1. History and Assessment of the Current Status Quo

Finding the Appropriate Equivalent Term

The term ‘Outdoor education’ which is traditional in Australia doesn’t seem to have an exact equivalent in the German language and culture. Although Kurt Hahn, who is commonly regarded as the key outdoor education pioneer, was an educator from Germany outdoor or adventure education is not as widespread in Germany as in other countries, e.g. in Australia.

However, Hahn contributed to the initiation of a very related educational approach, the experiential education (German: “Erlebnispädagogik”) although he did not create this approach, never even used this particular term. Due to the adverse conditions in Nazi Germany experiential education was hardly employed before 1945 and even after the fall of the 3rd Reich it was put into action very slowly.

Today, experiential education is a widespread approach in Germany, however some people hold the opinion that it is still near its infancy. Apparently many organisations and companies offer programs and activities based on experiential education but it is not a common approach used in the normal school system.
Often the terms ‘experiential education’ (German: ‘Erlebnispädagogik’) and ‘outdoor training’ (German: ‘Outdoor Training’) are used in a very similar way. Most organisations and professionals equate both terms, stating that the first term is commonly used in the context with children and youth education whereas ‘outdoor training’ relates to adult programs and especially corporate team training.

Provider and Clientele in Germany (May 2007)

Judging from what kind of outdoor training programs could be found in an unsystematic search on the internet in May 2007, the main clientele of outdoor training providers seem to be corporate teams and organisations seeking support in their personnel and team development. There is also a wide range of organisations offering outdoor programs for children, adolescents, families and school classes with or without disabilities. However, in line with the argumentation above these programs are more commonly referred to as experiential education programs.
Schools seemingly start to make increased use of these offers when planning their school trips. To run educational outdoor trips on a regular basis is by no means as common as in Australia, though. Apart from that the outdoor programs often differ a lot from the typical Australian outdoor education programs which is of course also caused by the utterly different environment prevailent in Germany.

Recent Research: Value of Outdoor Training (Kern & Schmidt, 2001)

Scientific examination of the efficacy and value of outdoor trainings in Germany is rare. Kern and Schmidt (2001) assessed the use and prospects of outdoor training in the corporate context in 2001 in order to clear the shortcomings of scientific research which was hardly employed in this field up to that date. In their paper, unfortunately only available in German, the history of outdoor training in Germany and the comparison to experiential education is delineated very well in detail.
Kern and Schmidt (2001) state, that outdoor training has its roots in experiential education and the first corporate training programs based on experiential education emerged in the early 1970s. However, the success of programs in line with the experiential approach didn’t kick off before the late 1980s. Today ‘outdoor training’ and ‘experiential education’ are mostly treated interchangeably, although a training outdoors doesn’t automatically imply an educational purpose. In their comparison between ‘outdoor training’ and ‘experiential education’ Kern and Schmidt list common features as well as contrasts but as outdoor trainings developed from the traditional experiential education approach, the two concepts are very related. In the authors’ point of view differences are mostly due to the responsible professionals working in the relevant fields who create the particular programs and guidelines.
Kern and Schmidt (2001) sum up their snap-shot of the situation in saying that experiential education as well as outdoor training established themselves in the market but need to network better in order to learn and benefit from each other.

Resources used to write this brief summary:

- Horizonte Outdoor Homepage

- Wikipedia.de: “Erlebnispaedagogik”

- Wikipedia.org: “Outdoor education”

- Baumgartner, W., Beiser, D. (organisation horizonte): Erlebnispädagogik konkret

Kern, H., Schmidt, D. (2001). Nutzen und Chancen des Outdoor-Trainings. Eine Methodentriangulation zur Überprüfung des Praxistransfers im betrieblichen Kontext (Dissertation).

students/klaperski/1._history_and_assessment_of_the_current_status_quo.txt · Last modified: 2007/05/24 18:38 by sklapers
Recent changes RSS feed Creative Commons License Donate Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki