by Stephen Barcia Bacon
Outward Bound USA
This paper examines the way in which the Outward Bound process has evolved in the United States with particular emphasis on how it has changed to ensure greater transfer of course learnings. A typology of curriculum models is developed consisting of: 1) a first generation model--focusing on experience alone--which dominated Outward Bound programming in the 1960's and early 1 970's, 2) a second generation model--emphasizing discussion, group process, and imported techniques--which is the current ruling paradigm at Outward Bound, and 3) a third generation model--stressing experiential metaphors--which may provide a direction for future curriculum evolution. The three models are contrasted, and the strengths and weaknesses of each are explored.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Outward Bound is the life-affirming peak experience which occurs so predictably and regularly on the courses. This phenomena has fascinated Outward Bound observers and participants, and elicited numerous articles by lay and professional writers.
While this positive experience has been documented so regularly that its existence is beyond question, its long term effects are still relatively unknown. Certainly most Outward Bound participants believe that the experience is life transforming. Illustrating this point, Fletcher (1970) sent questionnaires to 3000 Outward Bound students five years after they had completed their Outward Bound courses. Of the approximately 2400 questionnaires which were returned, 98.6% of the respondents indicated that the Outward Bound experience was either "successful" or "highly successful." 86% of the students reported that their self-confidence had improved, 78% felt that they had increased in general maturity, and 64% believed that they had become more aware of the needs of others. 64% thought that these changes would last for their lifetimes, 32% believed they would last for several years, and only 4% thought that their gains were limited to several months.
While these results are impressive, critical observers of Outward Bound suggest that the case for the long term positive effects of Outward Bound is still unproven. They point out that outcome studies have not always found positive results (cf Shore, 1976), that the better studies have found less impressive results than the poorer studies (Burton, 1981), and that it is unrealistic to expect a short experience to transform a set of life long patterns (James, 1980).
The increase in the number of special population courses has also highlighted the "duration of impact" issue. As Outward Bound began to work with more clinical populations --eg substance abusers, troubled youth, Vietnam Veterans, and so on-- the referring parties wanted to be sure that the course improvements would have a lasting effect.
In response to the research critiques and the special needs of clinical populations, Outward Bound program designers have paid increasing attention to the issues of transference and the generalization of course learnings to daily life. One could even argue that these concerns about transference have been the primary driving force behind Outward Bound curriculum evolution in the past decade. There has been little other impetus; as the Fletcher article demonstrates, the high levels of satisfaction reported by Outward Bound students tends to support leaving the curriculum as is.
The purpose of this paper is to examine how the Outward Bound curriculum has evolved in the face of these concerns about transference and to look at how the curriculum might change in the future. It will be argued that almost all of the curriculum developed to date falls into one of two broad categories: 1) the basic Outward Bound model imported from England in the 1960's or 2) a more sophisticated version emphasizing detailed debriefings and psychoeducational techniques. The heart of this paper, however, lies in an exploration of a new model of Outward Bound curriculum, the Metaphoric Model, which emphasizes trans-forming Outward Bound activities into experiential metaphors.
The "Mountains Speak for Themselves” Curriculum Model
The original Outward Bound curriculum model employed in the United States, which can be named the "Mountains Speak for Themselves" (MST) model, is based on an implicit assumption about Outward Bound's global efficacy, ie it believes that Outward Bound is an all purpose change strategy which has such powerful impact that exposure to the Outward Bound experience can be useful for almost anyone. A curriculum based on this model includes only the most basic Outward Bound elements; essentially it consists of the minimal components necessary to generate the Outward Bound experience, the most frugal and sparing approach which results in an affective "high." The model particularly deemphasizes discussion and feedback. Similarly, it believes that reflection on the activities and insight into one's behaviors and feelings are primarily the responsibility of the students. The instructors provide space and time to conduct such activities, but they do not see themselves as active facilitators of these processes.
Instructors adhering to this model are experts at mastering wilderness situations; they also have the ability to introduce the kinds of incremental challenges which lead to a sense of mastery and a peak experience. However, MST instructors generally avoid functioning as counselors, discussion leaders, or group process experts.
Given this resistance to verbal expression, it is not surprising that there are no articles in the Outward Bound literature written by its adherents. However, Thomas James (1980) did write about the approach; in fact, he was one of the first writers to popularize the term the "Mountains Speak for Themselves" in print. James describes this model as follows.
To begin with, it seems to me that people who are saying anything equivalent to "Let the mountains speak for them-selves" are also saying something more, which is that instructors can rely on the overall structure of the Outward Bound course to give their students a good experience. They can rely on a training sequence, a way of grouping students and committing them to task performance, activities like solo and the rappel, etc... So the point is not exactly that the mountains do the teaching. It is that the training sequence we arc using is a remarkably effective way to get people to learn in the mountains... The experience happens naturally if instructors are skilled enough to take their students safely through the adventurous activities that make up Outward Bound, and when they do that, the mountains are extraordinary teachers indeed (pp. 2-3; underlining in original).
As mentioned above, MST adherents believe firmly in the general efficacy of Outward Bound. They also suggest that the Outward Bound experience is so positive, profound, and powerful that it will automatically generalize to the student's daily life; instructors do not need to be excessively concerned about transference.
Lest this sound somewhat unrealistic and naive, one is cautioned not to expect excessive results from the Outward Bound program. Interestingly, it is also noted that MST instructors simply do not have enough special expertise to work with the Outward Bound process in more than a basic manner. James (1981)) continues his discussion.
...it may be pretentious to expect that Outward Bound can do more than give its students what course director Ron Gager has called a "short-term turn-on." The standard course is only twenty-three days long. Instructors have no formal training in counseling, therapy, communications, human relations, etc. In fact, what instructors are trained to do is let the mountains speak for themselves by guiding a patrol into the wilderness, building up its skills for outdoor living, and then confronting it with a characteristic set of problem-solving tasks. Students coming to Outward Bound are looking for this very thing...What I am driving at is that the mountaineers are making an important point by demanding a more limited set of expectations for an Outward Bound course. Perhaps that point is that we should do what we do best, which is to deliver students into an extraordinary experience of action and adventure, leaving them to make of it what they will. (pp. 8-9).
As James points out, the MST prospective recognises the limits of Outward Bound : Outward Bound should “do what it does best” and leave the rest to others. Following this principle, MST adherents believe that Outward Bound courses for special populations should essentially be a basic Outward Bound course with a homogenous population. For example, a standard course where 100% of the students are alcoholics can be called an Outward Bound sub-stance abuse course. The special population on these standard courses is simply encouraged --as mentioned above-- to "make of it what they will," to get as much as they individually or collectively can from the courses without any sophisticated help from a specially designed curriculum or a specially trained staff member.
Historically the MST approach has been successful for both standard and special population courses. These courses achieve the usual Outward Bound outcomes. The students tend to have peak experiences at the end of the course and they report an increase in their self-confidence and an enhanced sense of the interdependence of humanity.
In spite of these positive outcomes, the MST model has received substantial criticism. Not surprisingly, the criticism focuses on the transferability of the Outward Bound experience. James (1980) describes this critique as follows.
