This issue provides a global perspective of outdoor education and environmental education with 5 papers and 1 book review. Contributors hail from the USA, Canada, Scotland, Greece, Auckland and Australia.
Parks, rhetoric and environmental education: challenges and opportunities for enhancing ecoliteracyn
Rebecca A. Johns, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, USA (pic) Rachelle Pontes, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, USA
Adult environment literacy in the USA remains disturbingly low, despite the urgency of environmental problems. In the face of federal attack on many of the gains made in the last half a century to protect and sustain natural resources and human health, increasing understanding of complex ecological processes and the human role in environmental change is crucial. Non-formal environmental education in the USA for adults is less regulated and less studied that environmental education for children. Preserves are the most common place in which adults encounter nature and may be exposed to new ideas about the environment. This study conducts a rhetorical analysis of education programs at local preserves in southwest Florida to determine approaches utilized in promoting environmental literacy. Using rhetorical criticism, we identify the dominant levels of environmental literacy targeted by the sample parks through an analysis of audiences and messages. We also identify opportunities and barriers to an increased role for preserves in providing education to the public that advances environmental literacy
A qualitative exploration of the barriers and bridges to accessing community-based K-12 outdoor environmental education programming
Ryan F. Reese, Oregon State University, Cascades Bend, USA
The purpose of this study was to explore factors impeding or enabling 4th grade access to a community-based outdoor environmental education (OEE) organization located in the pacific northwest United States called the Children’s Forest, an initiative of the United States Forest Service. Qualitative findings indicated that teachers and administrators face significant dilemmas when having to make OEE curricular decisions in the context of broader educational mandates. Key findings suggest that OEE program staff can utilize policy-driven mandates to facilitate OEE participation and that savvy individual teachers can potentially help schools overcome policy-related, institutional, and interpersonal barriers to OEE participation. Further research is needed to corroborate and identify additional bridges and barriers that might impact diverse K-12 educator access to community-based OEE. Nonetheless, key learnings emerged from this study echoing past research and providing additional implications for future OEE practice and research.
Flourishing in the forest: looking at Forest School through a self-determination theory lens
Alexia Barrable, University of Dundee, Scotland Alexios Arvanitis, University of Crete, Greece
Forest School offers opportunities for children and young adults to come into regular contact with nature. Although, in relevant literature, Forest School is seen as highly conducive to participants’ motivation to learn, there is no theoretical framework that examines how this motivation can be optimized in relation to Forest School pedagogy. Self-Determination Theory offers a broad perspective for motivational processes and will be used as a guide in this article to advance such a framework. Self-Determination Theory proposes that well-being, which has been identified as an aim of Forest School, is promoted through the support of three basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness. In this conceptual article, we make links between Forest School pedagogical practices and Self-Determination Theory, mainly focusing on the support of children’s basic psychological needs. Furthermore, we make suggestions for ways in which to enhance practice through explicit links with need-supportive teaching practices, as these are identified in the Self-Determination Theory literature.
The occupational socialization of two experienced and expert adventure educators
Matthew M. Maurer, The University of Alabama, USA Matthew D. Curtner-Smith, The University of Alabama, USA (pic)
Previous research of why inexperienced adventure educators’ (AEs) think and teach as they do had provided findings that suggested how AE instructor education (AEIE) might be improved. The purpose of this study was to build on this work and determine how occupational socialization shaped the perspectives and practices of two experienced and expert AEs. Six qualitative techniques were used to collect data. Analysis involved using analytic induction and constant comparison to categorize these data. Categories were then collapsed into meaningful themes. Results revealed how the AEs’ acculturation, professional socialization, and organizational socialization led them to possess sophisticated and advanced but slightly differing perspectives on adventure education, pedagogies for teaching adventure education, and AEIE. Key factors in the development of these perspectives and practices were the AEs’ early and positive experiences of adventure and the outdoors and their master’s degree programs.
Mindful adventures: a pilot study of the outward bound mindfulness program
Meghan Kirwin, Kirwin Group, Guelph, Canada (black top) Nevin Jason Harper, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada (toque) Tarli Young, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia Itai Itzvan, Naropa University, Boulder, USA (beard)
Mindfulness can be successfully combined with adventure education but the area is understudied. This longitudinal quasi-experimental study investigated whether an 8-day Outward Bound Mindfulness Program in nature would increase levels of positive affect, savouring, and mindfulness. Results indicate the experimental group experienced a statistically significant increase in mindfulness, positive affect and savouring compared to the control group post-intervention, and that the increase was maintained at 3-months post-intervention. These results illuminate the lasting impact of an intervention which combines mindfulness with adventure education, and highlight the potential which natural environments may play in educational and therapeutic processes. Study limitations and need for further research are shared.
Review of preventing fatal incidents in school and youth group camps and excursions: understanding the unthinkable by Andrew Brookes
Mike Brown, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
This is a book that should sit dog-eared on the desk or shelf of everyone who claims to be involved in outdoor education: instructor, tertiary educator, school teacher, youth group leader and trustee/board member. It is a book that needs to be read and reread and the learning digested to ensure that avoidable fatalities from the past are not repeated. Those of us involved in educating the next generation of outdoor leaders, or inducting new members in to our organisation, must ensure that our students or new employees do not become new actors playing out old scripts.
Brookes draws on extensive research, and intimate involvement with a significant outdoor education incident in New Zealand, to argue for the importance of learning from previous cases in order develop a strict aversion to any preventable death as a necessary element of fatality prevention.He builds on his earlier work to reinforce the importance of local knowledge and environmental awareness, of specific locations and more.
Outdoor Education Australia is a national network of outdoor education associations that facilitates communication about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.
OEA supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and First Nations Australians’ quest for truth telling, a voice and makarrata. We look forward to walking together with First Nations Australians to build a better future.