The two-fold objectives of this study are first, to elucidate John Dewey’s educational theory and examine its implications for outdoor education; and second, to examine the contemporary significance of outdoor education grounded in Dewey's model of progressive education. This study specifically focuses on three aspects of Dewey's thought: the educational purpose, the concept of experience, and the notion of human growth.
Dewey's pragmatic educational theory aims for social change through the application of its own definition of democracy. According to Dewey, human growth is an evolving process of accumulating experiences through personal interactions with the environment. For such experiences to be generated, occupations labeled manual creation activities must be undertaken by learners. Further, Dewey’s model aims to foster democratic attitudes and ideas through interpersonal occupational collaborations.
In brief, the analysis accomplished by the study allows the following inferences to be drawn: 1) scholars should reevaluate the immense potential of outdoor education to impart knowledge through the extension of diurnal activities and should reexamine its promise of encouraging the holistic growth of children; 2) the present-day social and educational significance of outdoor education vests in the inculcation of democratic attitudes and ideas in children; and 3) the social significance of outdoor education is growing because it can provide children who now encounter more indirect or secondary experiences the opportunity to accumulate direct or primary experiences.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze Kerschensteiner’s historical theory of outdoor education-specifically, his concept of “labor school-as formulated during Europe’s new education movement in the 1920s and 1930s. This concept is compared and contrasted with the traditional definition of outdoor education as “in outdoor, about outdoor, and for outdoor” as well as a more modern definition of outdoor education, which consists of three elements: by the natural environment, all events around the self, and one’s own self. This analysis is focused on understanding Kerschensteiner’s objectives and methodology, as well as his attempt to more deeply understand the meaning and value of “outdoor education”. In addition, this analysis compares his approach to some of the experiential learning systems that are currently used in Japan.
Three characteristics of outdoor education were identified as a result of this analysis. First, that the fundamental meaning of outdoor education is to build a more mature human being through practical actions and repeated introspection while in outdoor environments. Next, that outdoor education itself has a fundamental educational purpose of encouraging people to contribute to society in order to make a better world. Finally, that outdoor education encourages the growth a well-rounded character by providing students with valuable experiences that they wouldn’t have otherwise.