...(E)ducators are apt to follow John Dewey's notion that the challenge of any form of education is to select present experiences that will live fruitfully and creatively in future experiences. Few would disagree with this. Dewey, who was probably the greatest educational thinker ever produced in this country, wrote of learning as an experiential continuum, a continuity of growth experiences. But here is where the disagreement begins, because he characterized learning not as the experience itself, but as thinking about the experience. So a form of education like Outward Bound that provides intense experiences also needs to provide tools for thinking about those experiences, for tying what has happened on a course into the experiential continuum of those who have passed through it. Another equally abstract way of saying this comes from social scientists who have studied learning behavior and concluded that the experience of the learner must be generalized into the learner's repertoire of skills and knowledge. Students need help to draw inferences, to see the pattern that connects their continuous experience (pp. 6-7).
James' critique of the MST model's lack of verbal facilitation is aimed at the standard course and normal students. His critique can be extended and made more specific when one focuses on the MST approach to special population courses. For example, one can argue that MST courses are not based on a knowledge of the dynamics or special needs of a certain population, e.g., alcoholics. Clearly, Outward Bound courses for alcoholics would be more powerful if the staff knew something about the particular problems of substance abusers and were capable of integrating that knowledge into their courses.
In addition, the somewhat amorphous goals of Outward Bound --increased self-confidence and compassion-- may not always lead to the precise behavior changes needed by certain special populations. For example, while it is logical to assume that enhancing the self-concept of a troubled adolescent should lead to less fighting with his parents, it is difficult to promise that an Outward Bound course will result in that specific behavioral change. In other words, the global goal of character development may be achieved, but that accomplishment may not lead to measurable and significant changes in the student's life.
The third criticism of the MST model is similar to the second; it argues that some special populations --such as alcoholics-- have specific problem behaviors, ie drinking, which must be altered if the student is to have any long term benefit from the course. This argument suggests that the courses need to be explicitly designed to impact those specific problem behaviors. In summary, the three criticisms of the MST approach to special populations are: 1) the curriculum does not reflect any special knowledge about the dynamics of a target population; 2) there is little proof that achieving global goals leads to specific behavior changes; and 3) if a change in a specific behavior is necessary for student growth, the course will be more effective if it directly concentrates on changing that specific behavior.
The "Outward Bound Plus" Curriculum Model
The three criticisms summarized above, plus James' argument about the transference problems inherent in the MST model, provided the impetus needed to develop a new approach to the Outward Bound curriculum, a "second generation" curriculum model. The most significant change between the first and second generation curriculum models is that the second generation model emphasizes the importance of the instructor as a discussion leader, counselor, and group process facilitator. In marked contrast to the MST approach, where experience was emphasized and discussions were discouraged, the second generation approach focuses on making cognitive links between the course experiences and the students' daily life. In addition, it actively attempts to promote reflection, insight and introspection.
The second generation model does not ignore the primary importance of experience in Outward Bound. It continues to use the basic Outward Bound activities and achieves the Outward Bound experience as regularly as a first generation approach. But in addition, there is an emphasis on reflecting on experience. The second generation instructor not only provides the incremental course challenges which lead to mastery experiences, he actively assists the students' attempts to integrate the meanings of those experiences into their lives.
In addition to this emphasis on facilitating reflection and insight, the second generation model is different from the first generation model in that the basic Outward Bound experience is often supplemented by integrating effective techniques from beyond the Outward Bound pale into the course curriculum. Adding these "imported" techniques allows one to assert that the resulting courses specifically address the needs of special populations. Examples of these imported techniques unclude using transactional analysis on courses for troubled youth, introducing Alcoholics Anonymous techniques into courses for substance abusers, and giving didactic lectures on communication skills during corporate training courses. While these techniques were originally included specifically for special population courses, in some cases their use has spread to the standard course. For example, it is not unusual for one to discover second generation instructors including relaxation or imagery techniques on a standard course.
Because of this openness to imported techniques, the second generation curriculum model can be called the "Outward Bound Plus (OBP)" approach. It is worth noting that when the emphases on debriefing, group discussion and instructor facilitation were first championed in the mid 60's, these verbal techniques were also considered "imported" techniques. However, somewhere around the mid 70's or early 80's, the verbal emphasis had become so common that many, if not most, instructors accepted it as an integral --or perhaps even an indigenous-- aspect of Outward Bound.
The OBP approach is well illustrated in the following series of quotes taken from a magazine article about Outward Bound corporate courses (McGee, 1985). Note how the opening comments by an Outward Bound staff member emphasizes transference, post-activity discussions, and introspection.
"The OB instructors don't formally teach management concepts, but at the end of every activity, we talk about what we learned. We always focus on, "What did you learn that you can use in the office?" We ask thought-provoking questions, so that the participants make the in-sights and do the connecting between the two parts (p. 19).
The article continues with a quote from a corporate trainer.
You learn the routine of rock-c1imbing. We put you at the bottom of an 85-foot rock and say, "Climb." .. Afterwards an instructor will ask the group, "What made it safe for you to climb?'' and then point out, "You had a safety rope tied around you that you --and someone else-- had tested and trusted. You had a person on top --on belay-- who was well anchored to the mountain holding the safety rope, using special techniques so if an accident happened, we weren't even depending on the strength of the person --just their presence-- to help guard you against being hurt. Who is on belay for you at work? Who checks your knots at work (pp. 19-20)?"
A participant made this final comment.
The toughest challenge... was expressing the things that we had experienced after going through the physical activi-ties, such as rappelling. It was pretty enriching to think about "How did it change me? What did it do for me?" The instructors tied it to, "How do you relate to the people you manage or work with...do you communicate with them (p. 20)?"
As one would expect, the OBP approach was even more successful than the MST model. Not only were the typical Outward Bound outcomes achieved, but also, many of the criticisms of the MST approach were successfully redressed.
For example, the OBP courses were clearly based on knowledge of the dynamics of a special population. Second generation instructors were expected to go beyond the more limited definition of an Outward Bound instructor; they were expected to become knowledgeable about the background and daily functioning of the specific population they were serving. As a result, alcoholics on an Outward Bound course were exposed to frequent comments about substance abuse problems and corporate managers held many discussions about how Outward Bound learnings might transfer back to the job. Just as important, OBP instructors were prepared to target specific behaviors critical to the post course success of their students. For example, alcoholics were encouraged to attend AA meetings and to create sobriety-oriented support systems, corporate managers learned about problem solving techniques which could be directly applied at the office, and troubled youth learned how to communicate more effectively with their parents.
There were additional benefits as well. It was soon apparent that the Outward Bound environment provided a fertile context for the successful practice of non Outward Bound techniques, a context which tended to multiply the power and efficacy of many psychotherapeutic methods. This was true for a variety of reasons. The level of stress on the course broke down traditional defenses. The activities were concrete and thus provided an opportunity to try out new life strategies and graphically demonstrate success or failure. The supportive, small-group atmosphere promoted trust, rapport building, and risk taking. Finally, the overall wilderness setting was conducive to a feeling of renewal and revitalization. In summary, the OBP model overcame virtually all of the criticisms of the MST approach. It was knowledge based; it related the course back to the students' real life; it was prepared to target specific behaviors and attempt to change the behaviors directly; and it potentiated the power of "imported" techniques.
