Education or Entertainment – The 4 C’s of Outdoor Experiential Learning

Mr Peter Smith1

1Coefficent Pty Ltd , 2University of the Sunshine Coast

Education or Entertainment – The 4 C’s of Outdoor Experiential Learning

Observations during my career teaching outdoor education have led me to believe that quality outdoor education relies on the four Cs. Remove challenge, Connectedness, consistency or continuity from your program and you essentially remove the education from experiential learning outdoors. You may as well just pay for students to stay at the Big 4 Caravan Park.  Do you want integrity in your program or mindless entertainment value?

This presentation will reveal how challenge, Connectedness,consistency and continuity are critical to quality experiential learning occurring in outdoor education.  Specific examples will be evidenced of outdoor education programming in which these four elements have been implemented to result in highly developed learnings for students. As a proponent of this teaching methodology I will also draw on personal teaching experiences to highlight successes incorporating the 4 Cs.   Students taught using this methodology have highly developed relationships with self, others and the natural environment.

Intrigue abounds – Come learn about the 4 C’s


Peter Smith has spent his life teaching and inspiring people through facilitating outdoor education programs. His personal philosophy on teaching students outside can be best summarised in the following statement delivered at a staff training prior to Year 9 Journey 2016 (Trinity Anglican School )
“When instructing in the outdoors, keep it simple. Initially, simply ask for respect for self, others and the environment. Then bring the complexity in when they grasp the meaning of commitment, exhaustion, pain, suffering, joy, loss, disappointment, patience, power, fear and triumph. The outdoors is an unsurpassed environment to undertake this essential education. People are placed in situations regularly where they are taking real responsibility and often able to observe the consequence of their actions. All that is required by a good facilitator is to cloak the whole thing with meaning.”

When not teaching students outdoors Peter passes time telemark skiing and paddling canoes and kayaks hopefully on whitewater.

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