Environmental immersion, slow pedagogy & serendipitous learning
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Environmental immersion, slow pedagogy & serendipitous learning

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CPD with a difference: spending a weekend immersed in the outdoors: ‘doing fieldwork’, exploring, enquiring, collaborating, reflecting, learning – oh and having lots of fun! We had no set ...

CPD with a difference: spending a weekend immersed in the outdoors: ‘doing fieldwork’, exploring, enquiring, collaborating, reflecting, learning – oh and having lots of fun! We had no set outcomes other than to share, enjoy and provide a space in which creativity might flourish. Find out what we did and how we reflected and learnt.

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  • So with that in mind how did Immersion in Wales work for me...? Did it lead to transformation or change in my outlook etc...
  • Immersion in the area 5 year association with the area and university - know it really well. As undergraduate was in love with the area – never wanted to leave – and came back to do my Masters. Still regard the area as my spiritual home and Cadair is a very strong spiritual place for me – not least because its dad’s resting place and where I will go when the time comes!
  • Immersion in time It’s not often get a weekend to oneself to do what you want to do...a real luxury to have a weekend to engage with a place, with like minded people and ‘do some geography’ (the phrase I used to explain to my colleagues what I was up to). In one sense for me much of the time was spent taking in the changes in the area – been deeply interesting, though not always pleasant, to see the changes that have occurred and how my perceptions/memories have had to absorb that change – transformation of my world....
  • Immersion as a facilitator The enjoyment and satisfaction of sharing knowledge and making discoveries – for me personally its one of the key joys of being a teacher – I love sharing/discovering as a mutual event but find especial satisfaction in sharing knowledge of places with others and seeing their reactions/ interactions with those places. I think there is also something in the notion that as the place facilitator you see the area differently to when you are working as the teacher. Teaching opportunities with children are different to CPD opportunities – or are they? So transformation occurred because the purpose of the visit had changed...
  • Immersion with others This relates to my engagement as a participant. The small group enabled us to get to know each other better and this led to mutual support and also feeling of security – being able to share and float ideas. Mutual respect and support is essential for this type of activity. Transformation in my thinking about the area and how it could be used with children occurred as I saw others reacting to it and this caused me to reflect on how I would use the area in the future.
  • Immersion with the subject Bringing an activity to offer others was a great way of sharing and enjoying. It opened up a whole range of possible developments for my own practice and also how the area could be used for exploring geography in ways I had not thought of. It was fascinating to see how ideas were bounced around and explored
  • Immersion in the environment The impact of the scenery/environment on me – reaffirmed my love of the area. Impact of the scenery/environment on others – their pleasure/discovery of familiar areas to me had a real impact on me – pleasure, reward, broadening of my appreciation of the place through seeing it through their eyes. This was different to when I had brought students here – another transformation in my appreciation of the area. The awe and wonder idea something worth further exploring. Not sure where I heard it but the idea is that we can look at an object or place or we can experience an object or place – awe leads to physical/mental response e.g. churches have the ability to generate awe and wonder. A picture of a church has impact (wonder) but really engages only the visual senses. On the other hand a visit engages all the senses – smell, sounds, touch and sight – even taste with the communion wine etc...this is where we usually experience the awe effect.
  • One aspect of the environment is worth noting – the impact of the weather – different people react differently, a different group might have reacted differently. The way we worked would have been different in different weather conditions. This is why returning to the same place to ‘do geography’ always leads to different results. I may have climbed Cadair 100 times but it’s different each time! An example of long term transformative learning...
  • Immersion as an agent of change An interesting twist on this is experience is how the experience leads to change – change in the self. An expression of this is fear – fear of the unknown – unknown people/places/events. Do we keep going back to the same area for fieldwork because it is ‘safe’? How do we instigate change in places we use/visit? Interesting to offer the participants the opportunities in the area and to see if/how they took them up – relates to the idea that my opportunities might be your challenges, my safe place might be your nightmare place. Opportunities are not always taken up because of the fear of the unknown. One of my roles as facilitator was to help overcome that ‘fear’ of the unknown area? This takes us into the area of transformation that occurs during and after immersion...which Sharon and I are going to investigate further
  • Interesting to offer the participants the opportunities in the area and to see if/how they took them up – relates to the idea that my opportunities might be your challenges, my safe place might be your nightmare place. Opportunities are not always taken up because of the fear of the unknown. One of my roles as facilitator was to help overcome that ‘fear’ of the unknown area? This takes us into the area of transformation that occurs during and after immersion...which Sharon and I are going to investigate further
  • Immersion Impact on my practice As a result of the trip I have become increasingly immersed in creativity and the whole concept of sense of place – what a place means or becomes to us as individuals and how we explore that relationship and share it. So my professional self has undergone a transformation...
