To examine outdoor education in China we must first ask the question: What is outdoor education?
The Institute For Outdoor Learning says that:
“Outdoor Learning is a broad term that includes: outdoor play in the early years, school grounds projects, environmental education, recreational and adventure activities, personal and social development programmes, expeditions, team building, leadership training, management development, education for sustainability, adventure therapy and more. Outdoor Learning does not have a clearly defined boundary but it does have a common core.”
From Dr. Roger Greenaway, http://www.outdoor-learning.org/.....
From wikipedia: “organised learning that takes place in the outdoors” they also point to a list of standard activities like canoeing, rock climbing and trekking; and say that “Outdoor education draws upon the philosophy, theory, and practices of experiential education and environmental education.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outdoor_education
When & Where
When did western style outdoor education first arrive in China?
Probably the first arrival of an outdoor education training centre was Hong Kong Outward Bound in 1970.
What locations are good for outdoor education in China?
China is a vast country with a wide range of landscapes and topography’s, from the humid subtropic’s in the south to the Taklamakan desert in the north west, from the soaring peeks of the Himalaya to the rice fields of central china there is a wealth of outdoor environments to choose from. Programs close to home and far a field are possible with great locations within a few hours drive from Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing Hong Kong and many other cities. Visit our locations page to learn more.
Why outdoor education?
Young people growing up in this part of the world have a high pressure school system. Virtually all the emphasis both at home and in school is on classroom learning. Although the classroom is and always will be the backbone of school education, to build well rounded members of society it's critical to engage students with real world experiences. As we discovered above, outdoor education is an all encompassing term covering many types of adventure and outdoor provision. But maybe even more important are the tools used in its delivery.
Many people are familiar with the term experiential education, and environmental education. Experiential education as defined by the Association for 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.” www.aee.org
The best environments for experiential learning often involve escaping the walls of the classroom and using the wilderness to provide some of the most memorable and stimulating learning opportunities for students.
Environmental Education (as its name implies) aims to educate people about our natural environments. This again ties in perfectly with outdoor education; where learning about the environment is the goal and conducting structured learning in the outdoors (outdoor education) provide the necessary catalyst tying facts to real world experiences. But why stop there? Let's tie the outdoors, education and experiential education together. At Zen Quest Adventures we like to refer to this as holistic outdoor education or 'holistic education', a truly multifarious approach. We strive to get students involved in programs before they arrive by putting them in touch directly with local people to arrange their service projects. We also do our best to follow up on their learning when they return to school.