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A Pedagogy of Place

Outdoor Education for a Changing World

Brian Wattchow and Mike Brown

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A ‘pedagogy of place’ refers to an alternative vision for outdoor education practice. This timely book, A Pedagogy of Place, calls into question some of the underlying assumptions and ‘truths’ about outdoor education, and in turn offers alternatives to current practice that are responsive to local conditions and cultural traditions. In this renewal of outdoor education philosophy and practice, the emphasis is upon responding to, and empathising with, the outdoors as particular places, rich in local meaning and significance.

Current outdoor education theory and practice is influenced by cultural ideas about risk and adventure, and by psychological theories of personal and social development. However, in recent decades the professional discourse of outdoor education has made a noticeable shift to include education for the ‘environment’ and ‘nature’. This has resulted in a mismatch between theory and practice: traditional notions of proving oneself ‘against’ the challenges of the outdoors are antithetical to the development of an empathetic relationship with outdoor places, which growing concern with today’s environment demands.

This book will be the first of its kind to articulate a renewal of philosophy and practice for outdoor education that is in keeping with the educational needs of today’s young people as they grapple with considerable social and ecological changes in a rapidly changing world. The authors draw extensively on international, national and local literature and provide compelling case studies drawn from the Australian and New Zealand contexts.

'A Pedagogy of Place is an extremely pertinent and important text both practically and academically and it successfully ‘troubles’ taken for granted assumptions and practices current in much outdoor education, providing possibilities for rethinking and re-enacting new and more enriching approaches to outdoor education pedagogy. We strongly recommend the book to academics, researchers, students and practitioners who want to develop their thinking, conceptualisation and practice of outdoor learning and experience. It has global relevance and we forecast that the book will find a place in most higher education libraries.'
— Alan Hockley & Barbara Humberstone, Managing Leisure, 17(1), 75-77, 2012

'This book offers a very different perspective on outdoor education and it holds the potential to sow many seeds about what outdoor education could become. I hope that it will also become a conceptual framework around which to organise a substantive body of research in outdoor education.'
— Robyn Zink, Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 15(1), 56–58, 2011

'This is an excellent book and is a valuable addition to contemporary discussion about what we are trying to achieve in outdoor education in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.'
— Dave Irwin, Out and About, August 2011

'Wattchow and Brown have written a book that is readable, and actually enjoyable. It mixes enjoyable personal narratives, with well structured reviews of academic literature. The book recognizes a challenging ideal and a changing world. It is an excellent addition to the body of literature and will definitely give me ‘food for thought’ in both designing my next placed-based field school on Haida Gwaii and using A Pedagogy of Place as a key text.'
— Patrick T. Maher, e-Review of Tourism Research (eRTR), Vol. 9, No. 4, 2011

About the authors

Brian Wattchow is a Senior Lecturer and Course Director of Sport and Outdoor Recreation (SOR) in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. He is a foundation member of the Movement, Environment and Community (MEC) research group at Monash. Brian has published more than 30 articles in academic journals, scholarly books and in the public domain, most often centring on his interests in outdoor pedagogy, sense of place and land identity. He co-authored Group Management in the Wilderness (University of Calgary, 1989) with Bill March and has recently published his first collection of poetry titled The Song of the Wounded River (Ginninderra Press, 2010).
    Away from work Brian is an avid golfer and reader, and enjoys camping, travelling and ‘toiling’ under the hot Australian sun on the small Gippsland farmlet where he lives with his family.

Mike Brown is a Senior Lecturer in the Sport and Leisure Studies Department, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato. He has worked in the outdoors in the UK, Australia and New Zealand over a twenty year period. During this time he has combined field positions with tertiary appointments which have proven to be useful opportunities for seeing outdoor education practice and theory from a variety of contexts. His research has appeared in a number of outdoor education peer reviewed and professional journals as well as in a number of edited books. He has examined some of the fundamental assumptions on which much outdoor education practice is based, with a view to strengthening outdoor educators’ understanding of the teaching and learning process. He serves on the board of several outdoor education trusts and is the editor of the New Zealand Journal of Outdoor Education.
    Outside of work Mike keeps active by competing in triathlons, undertaking the occasional sea kayaking trip and more recently ‘family camping’ – oh the joys of a thick airbed and a trailer to carry stuff, as compared to a thin foam mattress and a backpack!

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