  • Tuan’s idea of nature averse – children may not know how to explore places because they have become nature averse. Therefore we need to help them to explore – immersion is one way of doing this – initially short term immersion – lessons, then residential for a longer term version...
  • The concept of sharing places is I think really interesting – the Mywalks concept and Paula’s walk with the children is a brilliant example of sharing and enjoying through the discovery others make in an area of familiar to you. In primary geography it is so invigorating/ rewarding/revealing to see children exploring a place and letting you share in their perception of that place – their imagination means you are never quite sure what they will find/see/invent in a place you THOUGHT you knew so well. A lovely quote I overhead the other day on a field visit with some reception children sums it up – 2 children visiting a ‘new place’ – ‘I wonder what this place looks like when it is raining...’ there is a thought for you...a whole new world opens up when the weather changes...

Environmental immersion, slow pedagogy & serendipitous learning Environmental immersion, slow pedagogy & serendipitous learning Presentation Transcript

  • Environmental Immersion, Slow Pedagogy and Serendipitous Learning Paula Owens & Steve Rawlinson Some implications for creativity and CPD
  • Background: A two night stay at Borth YHA for Geography Champions Aims: To spend time out of doors To revitalise our senses To share ideas To learn from each other To enjoy ourselves
    • Organisation
    • Everyone asked to ‘Please turn up & ‘lead’ on something you want to share . Be prepared to spend nearly all day outside’.
    • Informal appointment of a ‘facilitator ’ who knew the area well.
    • Practical - bed & board at minimal cost YHA.
  • This is what we did. We ... chatted in cafes ate cake in car parks had picnics on sand dunes Laughed, played & asked questions Being in nature has many psychological benefits & brings out the best in people (Kaplan & Kaplan 2011)
  • explored natural objects, colours and shapes in the environment and made up stories about sculptures we created .
  • We looked at lakes and waterfalls and wrote poetry. We explored, observed, listened, touched, smelled & reflected. Environmental vocabulary is best learnt through first hand experience (Ward 1998)
  • We learnt new skills like how to ‘geocache’. We hid things and ourselves in the environment. We laughed, asked questions and played.
  • We discovered things at large and small scales Cinnabar caterpillars Froglets Patterns made from tiny pieces of material Red Kites Children are usually more likely to see the minutiae of everyday life – the tiny, inconsequential things that adults often miss (Owens 2008).
  • We played games with maps, looked at children’s work & listened to music from other cultures. We learnt, shared & reflected.
  • We investigated human & physical features in the landscape We absorbed new sights and wonders Unstructured experiences in natural environments give opportunities for decision making and promote creative and imaginative play; they also encourage greater social interactions which aid learning (Pretty et al 2009).
  • We used technical gadgetry to record in different ways A slow pedagogy, or ecopedagogy, allows us to pause or dwell in spaces for more than a fleeting moment and, therefore, encourages us to attach and receive meaning from that place . Payne and Wattchow (2009) p.16
  • Serendipitous learning has no goals in the sense objective driven learning has (King et al 2001); it is often personal and experiential and describes what we discover by chance that we didn’t set out to.
    • OUTCOMES
    • Happy Geographers
    • Refreshed teachers
    • Lots of new ideas
    • Increased social capital
    • Increased skills & knowledge
    • Feeling back in touch with nature
    • Reminded why fieldwork matters
    • Potential for transformative learning.
    The meanings we carry away in our heads from a place are part ours and part shared: they owe much to cognitive and emotional interplay, which Taylor (2001) argued should be recognised in theories of transformative learning. Experiences like these have the power to build social capital which enables us to then learn more from each other (Pretty et al 2011).
