Experiential Education in Schools
06 Oct 2004
Most people have come to identify the term "education" and "learning" only with schools and schooling.
The school has grown from the modest institution it was in the 19th century to one that is blamed for all the ills of society and is seen as potentially capable of curing them.
The school's functions and influence have been extended — some would say over-extended — and therefore the school is exceedingly vulnerable to criticism.
It is, however, very important to note that the whole of education does not take place in the school.
- Susan de Pleiss, 2002, http://www.feralchildren.com/en/pager.php?df=plessis&pg=3
Around the world, there are a surprising number of schools which are based on experiential learning principles. For example:
In 1974, Project Adventure evolved in the USA out of the Outward Bound movement, in an effort to introduce adventure learning principles into the school setting.
Project Adventure programs revolve around three main principles (challenge
by choice, experiential learning, and full value contract), which can be
implemented in almost any setting. The approach is supported by some
research evidence and has made available some innovative, adaptable
activites, games and ropes course designs....read
Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) evolved in the early 1990's. Similar to Project Adventure in origins (i.e., trying to apply Outward Bound learning principles to the school-setting) and evolved in a somewhat similar way - with a big funding boost from the US federal government to support alternative educational methods in schools. ELOB trains teachers in how to implement a whole school curriculum in which learning is considered an "expedition". Read more on the ELOB website.
What can outdoor education achieve in schools? Can it foster personal
and community growth, can it enhance academic achievement? A review of
research literature revealed some promising trends, with wide variation in
outcomes. More systematic research is recommended to help develop and
refine outdoor education for school students.