"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself."

- Galileo (1564 AD -1642 AD)

Learning In The Outdoors is about facing challenges in a natural environment to discover yourself and your potential and experience a truly new outlook to your relationships and your life.

Beginnings

Experimentation with adventure therapy started in early 1800s, but the first serious attempt to use experiential learning at the work place was made only in 1940s. Dr. Kurt Hahn (1886-1976), using experiential learning techniques, helped young merchant sailors to gain experience and skills necessary to withstand the ravaging attacks of German U-boats in the North Sea and survive. The program was so successful that it developed into a regular training program for merchant sailors. "Outward Bound", as the program was ultimately named, went on to become a movement that spread to other parts of the globe including USA and Europe.

Around the same time Outdoor learning techniques were also being us
ed -

  • by Lord Baden-Powell's Scouting movement to develop initiative and character amongst youth
  • by Military establishments in UK and USA for selection of the right candidates
  • for field studies in mountainous regions by institutions teaching Geography and
  • for survival training.

Outdoor Learning & Management Development

The beginnings of management development can be traced to the 'Scientific Management' theories of F W Taylor (1911) and Henri Fayol (1916) and pioneering works in behavioral sciences of Elton Mayo (1927-1932). From expounding of theories, to classroom based theoretic to participative type of exercises (case studies and management games introduced in the 1960s) saw a metamorphosis that lasted over half a century but it established the effectiveness of practice in training methodologies. Dissatisfaction with the development programs, however, still persisted, leading to indoor experiential learning exercises, which were introduced to develop interpersonal skills. Indoors? Why not outdoors? Breaking out of unnecessary mind blocks, several trainers (John Adair, The Leadership Trust and the team of Roy Williams and Chris Creswick) took the programs to the outdoors for conducting leadership and management development programs.

Theories

There are several theories about experiential and outdoor learning but the prominent ones are:

  • Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle (David A. Kolb, 1984) - 1. Concrete Experience 2. Reflective Observation 3. Abstract Conceptualization 4. Active Experimentation back to 1. Concrete Experience.
  • Brathay Learning Cycle (Greenaway, 2002) - 1. Do 2. Review 3. Plan Back to 1. Do
  • Developmental Model for OMD (Giges and Rosenfeld 1976) - Upward (Potential) - Outward (Relationships) - Inward (Self) - Downward (Nature)

Outdoor program goes beyond learning, the focus being development … self-development. Hence, the Giges and Rosenfeld model would be more relevant, because it defines self-development and self-discovery in context with the external and natural world.

Advantages

The Advantages of Outdoor Programs are many:

  • Transferability - Skills development can be easily monitored and measured and therefore easily transferable to the work place.
  • Complexity - Total flexibility in designing to any level of complexity. Across levels of management, working cultures, related but separate problems across different sections of business / industry.
  • Safety - Physical safety is ensured by the expert facilitators. Business Safety because decisions and actions have no direct business consequence.
  • Natural - Brings out the natural self and gives no opportunity to hide behind the curtain of level of authority and excuses.
  • Enjoyable - Most activities are pure fun and therefore encourages active participation and motivation to learn.
  • Memorable - Activities leave a lasting impression that enables better recall of both the learning and its application.
  • Reality - Problems are real, issues are dynamic, constraints are felt, people are real and the consequences are real.

Yes, there are disadvantages too ….

  • too much fun resulting in loss of learning focus
  • rare instances of abnormal behaviorism and
  • programs not being realistic enough

….. but none that an experienced and competent facilitator cannot take care of.

"Leadership.....Trekking.....Camping.....Team.....Communications.....Rafting.....Change.....Stress.....Climbing....!

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