    • ENABLERS
    • Collaboration & trust
    • Time to play & permission to slow down
    • Time to challenge deep seated assumptions
    • Creativity given room to thrive
    • No predetermined outcomes
    • Natural settings: woods, sea mountains, rivers, waterfalls
    Growing evidence shows that current approaches to encouraging sustainable living do not result in long-term, large-scale, social change. This is because they do not address the deep seated social, cultural and psychological structures that hold many unsustainable patterns of behaviour in place. WWF (2012)
  • This ‘story’ can rightly be accused of being self- indulgent. It is. It’s all about US . WE matter. TEACHERS and EDUCATORS - in fact ADULTS matter. If we don’t take time to focus on us from time to time then we are not refreshing our curiosity about the world, our connections with environments, our intellectual , emotional & social capital , our sense of wonder and exploration , our ‘ joie de vivre ’, our capacity for laughter , adventure and play , our sense of renewal with the land .... and we cannot do the best for children. We need to stay emotionally and intellectually healthy so that we can teach from the mind & the heart - with renewed passion and creativity.
  • Learning is not always found at the end of the path But in the unplanned distractions along the way
  • Some of the underpinning thinking and theory
  • Transformative Learning
    • Transformative learning (TL) is the process of ‘perspective transformation’
    • Three dimensions:
      • psychological (changes in understanding of the self)
      • convictional (revision of belief systems)
      • behavioural (changes in lifestyle)
  • TL Brought about by...
    • Important process of TL is for participant to change frame of reference by
    • Critically reflecting on assumptions and beliefs
    • Consciously making implementing plans to bring about new ways of defining their world
  • TL Results from...
    • Mezirow suggests TL results from a disorientating dilemma triggered by:
    • A life crisis
    • Major life transition
    • Accumulation of transformations over a period of time
    • As teachers we can promote the transformations e.g. by such activities as deep immersion
  • Deep Immersion
    • Deep immersion is the concept of changing perspectives by immersing yourself in a place
    • And so to Wales... The ‘facilitator’s perspective’
  • Immersion in the area
    • 5 year association with the area and university - know it really well.
    • Never wanted to leave...
    • My spiritual home and Cadair Idris is a very strong spiritual place for me
    Tuan describes how we become ‘rooted’ to places and form deep attachments that promote feelings of stewardship and concern.
  • Immersion in time
    • Weekend to oneself to:
    • do what you want to do
    • engage with a place, with like minded people and
    • ‘ do some geography’ (the phrase I used to explain to my colleagues what I was up to). Opportunity to take in the changes in the area.
    • Deeply interesting, though not always pleasant, to see the changes
    • My perceptions/memories have had to absorb that change – Transformation of my world...
  • Immersion as a facilitator
    • As a teacher I find enjoyment and satisfaction in:
    • sharing knowledge & making discoveries
    • sharing knowledge of places with others and seeing their reactions/ interactions with those places. As the place facilitator you see the area differently.
    • Teaching opportunities with children are different to CPD opportunities – or are they?
    • So transformation in my perception of the area occurred because the purpose of the visit had changed...
  • Immersion with others
    • Perception as participant.
    • Small group enabled us get to know each other better
    • mutual support
    • feeling of security – being able to share and float ideas. Watching others reacting to the area transformed my thinking/appreciation of the area by making me reflect on how it could be used with children and colleagues
    • Reflect how I would use it in future -this caused me to reflect on how I would use it for my teaching in the future.
  • Immersion with the subject
    • Bringing an activity to offer others was a great way of sharing and enjoying
    • opened up a whole range of possible developments for my own practice
    • identified for me how the area could be used for exploring geography in ways I had not thought of
    • showed the process of exchange as being highly transformative & developmental
  • Immersion in the environment
    • The impact of the scenery/environment:
    • reaffirmed my love of the area
    • Enabled me to see it through the eyes of the others – transformation of view
    • Different transformation to seeing it through student eyes.
    • Awe and wonder...
  •  
  • Immersion in the environment ...
    • The impact of the weather...
    • different people react differently,
    • way we worked would have been different in different weather conditions
    • returning to the same place to ‘do geography’ always leads to different results.
    • Cadair always different long term transformative learning...
  •  
  •  
  • Immersion as an agent of change or transformation
    • How does the experience lead to personal change – change in the self – psychological change?
    • Overcoming fear of the unknown – unknown people/places/events.
    • Do we keep going back to the same area for fieldwork because it is ‘safe’?
  • Immersion as an agent of change or transformation...
    • I offered participants the opportunities in the area but
    • my opportunities might be your challenges,
    • my safe place might be your nightmare place.
    • Facilitator tries to help overcome that ‘fear’ of the unknown...Transformation
    • Further investigation needed ...