In spite of these notable successes, certain criticisms of the OBP model began to emerge. One concern was that it was to "techniqey" --that it was excessively dependent on the use of imported gimmicks, psychotherapy techniques, and lectures. The critics became concerned that the uniqueness of Outward Bound might be lost if the imported techniques assumed an excessively dominant place in the curriculum. A typical question asked by some of the critics might go something like: "At what point does the extended amount of time devoted to verbal interactions and techniques significantly impair the basic Outward Bound commitment to doing and experience?"
Furthermore, the flurry of differing imported techniques was potentially confusing to the instructor --especially the novice. There was some danger of losing a sense of organizational identity as the type and style of imported techniques changed from course to course and from one instructional team to another.
Finally, there was a question about when and how the OBP model transmits course learnings to the students. Outward Bound's ability to differentiate itself from other human development paradigms is dependent on its commitment to experiential learning. And yet in the OBP model, it can be argued that as much or more learning occurs during the post-activity discussions as during the actual experience. If the post-activity discussions are really assuming such a primary position, is the OBP model a "pure" form of experiential education?
In summary, the second generation model of population specific curriculum did indeed achieve its goals of specificity. However, it may have achieved these goals by importing and emphasizing techniques which minimize the uniqueness of Outward Bound. Experience and adventure are still emphasized in an OBP model, but at times there can be a sense that the course activities are less important than the verbal discussions --the component of the OBP approach most responsible for specificity and transference. Such an emphasis throws Outward Bound open to the criticism that it is a conventional therapeutic or psychoeducational approach, albeit one which operates in a wilderness environment.
The MST and OBP models have been presented in depth because it is important to understand past and current Outward Bound practices before discussing future directions. However, the primary purpose of this paper is to look toward the future, to describe a third generation curriculum model. A third generation model must attempt to conserve the OBP gains in specificity and transferability while simultaneously reasserting the primacy of experience in Outward Bound. Furthermore, a third generation model needs to have a strong dedication to the development of an indigenous Outward Bound model. If Outward Bound wishes to be maximally effective with its students, and simultaneously achieve a credible position in the professional world as well as in the world of ideas, it must continue to emphasize, develop, and refine its techniques in the area where it is unique: the use of adventure oriented experiences to facilitate human growth.
The Metaphoric Curriculum Model
The differences between the first, second and third generation curriculum models can be graphically portrayed by examining the different ways in which each model would work with a particular Outward Bound activity the Wall1. Imagine a course for corporate managers. The group is coeducational and the participants are concerned about sexist versus egalitarian leadership styles at work.
The MST instructor would take his group to the Wall, inform them of the relevant safety rules, and then stand back and watch them work through the challenge. Following the event, there would be little or no formal discussion of the activity, however, students might choose to talk about it informally.
An OBP instructor would follow the same scenario until the activity was completed. Then he would ask the group to meet and discuss what they had learned on the Wall. He would ask open-ended, general questions, such as, "Who were the leaders and who were the followers?", "How was this the same as or different from the way you function at work?", and "Were you pleased with your performance?"
With a number of groups, this type of questioning and the resulting discussion would help the group realize that their actions during the Wall were a reflection of their typical leadership styles at work. Given that the group has conflict around gender and leadership roles, the conversation would probably focus on how those problems were illustrated by their behaviors on the Wall. The concreteness of the activity would allow for a graphic display of sexist leadership styles. In discussing and reflecting on this experience, it is likely that the group would achieve powerful insights into their typical patterns. Ideally, the men would realize that they needed to become more open to feminine leadership, and the women would realize that they needed to take more risks and assume greater initiative. Both groups would resolve to practice these styles on the rest of the course and back in the workplace.
The instructor using a third generation or Metaphoric Model (MM) approach would also begin by offering the relevant safety rules. However, he would also add a few brief sentences of introduction to the activity.
Most corporate groups who attempt the Wall tend to do it in a particular way. At the beginning, they mill around a bit with lots of people offering their suggestions. After some time, a couple of dominant males tend to start the group off. They get a few people to the top and then throw the women over like sacks of potatoes. Then the same group of dominant males decides how to do the hardest part which is getting the last few people up. Afterwards, during the discussion of the exercise, everyone agrees that the leadership was more-or-less sexist and there are various emotional reactions to that.
There are other ways to do the Wall. Other groups have found them and I hope this group does too.
As may be imagined, following this introduction, the students become strongly motivated to master the Wall using nonsexist leadership styles. The short introduction has psychologically transformed the Wall from a thirteen foot high plywood contraption which must be physically overcome to an experience which will test/examine/reveal the students' leadership styles. Should they get over the Wall using nonsexist strategies, they will have both an experiential success and a concrete memory of a time where they were able to work through a difficult problem in a male/female group without discounting feminine contributions. Should they fail the task, there will be a clear and graphic depiction of the obstacles impeding egalitarian leadership in this group.
During the post-activity discussion, the instructor will not need to create an awareness that the activity was a metaphor for leadership; the metaphoric nature of the experience is already clear to the group. As a result, the students will arrive at the discussion eager to share their perceptions of the leadership styles on the Wall. They will want to discuss how those styles were the same as or different from their typical corporate styles, and they will want to examine the meaning of the event for their future behavior.
Clearly, both the OBP and MM approaches to the Wall generate powerful educational results, results which should transfer back to the students' daily lives and provide long term benefits. It is important to note that both approaches are based on perceiving the Outward Bound activity as a metaphor for relevant corporate challenges. The difference between the approaches is that the second generation students generally do not realize the metaphoric nature of the Outward Bound event until the post-activity debriefing. Conversely, third generation students perceive the metaphoric qualities of the experience as they pass through it; their post-activity discussion focuses on how they reacted to the metaphor, not on how they reacted to the literal experience of surmounting a plywood wall.
The title, "Metaphoric Model," does not refer to the idea that the third generation approach uses metaphors and the second generation approach does not; rather, it is used because learning and transference occur via experiential metaphors in a third generation approach. In contrast, as will be shown below, the OBP model uses cognitive processes --primarily reflection and insight-- to achieve transference. In summary, the basic difference between second and third generation approaches is when the literal experience becomes metaphoric. This difference in timing has critical implications for student learning.
The Metaphoric Model is a way of working with Outward Bound activities which emphasises consciously framing course events so that they become experiential metaphors for salient challenges in the students' daily lives. The four primary components of the Metaphoric Model are presented below.
1) Assessment: The first step in using the Metaphoric Model is to understand the particular students on the course in hopes of determining what challenges and/or problems typica11y characterize this group of people. This research stage usually consists of reviewing the relevant professional literature, consulting with appropriate experts, studying Outward Bound's experiences in working with this group, and, above all, interviewing and assessing the actual students on the course.
One of the primary goals of this research is to generate a list of challenges, problematic situations and developmental passages which characterize the population under study. For example, a list of "high risk of relapse situations" might be a useful tool if one were applying Outward Bound to alcoholics or addicts. A similar list for standard course adolescents might be comprised of common developmental challenges such as identity crises, learning to handle peer pressure, and the ability to adapt to a changing relationship with parents. Other lists could be made for the key experiences which typically concern corporate managers, or midlife adults, or Vietnam Veterans, or adolescent substance abusers.
