destructive, it allowed a significant level of student decision making, it drew on ‘out of school knowledge’, was located in places of significance to these students.  Need to facilitate for transfer is largely negated; the ‘gap’ between experiences is less dramatic.

26 Move from cognitive processing within the individual to situated perspectives which take into account people, place, task Greater cultural awareness. Discourse changes. From ‘instructor centered’ to more ‘learner centered’. Need to vigorously facilitate for transfer is ‘sidelined’. Teacher’s role as educator is ‘valued’. Removes “big bang” & dramatic approach Modest claims – more empathetic approach

27  Is an appealing term  Potentially diminishes authentic decision making and taking of responsibility for one’s actions  Introduces a high level of technical competence and potentially disrupts the teacher/student relationship  Expensive & potentially exclusive  A ‘narrow’ (popular) reading of adventure may be more limiting than liberating.

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