I was involved in running an outdoor experiential learning activity recently in an Executive Education event. Interesting insights – First, it actually can be run in a way that works for certain learning objectives. Second, I possibly ‘contributed’ to the limitation of such learning approach.
Learning Objectives – The event was about to learn about group dynamics and own unconsciousness. So, the outdoor activity was meant to be stretching in order to surface the dynamics and assumptions. Instead of aiming for nice-nice feeling of accomplishing a task, the participants will experiment frustration and failure. In fact, the underlying thought is that the more struck the group experiences, the more the participants can learn. Unlike project work, the outdoor can add a dimension of physical memory e.g. muscle fatigue to reinforce the learning retention.
Given the intensity mentioned above, we spend a lot of time in advance to contract with the participants. We also a distance in order not to ‘collude’ with them e.g. making the activity easier which the coaches / consultants can unconsciously do so. [I can elaborate more on the ‘how’ later’]
My ‘Contribution’ – This is probably deeper realisation. I feared that the participants will not be serious about outdoor. It may be the case, but I had such fear because I was not serious about outdoor. I alienated outdoor possibly because unconsciously I did not want to experience the physical challenge and failure. I projected such unconscious excuse to the participants. It is already relieving and amazing to hold this hypothesis.