I believe the spring and summer of 2020 has the potential to have some big impacts on the world of Outdoor Learning; more than the many lost learning opportunities and challenging economic and social impacts. The really significant interruptions to routine and established practice experienced by most of us, have forced a time of reflection and raised questions about the role and value of purposeful and planned time in the outdoors.
Formal surveys, many online forums and a wealth of conversations with clients and colleagues have painted a pretty clear picture of Outdoor Learning across the UK. This picture shows dedicated professionals grappling with health-based constraints, loss of access to learners and beneficiaries, and the requirement for them to re-design and re-articulate their service offer. In addition, the UK-wide picture is varied. The pandemic has revealed the extent to which Outdoor Learning professionals are truly understood and valued by different governments and education, natural environment and health institutions across the UK. Regardless of this very mixed picture, I suggest the need for exercise extends beyond the recommended physical activity. It is likely that the pandemic will result in long-term changes that provide both opportunities and challenges for Outdoor Learning. If what you do is to be better understood and valued, now is the time to examine and exercise that reflective muscle.
When was the last time you developed new Outdoor Learning-related knowledge and incorporated it into your practice? How do you go about refining your knowledge and developing your skilful use of that understanding?
I have gained some insight into and been reminded of some of the key features of my own professional development during the past few months of turmoil:
- - I know only what I can remember at any given point.
- - I remember more when I am engaged and motivated by the issue at hand.
- - My skilful use of that knowledge requires repeated practice: thatincludes being imaginative.
- - Failure, curiosity and objectivity enable development.
In a time when the economic, social and personal challenges threaten to create a completely new world, I find it is helpful to remind myself of these most valuable features of my capacity to change.
I am personally encouraged by the progress being made by sector representatives in building a single organisation, UK Outdoors, to maximise the future credibility and impact of Outdoor Learning in our society. The recent launch of new Professional Recognition pathways is a significant part of this “bringing us all together” in the Outdoor Learning community.
At a time when engaging with the outdoors in a planned and purposeful way has never been more important, I’d like to encourage you to look closely at the Professional Recognition pathways.
This represents a conscious development in identifying the value of Outdoor Learning professionals through improving meaningful equivalency with others. It is a first step towards individual chartered recognition and applies to you whether you are delivering a specific Outdoor Learning model, or whether you manage an Outdoor Learning organisation or facility, or you are neck deep in research or sector workforce development.
The Professional Recognition process is also an important opportunity for you to be pro-active in a time when many of us have found ourselves reacting to rapidly changing constraints and challenges. I hope you create time to take that opportunity and encourage and support others to do likewise.
Learn more about the new Professional Recognition pathways and find details on how to apply: