11. Sense of community guardianship
The beauty of Outdoor education is that it allow young people to see how they fit into the world. By exploring their local environment gives them an appreciation and awareness for their community. This results in them to acting with more conscious respect. When they see rubbish dumped at a Park entrance or the local creek chocked with plastic, their will often consider how this has come to be and what could’ve/ should’ve / would’ve been a better action. This may lead to students to engage with local organisations so they feel they are part of the solution rather than part of the problem. We want our young people to be able to be successful young citizens who will possess the adaptability to cope with a rapidly changing world of work and the responsibility to be an effective member of a community. When involved in challenging outdoor experiences that promote the development of communication, problem solving and decision making skills, this carries over into future occupations which are sought after by employers.
It has been shown over time that the most effective means of learning skills is by doing. In a 2006 study by Martin, Cashel, Wagstaff, and Breunig, they definitively stated that study and learning outdoor activities can only come with experience — experience kids get through outdoor education. The caveat here is that these are really only limited to the comfort level of the instructor with risk themselves. So whether you are navigating with a compass, building a campfire or setting up a campsite – an instructor’s confident and risk tolerance does have an impact on students.
To prove definitely that being in the outdoors changes a student in self-reliance however, you can see an improvement in self-dependence and there is evidence to support in this 1983 study, Ronald Force of Saint Francis Academy and Charles Burdsal of Wichita State University in Kansas found boys with behavior problems seemed to become more self-reliant after participating in three two-week wilderness hikes. (Girls were not found to show any demonstrable improvement.) In 1995, researcher Jim Zuberbuhler stated in his article “Outdoors the Rules Are Different,” “A willingness to challenge oneself physically and emotionally are integral components of outdoor programs, because pushing oneself this way can enhance self-reliance, confidence, self-esteem, and communication skills.”
14. Real world problem solving
Young people can easily fall into the day-to-day routine of life that appears very black and white to children. What with standardised tests, exams with multiple choice answers and ongoing assessment of a child’s abilities fosters this idea. But guess what? The real world in not like that. Nothing is really black and what and in fact, it’s mostly grey. We need to educate our students to be critical thinking and develop those skills so they can be part of the solution in society rather than overwhelmed by the plethora of problems that don’t necessarily have an easy solution.
15. Learning transcends the classroom
Not only does Experiential Education allow young people opportunities to learn outside of their regular classroom, it gives them a chance to make those great connections with other students, instructors, teachers and others that apply to the real world. This interconnectedness will hold them in good stead in their social, economic, cultural, political and environment future.
Read Part 2 and Part 3 by clicking on the links.
Now it’s your chance. What benefits have you seen from outdoor education? Leave a comment below.