Outdoor adventure education to enhance democracy in sport
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Outdoor adventure education (OAE) is not a new concept in education and physical activity. The word adventure has its root from the French term aventure, evolved from Latin word adventurus, meaning “about to arrive,” but this has, over the years, been transmogrified to have with it exciting event which often may be embedded with some elements of risk and/or danger, yet the outcome is uncertain (Ewert & Sibthorp, n.d). One may juxtapose the term to pursuing an enterprise with a sense of potential risk such as a business venture, but for clarity, ‘adventure’ in this article means a pursuit in an outdoor/physical activity setting within an educational context.
A reflection on the benefits of OAE by Hopkins and Putnam (2012) states “If adventure has a final all-embracing motive it is surely this; we go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb the mountains and sail […] we extend our horizon, we expand our being, we revel in a mastery of ourselves which gives an impression […] that we are masters of our world” (Wilfred Noyce, quoted in the book, p. 3). A further reference in the book, the National Curriculum Physical Education Working Group is quoted: “Outdoor education is not a subject, but an approach to education which is concerned with the overall development of young people” (p. 3).
OAE is not a new phenomenon, but has been discussed by many scholars within education. Among the various proponents, the quote of Wilfred Noyce suits, in my view, the adoption of OAE in basic schools’ curriculum to enhance democracy in sport.
OAE in basic schools’ curriculum
Most basic schools around the globe have physical education and health programs to build on the psychomotor and skill development of children. The inclusion of OAE within the schedules of the physical education periods would build within the children the need for inclusion, openness, togetherness, diversity and trust as they adventure, whether as individual or in groups by extending on their horizon, expanding their being, reveling a mastery in themselves, and hence, developing within them democratic values along with their physical activity pursuits.
OAE in school curricula at the basic level would go a long way to open up the minds of our future generations to inculcate in them certain virtues that are democratically oriented alongside their engagement in sporting activities, to better enhance the advocacy, awareness and education of democracy in sport.
Various education sectors and the sports sectors across the globe, particularly in Africa and precisely Ghana, should work together and adopt best practices in other jurisdictions, as sport and education are now ‘twin-towers’ capable of complementing each other to achieve and sustain the SDGs. In the instance where expertise in OAE may be lacking, governments should endeavor to build and develop such capacities in an environment where it is best practiced to instill in our youth virtues that would enhance and promote democracy, particularly within the sport ecosystem, which is now a major tool for development.
In jurisdictions where physical activity, health and education programs have been omitted from the schools’ curricula, we should reconsider its return, to offer school children a platform to engage with one another, explore nature, discover themselves and develop democratic values and confidence that would foster discourse on democracy across disciplines, particularly in sport for development.
The adoption and promotion of OAE within basic school curriculum would not only foster and improve physical activity dimensions, but also aid in openness, togetherness, trust, and diversity, as children learn to discover themselves through adventure education, void of risk, injury and harm to them, thereby building on their confidence to echo their views and opinions on matters being discussed. Often, people may coil as a result of little or no exposure and engagement with one another, and may hinder diverse views during discussions which may affect democratic discourse. But when people are exposed in their youth through OAE to develop confidence, openness, and trust in themselves, it may foster communication, drive inputs, limit fear and, in the long run, enhance democracy.
Ewert, A., & Sibthorp, J. (n.d). WHAT IS OUTDOOR ADVENTURE EDUCATION? Retrieved from https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/what-is-outdoor-adventure-education on February 10, 2023.
Hopkins, D., & Putnam, R. (2012). Personal Growth Through Adventure. Routledge Publication.
Frank Appiah Kusi is an Assistant Lecturer in Sport Management at the School of Sports and Exercise Medicine of University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana. Appiah Kusi is also a PhD Student at the Graduate School of Business and Management of Philippine Christian University, Manila, Philippines. His research focus on sport sponsorship and marketing.