Outward Bound's Educational Approach
An Outward Bound course is designed using the principles of Experiential Outdoor Education. Experiential Outdoor Education is 'learning through doing'. Throughout the course, students are actively engaged in questioning, investigating, experimenting, solving problems, assuming responsibility, and being creative. An Outward Bound course is not restricted to the confines of timetables, syllabus and curriculum; so lessons are learnt as participants are ready to learn them- often at different speeds and at different times. As participants learn, they are encouraged to transfer the lessons into their own 'real-world' context.
The Learning Environment
The nature of the Australian Bush "Outdoor Classroom" presents a 'place apart' from familiar comforts and usual support systems, and equipment is purposely kept very simple. Without the shields of modern technology and familiar comforts, students are challenged to draw upon their personal and group resources. Without many of the complexities of modern life the learning situations are simplified so that the links between actions and consequences are clear and meaningful.
An accompanying teacher will be partnered with an Outward Bound instructor and will make up an essentially self-sufficient working/learning unit. It is important to set the expectation that the teacher and the instructor will not be organising and directing them throughout the entire course. However in the early stages it is important to show the students how to have successes in their new environment. The program is introduced to the students as "their" course and as much as possible the teacher and the instructor will empower the students to make their own decisions through a 'guided discovery' style of teaching to solve the problems that arise in the Outward Bound context. As the course progresses, the teacher and the instructor step back more and more, so that by the end of the program the students are responsible for running their own course!
Often teachers reflect that this 'stepping back' is the biggest challenge on course. It can be very different to a typical classroom style where the teacher is in charge and students learn directly from the teacher. "Stepping back" is a process of encouraging, empowering decision making and experiential learning, allowing mistakes (with no safety ramifications), providing very little or no guidance or 'quick answers' to encourage initiative and problem solving.
There will be times when ideal choices are not made. These are 'teachable moments' - the students can be guided to learn from their own actions and consequences.
The Teacher-Instructor Team
From the start it is asked that teachers and intructors establish a compatible working relationship which accommodates each individual's style, and is also appropriate to the nature of the group and the environment. It is essential at this time to set expectations about how the Teacher- Instructor Team can be actively involved, committed and cooperate to achieving the goals of the program and ensure a positive experience for all.
The teacher and instructor(s) are the responsible adults on course and need to be vigilant at all times as well as support each other in "taking time-out" to self-manage. Good communication between the teacher and the instructor(s)is fundamental to the success of the program. Any concerns, questions, suggestions should be verbalized as soon as possible.
Most importantly have fun sharing a unique Outward Bound Experience!