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Risk, Enterprise and Society Consultation at St George's House PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 February 2014

Report from Discussion Group 3, Ian Lewis FRSA reporting, Director, Campaign for Adventure

By Professor Shirley Ali Khan

Discussion Group 3 members came from very diverse back grounds. Whilst we recognised the opportunity the consultation offered to come up with a number of key actions to help shift the Campaign for Adventure onto a new level, we felt that it was also necessary to establishing a shared sense of meaning around the consultation agenda. So we trusted our colleagues in other groups to come up with a robust action plan and decided to focus on developing the context for these actions.

Context

The starting position of the consultation seemed to be the assertion that we are living in an increasingly risk averse society, that this is stifling creativity and if we don't do something we will be ill-equipped to address the challenge of living in a global society. The global challenge includes the globalisation of the economy, advances in science and technology and maintaining the planetary support systems on which our life and our quality of life depend.

The suggestion is that we need to take a different, less fearful approach - an approach which takes on board the values of the holistic world view referred to in Roger Orgill's key note address. In other words, we are recognising that underpinning the changes we wish to see will require a values shift from a mechanistic to a holistic world view. The holistic world view includes placing a value on:

* the earth as a living system and the interconnectedness of its parts ( including an understanding that people are a part of nature, not apart from it)

* the spiritual dimension - recognising that some things are sacred

* a sense of belonging to a variety of communities

* equity and inclusion

* personal responsibility and trust

Outdoor educators seem to be claiming that these values are alive and well and being promoted within their sector - or to put it another away that they are leading the values shift. They say that adventurous outdoor activity helps people to get to know and trust themselves and each other in a deep and real way; that adventurous outdoor activity helps people to understand and appreciate the power, beauty and spirit of nature ( which includes the power, beauty and spirit of people); that adventurous outdoor activity helps people to make responsible choices; and that it is fun. In short, they claim that adventurous activity helps people to live and learn more creatively, more fully and more meaningfully.

So our suggestion is that in order to create a more enterprising, less fearful, sustainable society we need increase opportunities for people of all ages to lead more adventurous lives.

Keynote speakers identified a number of action areas in relation to removing barriers to more adventurous activity in the fields of regulation and media. Our group had more expertise in the areas of learning and community so we decided to focus on developing the context in these areas.

Learning

We discussed at some length the features which characterise best practice in adventure learning (which we felt reflected the core values of the holistic world view). These include:

* out of classroom / lecture room

* experiential

* value based

* involved in real issues

* learner centred

* inspirational - reaching out to the heart and the mind

* animated

We felt very strongly that there was a need to redress the balance between the amount of learning that took place in the classroom / lecture room and the amount that took place outside the classroom / lecture room - which could be outdoors or within other settings.

We agreed that learning that fosters people of a particular disposition or attitude is more important and more fundamental than learning relating to skills and knowledge development, and we wondered how to stimulate the Department for Education and Skills to recognise this and accordingly reorient its practise. This challenge goes right to the heart of the purpose of our education system. We wondered what kind of education system would result if its core purpose was 'to help shape people of care and compassion, with a sense of hope and appreciation of beauty and a willingness to serve the world with their gifts.'

Community

We agreed that the link between individuals and their communities is of vital importance in terms of developing a sense of belonging which is a pre-requisite to feelings of care and compassion for others and for the environment.

Life starts in a community and a community develops through the sharing of knowledge and wisdom between fellow human beings. It is a mutual learning process; a conversation between one generation and another; it is the way meaning and a sense of belonging is created.

The fact that most of us belong to several communities eg our family; our geographical community; our work community; our spiritual community; our national community; our global community; our communities of interest, mean that we can be engaged in several learning processes, make multiple attachments and have to deal with several layers of meaning. Life is not as simple as it used to be and there are associated advantages and disadvantages of the increasing complexity of our daily lives that would probably be useful to understand more fully.

We did generally agree that in terms of our communities of location, a more interactive relationship between our education institutions and local communities needed to be struck. One of our group suggested the introduction of a community / citizen service which need not apply solely to learners in the formal education system. Such an initiative would have to find a way of making citizen service a 'cool' / desirable thing to do for all age groups - not just something you do if you are out of a job or have been 'naughty'.

The discussions could have gone much further but we ran out of time ...

 
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