The Metaphoric Model is active and directive. As a result, its ethical and effective employment requires a complete and accurate assessment. One can easily imagine what might have occurred in the example above if sexism had not been an issue for the · corporate participants. In that case, the introduction would have been an irrelevant distraction from more salient issues. Even worse, the introduction might have interfered with their ability to gain anything from the exercise. The participants could have become angry at the instructor's imposition of the sexism issue or so concerned about conforming that they might lose touch with their own needs.
2) Structured Introductions: Once the assessment is complete, the MM instructor frames the course events so that the Outward Bound experiences become psychologically identical to real life challenges. This creation of a psychologically identical context often rests on the use of structured verbal introductions which, as in the example above, are delivered immediately prior to the actual event.
The Metaphoric Model however, recognizes that verbal introductions are not the only way to make an Outward Bound event into an experiential metaphor. Every student approaches every Outward Bound event in the context of all of their previous experiences and knowledge. For example, a student will perceive the first event on a course in the context of all that he has heard and read about Outward Bound. Later on in the course, all of the previous course experiences and debriefings become a composite introduction to the next event. Taking this a bit farther, one can argue that the student's entire life history is an introduction to the event; obviously, a student's personality and experiences will have a significant effect on how an Outward Bound activity is perceived and understood.
This implicit introduction to an Outward Bound event can be called, in deference to the tendency to adopt computer terminology, the "default" introduction. Default, as used herein, refers to the way a student will understand an activity if the instructor provides no introduction. A MM instructor is often satisfied to leave this default introduction in place, preferring it over any structured introduction. In making such a decision, however, the instructor makes a conscious choice that the default introduction is appropriate; if he believes otherwise, he will choose to alter the default using a structured introduction.
Finally, effective introductions are not limited to discourses or "mini-lectures" which define a dear cognitive relationship between the Outward Bound activity and the real life challenge. Often it is more powerful to form that relationship in a more oblique manner; typically these less overt introductions take the form of readings, poems, or myths and fairy tales.
These less intellectually-oriented, less clearly defined introductions are often more powerful because their very lack of definition gives each participant great freedom to make the activity into a metaphor which fits his own life. It is usually easier for each member of a group to apply the moral of a story to his life than it is for each member to find a relevant motif in a lecture.
From this context, one can argue that the ultimate form of this freedom lies in offering no introductions --simply leaving the default introduction in place-- as is championed by the MST and OBP models. In support of this contention in an earlier work (Bacon, 1983), I argued that even without introductions, powerful metaphoric connections occur regularly at Outward Bound.
However, many students are unable to make these connections without some assistance, some sort of introduction. This is well documented by the experience of OBP instructors who frequently struggle with their groups during post-activity discussions trying to get them to see the relevance of Outward Bound activities to their daily lives.
The primary goal of the Metaphoric Model is to help a larger percentage of the group achieve experiential metaphors. Within the context of that goal, the smaller the introduction, and the less defined the introduction, the better. Best of all is no introduction; next best is a relatively undefined introduction such as a reading, poem, or story; and least preferred is a formal discourse or mini-lecture. However, the mini-lecture which achieves an experiential metaphor is much to be preferred over a MST or OBP model where experiential learning is only attained by a few students. It is best to strive for a minimal intervention, but to do as much as necessary to achieve a good outcome.
The concept "metaphor" has been selected over "analogy" to emphasize the way in which learning at Outward Bound is holistic instead of simply cognitive. The complexity of the tasks, the special social context, the interaction of biochemical influences due to the re1ease of adrenaline and other hormones and neurotransmitters, and the uplifting effects of the wilderness environment, all combine to touch a person to his core. Moreover, as argued earlier (Bacon, 1983), the Outward Bound experiences have a mythic and archetypal character; participating in course activities often elicits age-old patterns of responding to primal themes such as leadership, cooperation, self-testing, and self-affirmation.
In sum, the Outward Bound experience is too globa1 --too all-encompassing-- to be merely an outdoor analogy for daily experiences; its complexity and unpredictability earns it the title of "metaphoric." Certainly, the less defined a structured introduction, the more the metaphoric quality of the experience is preserved. However, even with a highly structured introduction --a mini-lecture which defines a dear analogical re1ationship between the course event and a daily life challenge-- the richness and subtlety of the experience will push the student beyond a simple cognitive analogy into the realm of holistic metaphor.
3) Double Bind Technology: The Metaphoric Model transforms the literal wilderness challenges into metaphors for salient challenges in a student's daily life. This suggests that the third generation approach makes it more difficult for students to have a success on the Outward Bound event; not only must they master the physical challenge, they must succeed at the metaphoric challenge as well. In the examp1e offered above, the Wall, it is often quite difficult for groups to succeed at the physical challenge. In the context of the sexism introduction, this difficulty becomes magnified. Not only do they have to go over the Wall, full success requires them to use atypical egalitarian leadership styles.
When the Metaphoric Model is employed correctly, students must operate at their physical as well as their psychological and existential limits. The presence of this extra challenge suggests that MM students will have greater needs for support and motivation. The Metaphoric Model uses paradox to provide this extra motivation and support. In the example above, the paradoxical technique of "prediction of failure" was used to enhance the group's motivation to master the Wall in an egalitarian style.
To explain the paradoxical approach briefly is no easy task. The dictionary defines paradox as "an argument that derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises." As the definition implies, the approach rests on the instructor's ability to give the student a series of logical and compelling statements which, when followed, lead the student into a contradictory position where typical defenses, denials, or fears become difficult or impossible to maintain. The most common paradoxical technique is the "symptom prescription;" in a symptom prescription, the client or student is encouraged to become even more symptomatic --encouraged to practice the undesirable behaviors.
The difference between a paradoxical approach to change and a traditional confrontive, supportive, suggestive approach is like comparing Aikido with boxing. In boxing, the direct approach of striking out at the opponent creates strong resistance: either defense or counterattack. In Aikido, the opponent's own momentum is used against him, often in surprising ways, and a minimum of effort creates surprisingly powerful results.
Similarly, the employment of direct techniques such as support, advice, inspiration, or confrontation with students often leads to resistance. In such instances, it can be useful to employ an indirect or paradoxical approach which utilizes the student's own typical behaviors, feelings, and beliefs as levers for change. In the corporate example above, directly suggesting that they had sexist tendencies might have been met with denial or resistance. The indirect suggestion that they would find it difficult to avoid emulating the sexist strategies of other corporate groups bypassed the denial and resistance and enhanced motivation.
