Three approaches to outdoor education : a Whiteheadian interpretation of their potential for practice
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This thesis considers outdoor education as a pedagogical approach which enables students to explore the natural world and learn its value when guided by an adult, be they teacher or community member. In order to provide a full account of this distinctive pedagogy, the thesis critically examines three approaches to outdoor education: a discipline-based approach used in a course on phenology at Capital Normal University in Beijing; a multidisciplinary approach currently utilized at the Outdoor School in Saskatoon; and a place-based approach as exemplified in the CO-SEED project (Community-Based School Environmental Education project) in the United States. The theoretical framework used throughout the thesis is the philosophy of education of Alfred North Whitehead coupled with concepts from his philosophy of organism. It is within this framework that each approach is interpreted and its strengths and weaknesses explained. Based on consideration of the three examples and on an analysis of the literature concerning outdoor education, I argue that outdoor education is not fully recognized by educators as a way for students to learn to appreciate their connection with nature. The educational value of outdoor education has yet to be acknowledged, and as a result students with little or no regular outdoor experience tend to feel alienated from nature, and are losing any sense of connectedness and rootedness to the places where they live. By way of contrast, outdoor education has the potential to restore students’ appreciation of nature. I propose that a place-based approach to outdoor education is the most inclusive and adequate of the three approaches. At the same time, this approach would benefit from a full understanding and integration of Whitehead’s key concepts of the rhythmic cycles of growth, internal relations, wisdom, value, and the art of life. Together they would strengthen place-based education, making it an effective approach to outdoor education.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeRegnier, Robert; Molnar, Tim; Kovacs, Maggie
Copyright DateAugust 2010