What is Outdoor Experiential Learning?
Outdoor Learning at Kippure Estate
A traditional classroom scenario might stir images of a teacher or professor standing in front of a group of students, lecturing about a particular topic or demonstrating a procedure on the board. It is not until the students have the opportunity to put this theory into practice that they are able to more deeply understand or retain the newly acquired information.
Experiential learning takes on an even deeper form of education. Simply put, experiential learning is learning through doing or hands-on activities. According to UNESCO (in “Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future”), “Experiential learning engages students in contexts that are personally relevant to them. This approach to learning also involves making opportunities for debriefing and consolidation of ideas and skills through feedback, reflection, and the application of the ideas and skills to new situations”. Young students visiting a farm and personally feeding the animals are probably more apt to remember the diet of those animals then if they were to simply read it in a storybook. In the same breadth, a college student training to be a mechanic, nurse, teacher or journalist will probably learn more during a practicum than in the lecture hall.
Kurt Hahn is credited for inspiring educators to combine experiential learning with the outdoors. Hahn founded numerous educational institutes including Outward Bound in 1941. Since that time, many nature and adventure centres have incorporated outdoor experiential learning into their programming.
According to Mr. Peter Burridge (“Outdoor Experiential Learning: Building Exemplary Practice”), nature makes a particularly ideal classroom for experiential learning: “…nature allows participants the spirit of self reliance, of risk and adventure, the freedom to make mistakes, the sense of exhilaration when achievement overcomes fears, the excitement of learning about oneself and the overwhelming feeling of space and harmony”. Burridge adds that nature allows the imagination ultimate freedom and learners to experience the direct results from their actions.
You undoubtedly engage in experiential learning every day, whether it’s troubleshooting a jammed photocopier or figuring out the moods of a new colleague or friend. Having the opportunity to engage in meaningful and relevant experiences, however, with the chance to debrief or consciously reflect afterwards all while being surrounded by a genuine environment – that is a form of education long to be remembered.
At Kippure Estate, we offer outdoor experiential learning opportunities for children, corporate groups and sports teams. There are so many skills and life facets you have a chance to learn, from bushcraft skills and orienteering to team dynamics. For more information on our teambuilding or educational activities, which happen to be fun and exciting as well, visit:TeamBuildingIreland.com and OutdoorEducation.ie