A full description of the paradoxical approach is not possible given the space constraints of this paper. Interested readers are referred to the bibliography (cf Weeks & L'Abate, 1982; Haley, 1973; Madanes, 1984; Lankton & Lankton, 1983; Flsch, Weakland & Segal, 1983). However, a simplified set of characteristics which define most paradoxical interventions is included below and another example of the use of paradox on an Outward Bound course appears later in this paper.
a) Direct or Indirect?: The first step consists of deciding whether to use direct techniques or an indirect (paradoxical) approach. Direct techniques refer to common sense, logical approaches such as inspiration, support, confrontation, reasoning, and argument. Such approaches are sometimes problematic because they can lead to denial, defensiveness and resistance. It is both time consuming, energy-intensive and difficult to surmount this resistance. If it is anticipated that these types of problems will occur, it is best to bypass them by using indirect techniques.
b) Encourage the Problematic Behavior: If it is likely that the problem behavior will occur despite admonitions to the contrary, the paradoxical instructor does not fight the inevitable. Instead, he generally follows some variation on a strategy which encourages the student to emit the target behavior. In the example above, the students were implicitly encouraged to emit sexist behavior by mentioning that most groups practice it on the Wall. However, the meaning, the context, the amount, the duration, or the exact form of the behavior is subtly altered so that manifesting the behavior has a new feeling or achieves different results.
c) Reframing: Both the encouragement of the behavior and its subtle alteration are justified by reframing. Sometimes, as in the example above, the reframe labels a conscious choice (sexist leadership style) as unconscious or inevitable; this is usually done in "prediction of failure" paradoxes. At other times the reframing rests on a rationale describing the positive aspects of practicing the behavior. For example, an anxious student before a rock climb could be instructed to meditate on his anxiety since "anxiety leads to caution and caution is important at Outward Bound."
d) Results: Frequent1y, the result of such an approach is a minimization or cessation of the problematic behavior. This occurs because the instructor's encouragement of the action and/or the subtle modifications of its practice have made it unappealing. In the anxiety/rock climbing example above, encouraging a student to meditate on his fears disrupts his typical strategy of trying to hold the fears at bay. Often, simply disrupting typical strategies is enough to alter radically a student's approach to the situation.
The paradoxical approach is a technique which has been developed outside of Outward Bound. The Metaphoric model recommends importing it into Outward Bound courses. Hence, it is logical to argue that in this respect the MM is as dependent on imported techniques as the OBP model.
However, paradox differs from most imported techniques in that it is not simply a technique, it is an approach to learning and psychological change which fundamentally differs from the cognitive, behavioral, and psychodynamic theories which currently dominate education and psychology. Paradox rests on a systemic view of psychological causality, rejects medical, pathological and individual-centered paradigms, and is strategic in its implementation. In short, paradox is a new way to understand how people change and grow. If fully understood, it is not one more technique to be added to a "bag of tricks;" rather, it provides a new conceptual context for human learning which has the potential to transform one's relationship to and employment of all other techniques.
In many ways the current situation of paradox is reminiscent of the introduction of post-activity debriefings into the Outward Bound curriculum back in the early 1960's. Post-activity debriefings are no longer viewed as a technique; rather, allowing people to talk over their experience is seen as simple common sense --a way to utilize one of the basic mechanisms of human learning. Only time will demonstrate whether paradox earns a comparable role as another representation of a basic human learning mechanism.
Clearly, this brief description of the paradoxical approach fails to do justice to this complex topic. For the purpose of this paper, it is simply useful to understand that the paradoxical approach is included in the Metaphoric Model as a way to enhance student motivation and success, an enhancement which is required by the greater demands placed on students by making Outward Bound activities metaphorical before the students attempt to master them.
4) The Primacy of Experience: The Metaphoric Model assumes that learning is maximized when it occurs in the midst of the experience. As will be discussed below in further detail, this type of experiential learning is superior to learning which primarily depends on reflection or other cognitive processes.
The MM rests on a basic assumption about learning and transference: an Outward Bound experience can be psychologically equivalent to a situation in one's daily life. In an earlier work (Bacon, 1983), I discussed the mechanisms of this metaphoric equivalence. The connection between Outward Bound course events and real life situations rests on the isomorphism of the experiences --the one to one correspondence between the components of the daily life experience and the Outward Bound event.
This is a critical point: in profoundly isomorphic metaphors, the student will be living two realities simultaneously. In literal reality, he will be having an Outward Bound course experience; in psychological reality, he will be having both the course experience and the correspondent real-life experience. The mechanism of the transderivational search ties the two experiences together so tightly that one cannot be separated from the other.
When two experiences are tied together this intimately, the established strategy of the real life experience will usually prevail and the metaphoric experience will be executed in the same style as the real life experience. If the student usually handles the situation well, he will have a success during the metaphoric experience, and if he usually handles it poorly, he will have a failure. However, the Outward Bound course is explicitly organized to facilitate success experiences. When failure strategies are encountered, the instructor, the patrol, and course format help generate a counter-typical resolution to the metaphoric challenge --a resolution that gives the student a success experience. In achieving this success experience, the student has installed a new strategy. He now has two ways of responding to his situation: the old way, which leads to failure and decreased self-esteem, and the new approach, which demonstrably leads to mastery. And this new strategy will now be available in any real-life situations that are isomorphic with the metaphoric experience.
The concept of simultaneously living two realities is of course an ideal. In practice, the metaphor is never perfectly isomorphic with the real life situation; even psychologically speaking, the metaphoric and real life experiences do not perfectly merge. But there is no question that in well-formed metaphors there will be profound and meaningful links with isomorphic real life experiences. People who have had a metaphoric experience in which the outcome has been successfully altered will have reorganized their typical life strategies (pp. 9-10).
Clearly this sort of equivalence of separate experiences occurs fortuitously and somewhat randomly during Outward Bound courses and at other times in people's lives. Many seemingly coincidental and spontaneous insights are due to this equivalence. In the context of understanding this isomorphic process, one can restate the aim of the MM approach: it attempts --consciously, care-fully, and ethically-- to facilitate this process of equivalency for the benefit and learning of Outward Bound students.
Successful passage through a metaphorically equivalent experience gives students a powerful positive memory which is almost as compelling as the experience of mastering the real life challenge. But what if a student has a literal failure experience on an Outward Bound course? What if he tips over in the rapids or cannot complete the rock climb?
Of course, the Metaphoric Model does not guarantee that all activities will result in literal successes. For example, sup-pose the corporate managers made it over the Wall using sexist leadership styles. The post-activity debriefing, would probably focus on the group's inability to operate in an egalitarian manner in spite of a strong motivation to avoid sexism. This type of discussion is as dependent on reflection and insight as a debriefing conducted by second generation instructors; the difference, of course, is that some time was saved by pre-establishing the metaphoric nature of the Wall before experiencing it. Furthermore, the students will be applying the tools of reflection and insight to the question of "Why couldn't we change old habits when we were trying?" instead of "Wasn't our performance on the Wall just like the leadership styles typically employed back at the corporation?"
Clearly, the Metaphoric Model continues to endorse the utility of insight and reflection. However, their importance is deemphasized in comparison with the power of learning in the midst of experience. Moreover, the MM approach often creates student experiences which allow reflection and insight to operate more easily, more powerfully, and more graphically. Finally, as will be demonstrated below, the employment of the paradoxical approach tends to minimize student attempts to rationalize or discount their Outward Bound behaviors.
In order to illustrate the four characteristics which define the Metaphoric Model, another example, this one from an Outward Bound course for alcoholics, will be offered. The following introduction attempts to make an Outward Bound ropes course experience metaphorically equivalent to a "high risk of relapse" situation. The students will be required to handle an experience related to exposure to stimuli associated with alcohol; in other words, they will receive some training in how to resist temptation. As one might expect, research suggests that exposure to such stimuli often results in a drinking relapse.