  • Immersion Impact on my practice
    • Become increasingly immersed in
    • creativity
    • concept of sense of place
    • Sense of place - what a place
    • means or becomes to us as individuals and
    • how we explore that relationship and share it.
    • So my professional self has undergone a transformation...
  • Immersion Impact on Practice
    • Tuan’s idea of nature averse – children may not know how to explore places
    • Louv – nature deficit – children no longer explore their world
    • Immersion is one way of overcoming this
    • initially short term immersion - lessons
    • longer term – day trips & residential
  • Immersion Impact on my practice
    • The importance of sharing places e.g.
    • the Mywalks concept of sharing and enjoying through the discovery others make in an area of familiar to you.
    • In primary geography it is so invigorating/ rewarding/ revealing to see children exploring a place and letting you share in their perception of that place
    • Their imagination means you are never quite sure what they will find/see/invent in a place you THOUGHT you knew so well – Transformation for both parties...
    • How important is the location and / or awe and wonder of the surroundings? i.e. would this work in any surroundings? How do you define awe and wonder?
    • How important was it for us to see ‘new landscapes’ and / or see ‘new landscapes with fresh eyes’ to jolt us into new ways of thinking?
    • How would this have worked without a ‘facilitator’ who knew the area well?
    • How important were the group numbers and dynamics?
    • How essential is the length of the experience e.g. residential versus a day?
    • How important were the collaborative aspects e.g. bringing something to share?
    • How important was the unstructured exploration?
    • How did this compare with other kinds of CPD? What were the benefits / costs?
    • How successful was this and why? How can we evaluate it and measure it?
    • What will the impacts be on participants practice?
    Some Questions ...
    • As a result of the trip I have become increasingly immersed in creativity and the whole concept of sense of place – what a place means or becomes to us as individuals and how we explore that relationship and share it. The concept of sharing places is I think really interesting – the Mywalks concept is a brilliant example of sharing and enjoying through the discovery others make in an area familiar to you. In primary geography it is so invigorating/ rewarding/revealing to see children exploring a place and letting you share in their perception of that place – their imagination means you are never quite sure what they will find/see/invent in a place you THOUGHT you knew so well. A lovely quote I overhead the other day on a field visit with some reception children sums it up – 2 children visiting a ‘new place’ – ‘I wonder what this place looks like when it is raining...’ there is a thought for you...a whole new world opens up when the weather changes...
    • Steve Rawlinson Principal Lecturer Northumbria University
    6 months later ...
    • In terms of the way that it has influenced my practice; there have been no major paradigm shifts however there have been a number of ways that the ideas that I obtained have been developed and embedded into my practice. Based on the work with Andy Goldsworthy that we did I have arranged for a cross curricular project with the Art department with Year 7 students. We will be doing this in the first half of the summer term linking in with our local area unit. I have also looked at some of the ideas of exploring places with landscape and poetry including eight way thinking. I incorporated some into my sixth form field trip that I ran almost immediately after we got back from Borth. These were really useful when taking students to a 'unknown' place and getting them to develop a 'sense of place'.
    •  
    • I think sometimes it is difficult to measure the precise impact of activities like the Borth weekend because much of this percolates into practice slowly rather than having an instant and precise impact. This is particularly true with the way I work as a Subject Leader in an 11-18 school I won't change everything immediately but these ideas will be in my head as I revise the units of work on a rolling basis. What is really nice is to have a weekend about Geography and sharing practice in a very open way; this makes such a difference compared to the CPD events that I normally go on. These are normally courses about improving examination performance; although these are useful it is in a very different way. They are very intense and focused; this was intense but relaxed and allowed for a greater depth.
    • Graeme Eyre Secondary teacher
    • I did some reading up about 8 way thinking and led a Geog Champions network meeting on it in November.  As a result my Key Stage team rethought our topic 'Sammy the seagull visits out school' and tried to include as many as the 8 areas as we could.  It made a big impact on the Year 2 teacher's planning which made the experience for the children distinctly geographical.  She suddenly saw how easy it would be to focus fieldwork in any location and is going to try it on a farm visit next term. 
    • Lindsay West Year 1 teacher
    • Year 2 BA Ed students- A sense of place and enquiry based learning : As a direct result of Borth I decided to review my Winchester fieldwork as I wanted it to be more experiential, explorative and serendipitous. As I was researching slow pedagogy I came across an article Playful Learning by Louis Rice and so I adopted the derive as an approach to explore Winchester.
