Cultivating lived-body consciousness: Enhancing cognition and emotion through outdoor learning

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Abstract

Through using school-based outdoor learning as the research context, the paper analyses the connections between bodily experiences and the embodied mind. Recent theorizing in outdoor learning, in reflecting phenomenology and Deweyian influences, has teased out how the relationships between the self, others and nature (environment) can be extended to include embodied experiences. This would, it is argued, add something extra to either the intrinsic pursuit of enjoying practical experiences or the instrumental quest for subject knowledge gains via cognitive- informed analytical cycles of action and reflection. While generally sympathetic to this critique, we consider there is a cognitive and emotional need for embodied experiences to demonstrate that they can be suitably contemplative as well. Through drawing upon Tiberius (2008) naturalist-informed theorizing, the paper reviews the part bodily experiences in outdoor learning can play in cultivating stable values and in developing reasoning practices that provide insights into how personal responsibility can be exercised in relation to how we live. Through referencing the Scottish policy context, the paper exemplifies how learning outdoors can flourish on the basis of a joint body-mind focus; where pupils review their relations with others and nature, as well as valuing times when they are absorbed in experiences which fully engage their personal interests, skills and capacities. To enhance the prospects of these learning gains occurring we provide a self-check set of questions for teachers to review to as part of appraisal of learning and teaching outdoors

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