I'm sure that many of you have heard descriptions of this next activity. the ropes course. As you can see, it's a big jungle gym in the trees. But it's a jungle gym which tends to have a large impact on students; many of them talk more about this than anything else on the course. Most of them talk about how frightening it was.
From our point of view though, we don't use it to practice courage or risk taking or anything like that. What good would that be? Does it really help your sobriety to be able to walk a narrow log between two trees? Does the fact that you can do that mean you won't take a drink? No, it doesn't mean that.
But we do think the ropes course does have something to do with sobriety and I'll tell you why. At some point on this ropes course we expect that you'll feel some degree of challenge, risk, maybe even fear. And we want you to feel that, not because we want you to experience those things for their own sake, not because we think being scared is good for you, but for another reason. Because when we see that you are in the midst of a serious challenge, we're going to do a rather strange thing.
But before telling you exactly what we're going to do, I need to diverge for a moment. Research has shown that many alcoholics return to drinking because they can't resist temptation. You know, like the temptation of passing by your old favorite bar or having a friend or acquaintance invite you out for 'Just one," or whatever. So we've designed this particular ropes course activity with this temptation situation in mind.
I know you are all used to depending on staff for support for your sobriety and you have probably also gotten used to the idea that the Outward Bound instructors are on your side; but today, because we think it'll help your sobriety, we're going to reverse that. Out there in the real world, you're going to be tempted; and when that happens, you're going to be all alone. And it maybe your best friend pushing alcohol on you just when you want a drink real badly.
Now, what we're going to do here is, just when it gets real hard on the ropes course and you're really tempted to quit, we --that is, the instructors-- are going to try and talk you into quitting. That's right; instead of offering support or help, we're going to try and get you to come down or, at least, we're going to suggest that you only have it in you to do it the easy way. You might hear us say, "Hey Joe, you've done enough." Or, "It's OK to come down; this doesn't really have to do with sobriety." Or, "You've already done as much as can be expected of you given your fear of heights. Why don't you just come down now?"
What I'm saying is, you can't trust us on this one. Or maybe I'm saying that you need to trust your own ability to know what's right and do it no matter what gets in your way. We want you to know that in reality, we all hope that you'll complete the ropes course. And I can tell you that right now in a very clear manner. It would please us all, if every one of you has a total success. But we might not be acting like that in a few minutes. During the course, from time to time you'll see and hear us trying our best to tempt you or your friends. You'll see us trying to talk you off of the ropes course. Of course, most of the time we'll just be helping out, just like we usually do, but when the crunch is on, you may notice that we've shifted into another perspective.
Do all of you understand this? Do you know why we may be encouraging quitting or taking the easy way out? (Get answers and respond appropriately.)
When this introduction is offered in a caring and concerned manner, it typically results in an enhancement of the alcoholics' motivation to complete the ropes course regardless of their fear of heights, lack of strength, or what ever. They act as if they are more afraid of succumbing to the temptations offered by the instructors than of the actual ropes course events. The introduction often results in more events attempted and more student successes than a standard introduction. It also has the fringe benefit of eliminating the "talk the hesitant student over the high beam" role of the instructor. This type of support sometimes degenerates into a somewhat bizarre power struggle where the student attempts to prove he cannot do it and the instructor argues that he can. Not only are these types of inappropriate encounters eliminated, the student feels that he has accomplished the course independently using his own strengths.
When there is a succumbing to temptation --an actual withdrawal from the ropes course-- the debriefing is almost guaranteed to go well. The withdrawal is perceived by the entire student group as a meaningful event, as a sign that the quitter is vulnerable to the kind of temptation which will be encountered on the street. Attempts to discount the withdrawal by the use of excuses like fear of heights or lack of strength are disputed energetically by the group. The group tends to break through the alcoholic's denial and there are significant therapeutic gains both for the withdrawer and for the other group members.
This example has all of the characteristic marks of the Metaphoric Model. First, it is based on appropriate assessment findings; alcoholics generally do need to learn how to handle temptation. Second, it in uses a structured introduction to make the ropes course, an experience which in a literal sense has little to do with their lives, into something which is highly relevant. Third, it employs the paradoxical technique of "pre-scribing the symptom." And fourth, the primary learning of the alcoholics will occur in the midst of experience as they choose how to respond to the instructor's solicitations in the context of their own fear and doubt. Finally, if they have had a failure experience, the debriefing is set up in such a way that there is a minimal opportunity to discount the significance and importance of their Outward Bound experience. Above all else, the introduction ensures that the alcoholics will not literally be climbing around in the trees; rather, they will be experientially confronting a kind of temptation that is directly related to sobriety.
Before leaving this section on the Metaphoric Model, it is important to emphasize that it does not attempt to provide a complete explanation for all of the learning which occurs on an Outward Bound course. The amount of change and growth enjoyed by Outward Bound students is not limited by the degree to which their life experiences are isomorphic with and tightly analogous to course challenges. Learning at Outward Bound cannot be fully described by such a reductionistic model.
Recognizing this, in an earlier work (Bacon,1983), I argued at some length that a metaphoric approach needed to be supplemented by a mythic or archetypal model. Using such a model, the Outward Bound experience can be conceptualized as an opportunity for students to participate in age-old patterns of learning --an opportunity to recreate symbolically the struggles and developmental challenges of the heroes and heroines of myth and fairy tale. A later work (Bacon, Kimble & Taylor, in press), applied this same archetypal perspective to Outward Bound troubled youth programs and paid particular attention to the similarity between modern wilderness challenge experiences and traditional rites of passage. This is not a new theme in the Outward Bound literature. Lev (1968) and others (cf Shore, 19 76) have discussed this aspect of Outward Bound in some detail.
This sort of archetypal/mythic model has much intuitive appeal. Its numinous qualities fit the esthetic/spiritual feel of the wilderness and it provides a kind of explanation for the powerful and dramatic transformations often experienced by Outward Bound students. Moreover, it avoids reducing the Outward Bound process to a box defined by a set of psychological or educational themes --a reduction practitioners and students have repeatedly and vigorously resisted.
Unfortunately, in spite of the appeal of such an explanation, it has been very difficult to develop the archetypal/mythic approach to the point where it is capable of achieving specific outcomes. Its results appear to depend on vague factors such as luck, the openness of the students, and the charisma of the instructors. While programming may eventually be developed which takes advantage of the full potential of this model, at present, specific pedagogical and curriculum recommendations do not exist.
In summary, with full recognition that the Metaphoric Model does not describe the whole of the Outward Bound process, it does provide a technology which allows one to gain a bit more control over a part of that process. An Outward Bound instructor who completely depended on the Metaphoric Model would miss out on much of the potential of the course; yet one who turned his back on this approach would lose the opportunity to influence the course outcomes in a positive direction.
The Ascendancy of Experience over Insight
Outward Bound theorists have remained true to Dewey's famous dicturn that experiential learning is not simply "experience” but "reflection on experience." For example, Gager (1977) makes the following comments about the centrality of thought and insight to learning and transference at Outward Bound.
