Understanding Educational Diversity in Outdoor Education Program Design and Facilitation

Mr Brendon Fogarty1
1The Outdoor Education Group, Burwood East, Australia


Outdoor Education experiences provide students with opportunities to participate in adventurous activities that connect them to the natural landscape, to better understand themselves and their peers, and in turn, enable the values of personal challenge, respect and responsibility that is realised through the direct experience.

With an increased focus on student centred learning, an understanding of the importance of the wellbeing, resilience and mental health of young people, it is now more than ever at the forefront of educational settings and ideals. An ability to bounce back from setbacks or challenges with confidence and optimism is a vital tool for any young person as they enter adulthood. Connecting students with the outdoors, within small communities and with their own physical and emotional challenges provides a rich environment for the development of personal and social growth.

Providing for opportunities that focus upon the student as a diverse, multi-faceted being requires a new way of thinking and facilitation of Outdoor Education programs. Different students learn in different ways and programs must aim to individualise the learning for all students; including recognition that each student has different cognitive and behavioural stages of development. Furthermore, schools are adopting a train of thought that places a greater importance and means of validation to the collection, analysis and interpretation of information about students to inform teaching and learning outcomes.

The presentation will discuss the rationale and need to diversify program design, delivery and outcomes to meet the needs of current pedagogy and curriculum trends, whilst providing examples of such programs that have been piloted over the last year. Furthermore, the presentation will look at the use and application of tools that measure evidence based outdoor experiences. A focus on programs that incorporate contextual well-being concepts and character building in wilderness settings will be discussed.

Brendon is determined that outdoor education and adventure learning is paramount to the education of all students. That all students may have an opportunity to experience the world through exploration, reflection and experiential learning activities; in adventure camps, wilderness environments, or community settings, their lives can be positively changed. By providing these experiences, the foundation can be set for shaping a child’s growing knowledge, confidence and identity.
Brendon completed a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership at the Australian Catholic University in 2012. Focusing on educational leadership pedagogy and application.

Brendon has worked in a variety of educational settings including – both State and Catholic schools within Victoria. His experience in primary and secondary schools brings a breadth of curriculum understanding and practicum

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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