Perceptions of involvement in a non formal experiential programme


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Paper presented at FERA Conference on Education 2013

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Perceptions of involvement in a non formal experiential programme

  1. 1. Perceptions of Involvement in a Nonformal Experiential Programme Paper presented at FERA Conference on Education 2013, Jyväskylä, 21–22 November 2013 Lauri Luoto Psycon Corp.
  2. 2. Motivation for the paper • • • The Patrol System is an experiential learning method applied by the Scout Movement. The method aims at active citizenship via peer leadership, small-group democracy, and outdoor adventures. Much of the research on the experiential learning approach is focused on measuring programme outcomes. Quite recently, however, several authors have called for more studies on how the results are achieved. This gap is sometimes referred to as an educational black box: “We know something works but we do not know why”. (1) With a few exceptions (eg. Rogoff et al., 1995) the educational black box is also true for the patrol system. (2) Yet, patrol membership is often seen as a very important learning experience: – When you learn in a patrol, how to work in a team, and as a patrol leader how to keep the patrol together in all possible situations, you have learnt the most important lessons for your life. (Christoffer Taxell, president, Confederation of Finnish Industries, 2005–2006 ). (3) – In the Scouts you learn how to work together and that everyone is valuable. Moreover, it has to be fun. These learnings apply to any situation and every organisation. (Anssi Vanjoki, EVP, Nokia Plc 1998-2010). (4) 1 Shellman 2011, Seaman 2008, Allison & von Wald 2013 2 About scouting as research subject see Vallory 2007, 45 3 Turun Sanomat 2013 4 Kipinä 2010
  3. 3. The Patrol System as an experiential education approach • • Experiential education (EE) can be defined as follows: “Experiential education is a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities”. (1) Compared with many other experiential education applications, the Patrol System has special characteristics – While many other EE applications last for days or weeks, patrols can have regular meetings for several years. Thus, it is sometimes seen as incomparable with other EE applications. (2) – Patrols are led by peer leaders , who are not educators but rather fellow learners. In Finland , the role of adult educators was increased in the current Scout Programme introduced in 2008. Still, the patrols described in this paper have usually had their meetings without direct adult supervision. – The role of intentional reflection is quite weak. Even the joint diaries kept by the patrols are quite descriptive in nature. 1 Itin 1999, 92 2 McKenney et al . 2009, 547
  4. 4. Public schools as an inspiration • • • • The Patrol System was developed in the early 20th century in the UK. That time saw many educational and social reforms, including moving all the primary and secondary schools under local government control and establishing many progressive schools. The Patrol System should be seen as a combination of many ideas that were topical at the time. (1) According to the founder of the Scout Movement, R.S.S. Baden-Powell, the movement offered to all boys the character training that many of them missed out on by not attending a public school. (2) It has been argued that the public schools and the Scout Movement shared many educational goals and operating principles . (3) Public school prefects are a model for patrol leaders. Prefects are pupils who have been given limited authority over other pupils. The prefect system is seen as major character training method in the public schools. At the time of the founding of the Scout Movement BadenPowell also promoted the use of the prefect system in elementary schools for character training. (4) 1 Hankinson 1995, 73-4; MacDonald 1993, 11 2 Jeal 1989, 36-7, 97; Rosenthal 1996, 104 3 Gerr 174-6; MacDonald 1993, 161 4 Kim 2010, 96; Weinberg 1967, 23
  5. 5. Progressivist influences • • • • • In the beginning of the 20th century there were two different traditions within British progressive education. One was influenced by Freud, and in those schools pupils shared the power with the teachers. The other tradition, the New School Movement, supported the initiative of pupils but also allowed the teachers to inspire and lead them. (1) Within the New School Movement some schools made particular use of the outdoors. Abbotsholme of Cecil Reddie was the initiator of the movement and had many similarities with the Scouts. Another school , Gordonstoun, was founded by Kurt Hahn, who later founded Outward Bound. (2) Hahn is often considered the most important figure within the field of experiential education, along with Dewey. Outward Bound was partly influenced by the Patrol System. (3) The Scout Movement also approaches Montessori's idea of education as preparing oneself for both the physical and moral world outside of the school, as well as the idea of encouraging pupils’ natural curiosity. (4) The interweaving of adult control and autonomy and initiative among youth is central to the Scout Movement. (5) 1 Searby 1989, 1,21 2 Cook 1999, 159 3 Veevers & Allison 2011, xvii, 53; Smith & Knapp 2011, ix, 284 4 Standing, E.M. 1998, 354-359; Warren 1986, 392 5 Kahane 1997, 55-58
  6. 6. Methodology and material • • • • • • In many Scout troops, the patrols keep shared diaries about their meetings. The patrol members usually write the entries in turns. The research material of this study consist of 272 diary entries covering the years 1957-1999. All the entries are from the same troop from Western Finland. The authors are aged between 10 and 18 Four patrols were chosen for a closer analysis based on – The quality of documentation – Shared authorship – Stability in patrol membership The patrols are named as follows: – The Wolves (operating in the 1980s), the Bulls (operating in the 1990s), the Curlews (operating in the 1980s) and the Ravens (operating in the 1970s) The goal is to give voice to the children and adolescents and hear their authentic perceptions. While the material gives information about how the Scouts perceived various activities, it is not a reliable source of what actually happened. The diaries in the picture are not those referred to in the article. Photo: Juha Haapakangas