The opportunity for critical analvsis and reflection is the final ingredient in the process flow. In this context I am referring to the need to 1) link practice with theory, 2) reflect upon and examine one's experience in order for it to "take"; and 3) attempt to make a transfer from what is learned through experience to broader considerations. Experience alone does not automatically produce learning (p. 10, underlining in original).
Putnam (1985), an Outward Bound school director, comments in a similar vein.
An Outward Bound course necessarily allows time for reflection on experience...The event or task is experienced, and this leads to reflective observation, which is followed by an intellectual "sorting-out" process. The final stage of the cycle sees the experimental application of the new concepts, thus providing further experience....Central to this process is the responsibility of the participant, helped by his companions and the staff, to review and evaluate continuously what occurs during and following the course. This function may be carried out in many different ways, and may include the preparation of a formal assessment or self-assessment in written or recorded form (p. 5).
Finally, Kalisch (1979) discusses his view of the function of the intellect in the Outward Bound learning process.
After an experience has been rendered into words it can then be subjected to disciplined thinking. This is the real work of learning ...Real learning occurs when a student actively utilizes his awareness in a way which effects his self-concept and his relationship to the existing environment. True logical conclusions are reached and stand ready for integration and implementation... The instructor's task is to facilitate as much reflective thinking as possible. Yet, this is not to imply that the program should center itself entirely around this objective. That would indicate a misunderstanding of its role in learning. Experience provides the raw material for thought; in the absence of new information gained by personal experience, reflection can become a repugnant and pointless activity (pp. 69-70).
Gager, Putnam, and Kalisch all place great emphasis on the centrality of reflection, analysis, and insight for the Outward Bound learning process. As mentioned above, the Metaphoric Model has no direct quarrel with reflection, analysis, or insight; in fact, these tools are essential when debriefing certain activities.
However, these factors do not need to be the center of the Outward Bound process. In the Metaphoric Model, the primary focus is on setting up the experience so that learning and behavioral change are accomplished in the midst of the course experience. Given that the introduction has made the course activity psychologically equivalent to salient real life challenges, it is assumed that a success at the course activity automatically transfers and generalizes. Post-activity discussions are primarily re-served for ratifying already existent learnings.
"Ratify," as used here, describes a process in which an individual offers testimony about new behaviors or insights. The group then gives him support by agreeing that he did indeed do something or learn something valuable and worthwhile. In addition, the student will often implicitly or explicitly state his intention to reorganize his life around his new self-perceptions and will look to the group for approval and consensual validation. In the ropes course example, the process of ratification would be operating if an alcoholic were to discuss how he felt tempted to come down from the trees in the midst of the activity but then mastered himself and persevered in good style. The group would reinforce his choices and implicitly suggest that it would be good for him to continue to use this new strategy in future situations.
This type of ratification is very important in terms of solidifying and stabilizing experiential learnings . Most human beings need some sort of consensual agreement to concretize new self-perceptions and new world views. For example, Watzlawick (1984) argues that reality is socially constructed; that is, he believes that an individual's perception of himself and his world is constantly supported by feed back from a network of social contacts. Watkins (1986) believes that patients attempting to change through psychotherapy need to articulate and receive support from a new self-image. Watkins thinks this is especially important following changes which occur secondary to powerful affective experiences such as catharsis or abreactions. In fact, he argues that the ratification process is so critical that clients who do not experience it may have difficulty sustaining their personality improvements.
The Metaphoric Model's emphasis on experience and its complementary de-emphasis on reflection and insight occur for two reasons. First, there is a wish to underscore Outward Bound's commitment to experiential learning. Increasing Outward Bound's ability to work with experience is to further develop Outward Bound's indigenous approach to human development. To develop reflection on experience and insight is to follow education and psychology. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with emulating these worthwhile fields; however, it distracts from Outward Bound's unique purview: the use of adventure-oriented experience. Besides, it is unlikely that Outward Bound instructors will ever be quite as effective at facilitating reflection, group process, and insight as educators and psychologists. Why concentrate on someone else's specialization? Why not concentrate on what Out-ward Bound does best?
The second reason for this de-emphasis on insight is the growing debate in the psychotherapy field over whether insight and reflection are necessary or even helpful factors in character development. Taking an anti-insight stance is, of course, somewhat heretical. Psychodynamic therapy and its school of thought have dominated character development theory for almost a century. Its influence is so strong that the twin factors prized so highly by dynamic therapists --insight and reflection-- are considered to be absolutely necessary for significant personal growth.
However, in the 1960's and 1970's, two other schools of thought emerged which began to challenge psychodynamic psychotherapy's assumptions about the fundamental importance of insight. The first of these was the cognitive/behavioral school. Alfred Bandura, a member of this school of thought and one of the most prominent psychologists in America, reviewed the research on psychotherapy and wrote the following about insight: "It is evident from the results of interpretive approaches that a therapist who leads his clients to believe that insight will alleviate their behavioral malfunctioning is unlikely to accomplish the changes he implies (Bandura, 1969, p. 103)."
A second group of theorists attacking the insight concept belonged to the strategic therapy school. Haley (1973) gives literally dozens of examples of profound personal changes occurring in people's lives without insight and went so far as to write a series of satiric essays suggesting that the psychodynamic devotion to insight could actually keep people from changing (Haley, 1986). Milton Erickson commented that "insight into the past may be somewhat educational, but insight into the past isn't going to change the past (Zeig, 1980, p. 69)." And as a final example, Weeks and L'Abate (1982), two noted psychologists, also denigrate the efficacy of insight.
In fact, it appears that some clients use insight-oriented therapy to avoid making changes. Insight may help clients better understand themselves and their relationships to others, but this fact does not mean they will change their behavior. The fact that couples change more rapidly in problem-solving therapy than in insight therapy has recently been demonstrated empirically by Slipp and Kressel (p. 82).
Given these possible limitations on the efficacy of insight and reflection and Outward Bound's traditional emphasis on experience, the Metaphoric Model chooses to deemphasize cognitions and prioritize behavioral change. But not simply any behavioral change --rather, it emphasizes generating new behavior in the context of an experience which is metaphorically equivalent to a problematic or challenging situation in the student's daily life.
Success in this context leads to a different type of insight: an experiential rather than a cognitive insight. Having a relevant success experience creates a gut level understanding of one's former behaviors. For example, how often people who have just solved a personal problem comment, "Now, in hindsight, I see so clearly what I was doing wrong --how I caused the entire situation." Such a phrase is uttered with relative ease once the person has had a success and is sure that they have mastered the difficulty. Conversely, insight without the prior experience of an actual success often generates a statement which lacks confidence, eg "I see what I'm doing wrong and I'll try to change it, but I'm not sure that I can."
The Metaphoric Model generates the comfortable and confident insights which accompany an already solved problem. Conversely, the MST and OBP models foster a different type of insight, an insight based on reflection, discussion and cognitive processes. This insight is not founded on an experiential success; rather, it is based on abstract, cognitive connections between Outward Bound experiences and real life challenges. Even after these connections have been made, the best that the student can hope for is a relatively weak, intellectual insight into his tendencies to be caught in unproductive patterns. Perhaps this new knowledge will help him, but he is not sure.
