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Outdoor Education Philosophy

Personal Philosophies of 
Outdoor Education

James Neill
Last updated:
28 Jul 2004

Personal Philosophies of Outdoor Education

Whilst studying the philosophical origins and issues in outdoor education today is a useful foundation, I encourage people to formulate their own philosophical views.  We must be aware that the philosophical writing in outdoor education is sparse and somewhat impoverished, so it cannot be all that well relied upon.  Thus, there is a need for grounded philosophies to be generated by those directly involved with outdoor education.  What's more, we must also realise that philosophical shifts have occurred in the conduct of outdoor education and adventure programming in recent decades.

The philosophical watertightness and eloquence of novice-generated philosophies may lack somewhat in academic integrity, but I have found the raw passion of many student's philosophies to be significant in challenging and shaping my own philosophy, and for that I am very grateful.  And these personal philosophies tend to guide practice far more strongly than ivory tower philosophies.

You may also be interested to visit other example personal philosophies of education, some famous, some not-so famous.

Here are some summary statements from student philosophies of outdoor education at the University of New Hampshire:

  • From reflection to perfection: Through a facilitated or personal reflection period, students of an outdoor program learn a variety of skills and lessons that change their outlook and make them better as a result in future experiences. (MK, 2001)

  • Life as a teacher: My philosophy focuses on moving beyond the materialism and superficialities of today's world to focus on personal growth, awareness, self-reliance and teamwork through experiential education. (SMP, 2001)

  • Thinking for yourself: Inspire people to think for themselves and become their own person and pursue their dreams. (Nick Connolly, 2001)

  • Flowa Powa: To find a connection and knowledge of yourself, others, and to the environment through a holistic, experiential learning approached combined with traditional education. (ASK, 2001)

Links to Personal Philosophies of Outdoor Education

Whitcombe, M. (1999). Mark Whitcombe's outdoor education philosophy. http://www3.sympatico.ca/mwhitcombe/mwphil.html