Risk in theory
Risk in practice
Chinese for 'opportunity through danger'
As long as we wish for safety,
we will have difficulty pursuing what matters.
- Peter Block
Risk has a double-edged nature.
Risk can cut, risk can heal.
- James Neill (after Hahn on Outward Bound)
More risk quotes...
About risk, safety & challenge in outdoor education
Much of the 'rawness' of natural outdoor adventure is removed by modern
outdoor education programs.
Professional outdoor education organizers weigh up potential safety risks and generally
adhere to standard professional operating procedures which seek to strike
a socially acceptable balance between the risk of loss (R-) and the risk
of gain (R+) for the activities provided to participants.
During the 1960's-1990's there has been significant evolution in safety
and risk management practices in outdoor education. Much of this has
been needed and welcome and has helped not only to improve safety, but
also the overall quality of programs.
However, the pendulum of safety concern in outdoor education has swung too
far. Many within outdoor education feel that particularly since the
1990's some feel there has been a curtailment in the human creativity and
positive risk-taking aspects of outdoor education. This has been
driven at least partly by societal and legal issues about risk, liability,
Today it takes bold professional passion, independent thinking and
creative action to organize authentic outdoor adventure experiences.
MPs urge a £30m boost for outdoor school trips in England
(BBC News, 10 February, 2005)
A UK education committee is calling for a "champion"
to promote outdoor activities and has asked a teachers'
union to revoke its advice to not run trips because of fear of
litigation if a child is injured. "We
have to get away from the culture of fear that has grown around school
trips and introduce some element of common sense". The committee praised
efforts in some other countries to provide outdoor learning. For
example, in Denmark, schools based in forests "used the natural
environment to stimulate pupils" and "experience a carefully monitored
element of risk".
Teachers stand firm on school trip guidance
(The Independent, February, 2005)
Teens want groovy, convenient exposure to risk experiences
(Alex Hill, 3 April, 2005, Vail Daily)
Today's teenagers grew up in the 1990's - and they like to be
exposed to risk-taking that is safe and convenient. This was
the message of Michael Wood, an expert in teenage psychology, in
his presentation to the Snow Industry Summit, CO, USA.
attempts to calm fears over school trips in Scotland
(Kevin Schofield, 31 December, 2004, The Scotsman)
Fear of litigation risks seems to keeping a new generation
of risk-averse teachers from organising trips to outdoor education centers
in Scotland. Following the Lyme Bay tragedy in which 4 teenagers
drowned on school sea-kayaking trip, Britain has cracked down on outdoor
safety standards. Despite this, fears of litigation remain present
in teacher's minds.
- Site management: The missing link
(Paul Nicolazzo, 2004, outdoored.com)
Describes a risk management model which can be
readily taught to field staff.
motivates a thrillseeker?
(Meredith Goad, 24 May, 2004, Portland Press Herald)
Psychologically, people lie on a continuum with regards
to their desire to experience thrill through risk-taking. Big T's tend
to pursue risks in their careers, physical adventure, and are more susceptible
to drug use, gambling and other risky behaviors. Little T's assess risks
differently and are more cautious. Interestingly, this
"sensation-seeking" personal attribute is about two-thirds genetically based.
There are also developmental patterns, with risk-taking peaking during
adolescence and young adulthood, and lowering after people have children.
- More risk news...
Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
More Risk, Safety, & Challenge in Outdoor
taking as an educational tool [.doc]
(Marda G. Bureau, 1983, The Bradford Papers Online)
Campaign for Adventure: Risk &
enterprise in society
Managing the risks, enjoying the experience:
Where schools stand legally in regard to outdoor activities
(Education Gazette, 83(3), 23 February, 2004, New Zealand)
Special reports on the school trip crisis in the UK: Outdoor safety
concerns and teacher jailings curtail educational opportunities
(Guardian Unlimited, 2004)
Union tells teachers to end all school trips
(The Telegraph, UK, 19 Feb,2004)
Participants sought for risk management survey
(The Outdoor Network, 9 February, 2004)
Building a risk management lexicon
(Karen Paisley, Jim Sibthorp & Andy Szolosi, The Outdoor Network, 2003,
Definitions of "Risk" on the web
The wilderness incident investigative interview: Mitigating memory
challenges utilizing the Enhanced Cognitive Interview (ECI) technique
(Kris Wright & Kurt Merrill, 2002)
- Risk education: Guidance,
support materials, lesson plans for teachers & lecturers
(Health & Safety Executive, National Curriculum for England, 2000)
New rules taking risk out of the outdoors
(Dec 2, 2003, Hawkes Bay Today)
Keeping kids in cotton wool
(Dec 3, 2003, Hawkes Bay Today, Editorial)
- Outdoor & risk educational practices
(Marni Goldberg, University of Minnesota) [pdf; .1MB]
fear sees colleges cut outdoor activities
(Catherine Hubbard & NZPA, Marlborough Express, New Zealand, 27
- Outdoor Safety.org
(Rick Curtis, Princeton University, USA)
UK outdoor industry tackles insurance issues
(The Outdoor Network, November 6, 2003)
Exploring the myths: Analysis of incidents and accidents in professional
outdoor education in New Zealand, 1996 – 2000
(Grant Davidson, Safe as Outside SPARC Risk 2002, New
Zealand Conference on Outdoors Risk Management; .3MB [.doc])
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) report analyzes student incident
(The Outdoor Network, 8 October, 2003)
Fear of risk is as much a risk as risk itself
(Tim Besley, 2002,The Age)
- Where has the
adventure gone? Bringing risk back into the outdoors
(Neill, 2003, Keynote presentation to the Annual Outdoor Recreation Industry
Council (ORIC) Conference, Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia, Oct 11-12)
- Handicap theory: An
evolutionary perspective on why we take risks
(Conniff, 2001, Discover, 22(12)
Risk management & program administration workshop descriptions
(31st Annual Association for Experiential Education Conference, 2003)
- The psychology
of big wave riding
(Bennett & Kremer, 2002, Australian Conference of Science & Medicine in
Risk taking as an educational tool
(Bureau, 1983, Bradford Papers, .2 MB; .doc)
School trips under threat as teacher is jailed for boy's death
(The Guardian, UK, Sept 24, 2003)
- A new model for risk
Best practices in outdoor education: What? Why? How?
- Is Outward Bound
becoming too safe?
(James Neill, 2002, Outward Bound International Newsletter)