In spite of the weakness of OBP insight when compared to the Metaphoric Model's experiential strategies, it is still vastly superior to the type of insight fostered in a clinic or doctor's office. The second generation form of insight is based on an analysis of concrete and graphic behaviors, behaviors which have been emitted in stressful, challenging situations and witnessed by an entire group of people. When that same group attempts to foster insight in a person, it tends to be achieved more quickly and easi1y than the abstract struggle with second hand events practiced in a clinic.
Interestingly, the Metaphoric Model's experientially derived form of insight is similar to something strategic therapists call pragmatic insight. Note that in the following passage, Weeks and L'Abate (1982) differentiate pragmatic insight from traditional insight by the degree to which it is grounded in experience.
The kind of insight produced from a paradoxical intervention is different from that produced by reflection or interpretation (ie by words). Most insights are generated by the therapist's verbalizations and the impact on the client is questionable. We believe most insights are nothing more than cognitions --thoughts about overt behavior. A paradox, on the other hand, can produce a pragmatic insight. This kind of insight emerges from the systematic manipulation of the client by the therapist, but it is a self-generated insight. The therapist merely provides a structure for an experience-- not the interpretation of that experience. The insight is a perceptual reorganization grounded in the client's immediate experience. Its truth is utterly convincing and inescapable. It is such a powerful insight that the client may slip into a trance state as the insight occurs. It might be noted that using the term pragmatic to describe this type of insight is consistent with William James' (1907) pragmatic theory of truth. For James, truth referred to whether an idea worked, and whether any idea worked depended upon some form of action leading to an experience (p.143, underlining and parens in original).
It is clear from this quote that the authors are not actually anti-insight; rather, they are critical of traditional forms of insight, but in favor of "pragmatic" insights which actually lead to change.
It is also interesting to note their insistence that this pragmatic insight is self-generated insight, albeit a self-generated insight which arises from a structured experience. Similarly, the Metaphoric Modelis paradoxically both highly directive and strongly committed to ensuring students' control over their own learning. While there is a strong interest in minimizing a student's tendencies to repeat unsuccessful strategies, there is an equal devotion to allowing him to decide what type of choices to make for the future. In the example of the Wall, the sexist leadership strategies were discouraged but the students were not told how to act to be egalitarian. They developed their own approach to egalitarian leadership without any influence from the instructor. This strategy reflects one of the basic assumptions of the Metaphoric Model: if an individual's blocks to success are removed, they will be capable of generating an effective solution to their problems without any outside coaching.
Curriculum Evolution as a Spiral: Reconciling Opposing Views
This paper has spent much energy contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of the three different Outward Bound curriculum models and arguing the superiority of the third generation approach. This challenge-oriented style has been consciously selected because of the characteristics of two subgroups of adventure-based educators. The first of these subgroups is made up of educators who tend to be eclectic and pragmatic in their approach to working with the Outward Bound process. They are eager to learn and willing to experiment with many techniques in hopes of achieving better out-comes with their students. This kind of openness is laudable and has led to many valuable innovations and powerful courses.
The potential drawback to such openness is that some of these instructors abandon a critical approach to evaluating their Outward Bound teaching tools. Everything is thrown into a large "bag of tricks." Very few of these "tricks" are considered better or worse, more or less effective; rather, they are all considered potentially equal if employed at the right time with the right group of students. The bag of tricks can grow to the point where it becomes difficult to sort through, to the point where there is no unifying theoretical model tying together the diverse technical applications.
Arguing the superiority of a third generation model over the first two models is an attempt to encourage good instruction by emphasizing the importance of consciously and carefully selecting a certain theoretical stance to organize one's technical applications. Even if a third generation model is rejected, it is hoped that the challenging tone of this paper will help motivate instructors to choose and use another model in a consistent manner.
In marked contrast to this first group of instructors, who are characterized by their excessive openness, there is another group who might be described as excessively conservative. These instructors hesitate to experiment with their instructional style once they have discovered an approach which reliably generates a peak experience at the end of the course. The challenging style of this paper is intended to attack this level of complacency directly in hopes of encouraging further risk-taking and learning.
Regardless of how useful this challenge-oriented, superior/inferior stance might be for some instructors, it is somewhat contradicted by reality. An in-depth examination of the three different models suggests that the lines between them are not all that clear. For example, the discussion of the effectiveness of the insight available through each model is oversimplified. The power of MM insight rests on the equivalency of the course and daily life experiences. Yet even the most potent MM introduction only makes a course event similar to the real life situation; even psychologically speaking, the two experiences are never totally identical. Given that fact, a metaphoric course success is not completely equivalent to mastery of the real life challenge.
Furthermore, in a second generation approach, after a student gains intellectual insight, he may be able to test that insight on the next Outward Bound activity. Essentially, the first event and its debriefing serve as an introduction to the second event. If the student achieves an experiential success during this second event, one can argue that the OBP model also provides insight which is grounded in experience.
Earlier in this paper it was argued that gifted and/or fortunate students achieve spontaneous metaphoric connections without any help from the instructor. In this sense, experiential metaphors occur in every model and are not limited to the Metaphoric Model. Furthermore, it has also been noted that Outward Bound can be most powerful when it is most metaphoric --as opposed to analogous-- and that this occurs most easily when introductions are kept to a minimum or are indirect and oblique. Obviously the MST and OBP models excel at this sort of minimization of introductions.
In summary, it appears that the three models do not form a discrete typology, rather, it is much more likely that they are different, and perhaps progressively more sophisticated, forms of the same process. One can speak of three discrete forms for heuristic purposes, but, in reality, there is only one model: the Outward Bound model. In this sense, evolution may be an incorrect term; perhaps "unfolding" or "deepening" describes the transitions between models more accurately. Tom James (personal communication, November 4, 1987) summarized the relationships between the models as follows.
Rather than a typology, rather than three discrete stages of development, there appears in your view of evo1ution to be a sort of spiral; the older stages are not so much left behind as deepened and transformed into a better engagement with personality change. If you succeed in persuading the practitioners at Outward Bound that stage three is the way to go, then you will have brought Outward Bound to the threshold of what Clifford Geertz calls "deep play," an encompassing moment of profound understanding through collective action. The depth of that play is transforming not only because it adds to older stages of the process, but because it more fully expresses them, mining their potential to a greater degree.
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Bacon, S., Kimble, R., Taylor, G. (in press). The wilderness challenge model. In Lyman, Prentice-Dunn & Gabel (Eds.), Residential and inpatient treatment of children and adolescents. New York: Plenurn Publishing.
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Burton, Leslie. (1981). A critical analvsis and review of the research on Outward Bound and related programs. (Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, 1981).
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Kalisch, Ken. (1979). The role of the instructor in the Outward Bound educational process. Three Lakes, Wisconsin: Ken Kalisch Press.
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Putnam, Roger. (1985). A rationale for Outward Bound. Unpublished manuscript, Eskdale Outward Bound School, England.
Shore, Arnold. (1976). Outward Bound: A reference vo1ume. Greenwich, Connecticut: Outward Bound Press.
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1. The Wall is a thirteen or fourteen foot high smooth wall without any handholds or footholds. The purpose of the exercise is to get the entire group over the top. Once a person is over, he can no longer assist the students remaining on the initial side of the Wall except by pulling from the top. Hence, the crux of the exercise is to figure out how to get the last few students over the Wall.