    • Year 4 students – Geography, Science and RE subject specialists’ day visit to Gilbert White Field Study and museum, Selborne: The aim of the day was to be inspired by Gilbert White’s ability to view the natural world ‘with a fresh and intensely personal vision, without in any way sacrificing precision’ (Mabey, 1986, p. 188). So we adopted a slow pedagogy approach and through a range of serendipitous experiential activities students and tutors were inspired by the site to be playful, watchful and thoughtful. Tutor and student responses are (hopefully!) to be shared at the Fifth Annual Conference of Teacher Education for Equity and Sustainability (TEESNet) on 12TH July 2012 at the London South Bank University. The paper is entitled ‘Selborne: a place of responses; a cross-curricular opportunity for ITE students to ‘watch narrowly’. Key words identified for the paper: PERSPECTIVES, CONNECTIONS, VIEWPOINTS, WATCHFUL, EMERGENT, SERENDIPITOUS LEARNING, SUSTAINABILITY.
    • Sharon Witt Senior Lecturer University of Winchester
    • Transformative learning outdoors
    • Inspired by the Borth experience and the WWF Natural Change project I was keen to explore how an experiential approach could transform student’s learning about place, landscapes and sustainability through the provision of an intense individual experience within a group dynamic. This study was established as a direct result of our Wales fieldwork and seeks to explore how a ‘slow pedagogy or eco-pedagogical approach’ to geographical fieldwork can transform the depth of student’s learning about place and landscapes through the provision of an intense individual learning experience within a group dynamic in a context of changing and unpredictable circumstances. The study will examine changes in the participants’ views of outdoor learning experiences. The project will be partially funded by a £1973 teaching and learning grant from the University of Winchester.
    • Sharon Witt Senior Lecturer University of Winchester
  • Refs.
    • Fuller, D. Askins, K. Mowl, M. Jeffries, J. & Lambert, D. (2008) Mywalks: Fieldwork and living geographies Teaching Geography Summer 2008 Sheffield: Geographical Association
    • Grabov, Valerie. "The Many Facets of Transformative Learning Theory and Practice." In: Transformative Learning in Action: Insights from Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education . no. 74, edited by P. Cranton, pp. 89–96. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Summer 1997.
    • Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. (2011), Well-being, Reasonableness, and the Natural Environment . Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being , 3: 304–321.
    • King, F., Young, M., Drivere-Richmond, K. & Schrader, P (2001). Defining Distance Learning and Distance Education. AACE Journal 9 (1): pp.  
    • Louv, R. (2008) Last Child in the Woods Chapel Hill: Algonquin Pub
    • Mezirow, J. (1995). "Transformation Theory of Adult Learning." In: In Defense of the Lifeworld , edited by M.R. Welton, pp. 39–70. New York: SUNY Press.
    • Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74 , 5–12.
    • Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress . San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
    • Owens (2008) MYWALKS: Walk on the Child Side Primary Geography Autumn 2008
    • Payne, P. & Wattchow, B. Phenomenological Deconstruction, Slow Pedagogy, and the Corporeal Turn in Wild Environmental/Outdoor Education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education , 14, 2009pp.15 – 32
    • Pretty J. Angus C. Bain M. Barton J. Gladwell V. Hine R. Pilgrim S. Sandercock, S. and Sellens, M. 2009. Nature, Childhood, Health and Life Pathways, Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society Occasional Paper 2009-02.University of Essex, UK.
    • Taylor, E. W. (2001) Transformative learning theory: a neurobiological perspective of the role of emotions and
    • unconscious ways of knowing Int. J. Of Lifelong Education, VOL. 20, NO. 3 (May–June 2001), 218–236
    • Torosyan, Roben. (2007). Teaching for Transformation: Integrative Learning, Consciousness Development and Critical Reflection . Unpublished manuscript. http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/rtorosyan/
    • Tuan, Yi-Fu (1974) Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception,Attitudes and Values. Prentice Hall. Englewood cliffs, New Jersey.
    • Ward, H. (1998) ‘Geographical Vocabulary.’ In Scoffham, S. (ed.), Primary Sources: Research Findings in Primary Geography. Sheffield: The Geographical Association. Pp. 20–21.
    • WWF (2012) http://www.naturalchange.org.uk/about-the-project/ accessed 23.02.2012
  • Thanks to Graeme Eyre, Sharon Witt, Lindsay West, Sarah Wilks, Arthur Kelly.