  7. 7. Control and autonomy as perceived by patrol members Control through… Autonomy through… Supervision - Direct adult supervision was quite occasional. - The roles of the patrol leaders varied from unrecognizable to really dominant Setting goals - Joint goals created enthusiasm even though many of them were not implemented. - ”Then we started to design a boat for our patrol” Ravens - ”We made great plans and decided to collect money and travel to Stockholm” Curlews Programme and activities – Used quite actively by some patrols – When describing the delivery of training, passive expressions were often used – ”We were practicing reading sea maps - for the sake of appearances ” Ravens Joint planning – Even quite young Scouts used expressions like ”We agreed to go to an overnight hike” Values and traditions - Patrol yells, flags and other symbols were seldom mentioned. Often the use of such symbols was encouraged by adult leaders. - Patrol members identified ”un-Scoutish” topics Freedom of choice – ”Intially, we intended to go to the museum but we did not – then we decided to go to the police station, but we couldn’t get in. Well, then we went to the library and read magazines” Curlews
  8. 8. Resignation and social structures • • An earlier study shows that resigning from the Scouts is done in the connection with – the feeling of being an outsider in the patrol – the feeling that nothing is done in the patrol meetings (1) These two things seem to be interconnected. Those members who are less involved in the social structure of the patrol, give more emphasis to the content of the meeting: – ”We started by chatting. When we were in full swing, one unaccredited person came bragging about the victory of the Owls. So we continued the meeting by eating snacks we got from the Wolf Cubs.” Bulls – ”We did not do anything, but Peter came to see us for the entire meeting. Simon was coloring the map, but we others did not have anything to do. ” Bulls 1 Suomen partiolaiset, 2006,. 86.
  9. 9. Conclusions • • • Despite limitations, joint diaries are a useful source of information when trying to understand learning in patrols. Special attention should be paid to the social relations and the cohesion of patrols Even when adult involvement is increased, the balance between control and autonomy should be maintained.
  10. 10. References Allison & von Wald 2013. Enough about the outcomes … what about the process: Personal development and experiential learning. Journal of Outdoor Activities, 7(1), 24-29. Cook, L. 1999. The 1944 Education Act and outdoor education: from policy to practice. History of Education. Vol. 28, No. 2, 157 - 172 Gerr, H. 1981. Baden-Powells Entwurf einer Erziehung durch Scouting. Einflüsse und Entwicklungstendenzen. Würzburg Hankinson, A. 1995. Geoffrey Winthrop Young: Poet, mountaineer, educator. London: Hodder & Stoughton Itin, C. M. (1999). Reasserting the Philosophy of Experiential Education as a Vehicle for Change in the 21st Century. The Journal of Experiential Education 22(2), 91-98. Jeal , T. 1989. Baden-Powell. Yale: Yale University Press Kahane, R. 1997. The Origins of Postmodern Youth: Informal Youth Movements in a Comparative Perspective. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter Kim. S. 2010. Little Prefects - The Embodiment of Masculinity in Interwar Britain. In J-H Lim & K. Petrone. 2010 Gender politics and mass dictatorship. New York: Palgrave Kipinä. 2010. Ketään ei voi motivoida. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from Lim J-H & Petrone, K. 2010 Gender politics and mass dictatorship. New York: Palgrave MacDonald, R. 1993. Sons of the Empire. Toronto: University of Toronto Press McKenney, P. 2009. Girls' Outdoor Adventure Programs: History, Theory & Practice. In K. Warren et al. Theory & Practoce of Experiential Education, 535-554
  11. 11. References Rosenthal, M. 1996. The Chracter Factory. New York: Pantheon Seaman, J. 2008. Experience, reflect, critique: The end of "Learning Cycles" era. Journal of Experiential Education, 31(1), 3-18 Searby, P. 1989. The new school and the new life: Cecil Reddie (1858-1932) and the early years of Abbotsholme School’ , History of Education, XVIII/1 . Shellman , A. 2011. Looking into the Black Box. Journal of Experiential Education, v33 n4 p402-405 Smith, T. & Knapp, C. 2011. Sourcebook of Experiential Education: Key Thinkers and Their Contributions. New York: Routledge Suomen partiolaiset. 2006. Partio -toiveiden herättäjä ja pettymysten tuottaja. Helsinki: Suomen partiolaiset. Standing, E.M. 1998. Maria Montessori: Her life and work. New York: Plume. Turun sanomat. 5.5.2013 Taxell palkittiin partiolaisten juhlassa. Vallory, E. 2007. Global Citizenship Education. Study of the ideological bases, historical development, international dimension, and values and practices of World Scouting. Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra Veevers & Allison. 2011. Kurt Hahn: Inspirational, visionary, outdoor and experiential educator. Rotterdam: Sense Warren, A. 1986. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the Scout Movement and Citizen Training in Great Britain, 19001920. The English Historical Review, Vol. 101, No. 399. pp. 376-398 Warren, K. et al. 2009 Theory & Practice of Experiential Education . Boulder: Association for Experiential Education. Weinberg, I. 1967. The English public schools: the sociology of elite education. New York: Atherton Press