Ministers’ of state come and go and those with a portfolio for education and training are no different. There are obviously many challenges associated with frequent change of leadership in this way. A significant one for those of us seeking a change to the value placed on outdoor learning is the emphasis and terminology associated with some of the key outcomes of high quality outdoor learning.
The increasing focus on ‘character education’ driven by the previous administration appears to be gently fading....or is it? My experience at a recent forum in Westminster was that though terminology and emphasis may have shifted the desired outcomes remain the same. It is those desired outcomes of higher levels of educational engagement and attainment, increased employability, commitment to a role in wider society and responsibility for the environment we live in, that also remain key outcomes from well designed and facilitated outdoor learning activity.
So should we care what the latest jargon being used by our politicians is? For any of you who have studied the psychology of influencing the answer may be obvious. I suggest that if you wish someone to change their stance, in this case the value placed on outdoor learning, then you are more likely to succeed if you use terminology that has currency and meaning for those you are wishing to influence. I suggest that the current terminology with most influence is ‘social mobility’.
Though there is definitely still work to be done on defining routes to social mobility, there is clearly commitment from the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to identify how to best achieve this. If you are seeking to ensure your outdoor learning practice is most understandable and impactful with schools, colleges and youth groups, you can do worse than look at BIT’s work. This team has some strategic influence and is developing some good understanding that is available to all. Their insight into developing perseverance, using stretch goals, 100% focus and inspirational role models, is a great example.
The Institute continues to ensure that good practice in outdoor learning is developed through research, promotion and teaching. 2017 will see the development of regional research hubs to achieve this...see my previous blog. I expect to see this work to take a longer term view of good outdoor learning practice, or at least longer term than the average length of tenure of a minister of state!