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Walking with the Educators: Reflections on Delivering a Masters Level Outdoor Learning Module Dr Robert Cook Plymouth University.

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Presentation on theme: "Walking with the Educators: Reflections on Delivering a Masters Level Outdoor Learning Module Dr Robert Cook Plymouth University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Walking with the Educators: Reflections on Delivering a Masters Level Outdoor Learning Module Dr Robert Cook Plymouth University

2 A major impediment to Outdoor Learning (as identified by Natural England) “teacher confidence, competence and capacity … are more significant than - the barriers the sector has traditionally focused on such as formalisation in the Curriculum, fear of litigation and cost. ” - Dillon, J. (2011) Understanding the diverse benefits of learning in natural environments as cited by Natural England http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/enjoying/linkingpeople/learning/default.aspxUnderstanding the diverse benefits of learning in natural environments

3 Conventional benefits of learning in the natural environment (as identified also in Natural England report) : Improved educational attainment development of natural science skills and environmental awareness improved health, social cohesion and attitudes to other children better school staff morale

4 What images would you have when you think of students “connecting with nature”? - Like this?

5 … or this?!

6 “Deep” and “shallow” EfS - and O/L. Some links … Both O/L and EfS have developed in response to social and environmental problems resulting from modern lifestyles Both can be seen as either: (i) attempts to resolve the consequences of those problems (in their “shallower” forms), or (ii) as attempts to resolve the causes of those problems in their “deeper” forms (lifestyles)

7 Deeper purposes of O/L? Popular experiential outdoor writing tends to emphasise deep subjective responses that defy definition or assessment: Is there an indefinable connection between walking and the imagination? Robert MacFarlane) (2012) The Old Ways. A journey on foot. Hamish Hamilton (Citing the myriad writers and philosophers that speak of their need to walk) … in a world where more and more places and things are signposted, labelled, and officially “interpreted” … walking, cycling and swimming … allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things.” Roger Deakin (2000)” Waterlog” Vintage Books We can find solitude and peace away from our busy lives. Immersing ourselves in nature, we can feel a sense of our own wilderness, a sense of where we truly belong Michelle Dibb (2011)) “Dartmoor: Into the Wilderness” The History Press. P8 … for going out, I found, was really going in. John Muir

8 But how can we teach “deeper” experience? “I try to keep our trips outdoors as unstructured as possible. We tend just to go and see what happens” David Bond (Project Wild Thing) Interview National Trust Magazine Summer 2014 p31 = not “teaching” but exposing one to the ineffable, the unknown, and the unteachable – to which some may respond if equipped. Many deep experiences are essentially solitary. (Very different from the group social development benefits that are emphasised in Outdoor Education) = “unstructured education”? What happens to Learning Outcomes and Lesson Plans?

9 If the deeper aspects of Outdoor Learning are considered appropriate only to HE levels of discourse, then they are likely to remain outside the realm of general education. (Just as, if we only focus on the more immediate problems of (shallow) environmentalism, we shall never begin to deal with the (deeper) causes of those problems) Consequently, teachers at all levels should be cultivated, perhaps even primarily in these ideas – leaving the “how to do it” as a secondary concern. Unfortunately it is the shallow stuff that is measurable, and therefore it can become our focus and purpose.


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