Project Green

Why Outdoor Education

As you may have realised, there is no one definition that encapsulates all that is referred to as 'Outdoor Education'. There are terms that are used loosely and interchangeably with or for Outdoor Education. Such as:

  • Adventure education
  • Adventure programming
  • Environmental education
  • Outdoor learning Outdoor recreation
  • Wilderness experience
  • Camping
  • Adventure therapy
  • Therapeutic recreation

The roots of outdoor & adventure based programming can be traced back almost a century, to pre-world war II England. Kurt Hahn, a pioneer in the field of experiential education, introduced the concept of adventure-based experiences to combat signs of demoralization that he noticed in the English youth of 1930s. Since then Hahn's concept has been incorporated into numerous educational institutes across North America, Europe and Australia like Project Adventure, USA; Salem School, Germany; Gordonstoun School, Scotland; Outward Bound, Australia. Models and methods that align closely with Hahn's concepts of experiential education were weaved in the curriculum of India's elite boarding schools as early as 1930s, when India was still under the British rule. A case in point is The Doon School that introduced short five-eight day wilderness expeditions for its boys in 1938.

Experiential Education is a philosophy and methodology where the educator and the learner engage in a transactive process, both share a common teaching-learning experience, though each may derive different values from it depending on their own reflective process, in order to increase knowledge and develop skills. Arguably the three most important voices of the philosophy of outdoor & experiential education are John Dewey, Kurt Hahn and Paulo Freire. According to each of them experiential education increases the self-efficacy of individuals.

Explorers Education Model is based on Christian Itin's Diamond model of the philosophy of experiential education and draws on the consolidated definition of experiential education by Dewey, Hahn & Freire One of the key features of this model is that the transactive and the experiential learning processes both function simultaneously and the experience itself is the core learning.

Benefits

Often parents are presented with existing pictures of children taking part and learning from activities and have inspiring tag lines thrown at them, asking them to 'change' the way their children are being educated. This frequently raises the issue about traditional classroom education and its effectives today. It is difficult to come to terms with information that humbles an education system that we ourselves are a product of. However, if for a moment 'methods of educating' can be considered a science which continuously evolves due to on-going research, then it may make it easier for parents to see Outdoor and Experiential education as additions and not replacements to the current 'methods of educating'.

Organisation like the Explorers intents to support the current school systems and provide students with opportunity to development skills, thus complimenting classroom instruction and providing for holistic development. Outdoor Education concentrates on building life skills. There is ample research to show positive contribution made by Outdoor Education to the growth of children and adults. Some of these include:

  • Increased self-concept such as independence, confidence, self-efficacy, and self understanding
  • Enhanced decision-making skills
  • General problem solving competencies
  • Better academic achievement
  • Increased ability to overcome challenges
  • Better social competence
  • Better communication skills

Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for learning (EIC) is the foundation of a substantial report 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.