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Moral and Spiritual Development in Adventure Education and Outdoor Pursuits . By: Bruce Szcyubialka ESS 777 Dr. Jeff Steffen. Moral Development. The maturation of individuals’ ability to balance simultaneously their own rights and responsibilities with those of others (Solomon, 1997).

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Moral and Spiritual Development in Adventure Education and Outdoor Pursuits


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    1. Moral and Spiritual Development in Adventure Education and Outdoor Pursuits By: Bruce Szcyubialka ESS 777 Dr. Jeff Steffen

    2. Moral Development • The maturation of individuals’ ability to balance simultaneously their own rights and responsibilities with those of others (Solomon, 1997). • Moving from a relatively self-focused framework for processing the correctness of an action to the one that is more encompassing of other’s needs (Newton, Sandberg, & Watson, 2001).

    3. Character • A component of moral development • Having the wisdom to know what it right and having the courage to do what is right (Docheff, 1997). • Thinking and behaving in a manner that reflects the positive values of society (Newton, Sandberg, & Watson, 2001).

    4. Spiritual Development • To grow in one’s religious faith • Growth of the moral and religious nature • The religious faith considered here is Christianity

    5. Adventure Education • Deliberate use of adventurous experiences to create learning in individuals or groups, that results in change for society and communities (Priest, 1999). • Goals of adventure education include: • Recreational outcomes • Physical skill development • Cognitive development • Character development

    6. Outdoor Pursuits • Non-mechanized, outdoor recreation activities utilizing the natural environment that contain elements of real or apparent danger, in which the outcome can be influenced by the participant and circumstances (Ford & Blanchard, 1991).

    7. Key Pieces of Research • Participants in the challenge course did achieve a higher Principled Moral Reasoning score than those students in other physical education courses (Smith, Strand, & Bunting, 2002). • Social learning and structural-development teaching strategies both develop moral judgment, moral intention and prosocial behavior, but only the structural-developmental theory (used commonly in adventure-outdoor programs) greatly enhanced moral reasoning (Gibbons & Ebbeck, 1997).

    8. Key Pieces of Research • Adventure-outdoor philosophy does comply with the theoretical tenets and implementation guidelines of the model of moral action (Newton, Sandberg, & Watson, 2001). • The findings revealed that 90% of the informants believed that the trip (a 20 day spiritually focused wilderness expedition) made a significant life experience (Daniel, 2007).

    9. Key Pieces of Research • Christian spiritual beliefs can be strengthened through a combination of explicit spiritual teaching and the “real world” setting of group and personal challenges in the out-of-doors (Griffin, 2003).

    10. Adventure Education and Outdoor pursuits Aid in Moral Development • Adventure-outdoor programs are cooperative by nature and foster compassion and enhance empathy skills • Adventure-outdoor programs purposely utilize moral dilemmas to enable participants to engage in moral dialogue • Fairness may be enhanced in adventure-outdoor programs that incorporate moral dialoguing

    11. Adventure Education and Outdoor pursuits Aid in Moral Development (Continued) • Adventure-outdoor programs (typically grounded in the structural-development theory) focused on moral development will increase participant’s moral judgment, reason, intention, and prosocial behavior • Structural-developmental teaching strategies, by nature, require individuals to question, reflect, dialogue, and negotiate toward the resolution of moral dilemmas

    12. Adventure Education and Outdoor pursuits Aid in Moral Development(Continued) • Adventure-outdoor programs include social development and developing socially responsible attitudes and behaviors • Adventure-outdoor programs offer improved moral reasoning, even when ethical and moral reasoning was not the stated objective

    13. Adventure Education and Outdoor pursuits Aid in Moral Development(Continued) • Adventure-outdoor programs adhere to the Full Value Contract • Adventure-outdoor programs incorporate Challenge by Choice

    14. Adventure Education and Outdoor pursuits Aid in Spiritual Development • Adventure-outdoor programs with an explicit spiritual component can present participants with growth in both spiritual “walk” (actions) and spiritual “belief” (foundations) • Spiritually focused adventure-outdoor programs can make a significant life experience for participants

    15. Adventure Education and Outdoor pursuits Aid in Spiritual Development(continued) • Adventure-outdoor programs with a spiritual focus encouraged parallels between the participant’s wilderness experience, their own experiences, and the stories found in the Bible • These spiritually focused adventure-outdoor programs cause a greater awareness of God, self, and the natural world

    16. Recommendations • Physical Education programs and faith based organizations need to use experiential learning (preferably adventure based) when moral development is the objective. • Physical Education and faith based programs need to use structural-developmental strategies when teaching moral education. • Educators need to teach their students how to think, not what to think and this is best done through experiential learning.

    17. Recommendations • Physical Educators and spiritual mentors need to offer adventures for youth to keep them out of high risk activities. • Educators and spiritual mentors need to focus more on their relationships with their students. • Educators and spiritual mentors need to live moral lives.

    18. Recommendations • Physical Educators and spiritual mentors should be trained in facilitating the processing times of the adventures. • Spiritual mentors need to offer solo times when on a wilderness expedition. • Churches should offer initiatives, challenge courses, and outdoor adventure trips for their youth.

    19. References • Brendtro, L., Strother, M., (2007). Back to Basics Through Challenge and Adventure. Reclaiming Children and Youth. 16(1), 2-6. • Chase, C. (1990). Cognition, Ethics, and Direct Experience- Ingredients for Leisure in the Natural Environment. Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance 61(4), 55-56. • Daniel, B. (2007). The Life Significance of a Spiritually Oriented, Outward Bound-Type Wilderness Expedition. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(3), 386-389. • Gibbons, S., Ebbeck, V. (1997). The Effect of Different Teaching Strategies on the Moral Development of Physical Education Students. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 17, 85-98. • Griffin, J. (2003). The Effects of an Adventure Program with an Explicit Spiritual Component on the Spiritual Growth of Adolescents. Journal of Experiential Education 25(3), 351. • Henderson, K., Thurber, C., Schueler-Whitaker, L., Bialeschki, D., Scalin, M., (2006). Development and Application of a Camper Growth Index for Youth. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(1), 1-17. • Hunt, J. (1996). Character-based Ethics. Zip Lines 12-15. • Hunt, J. (1991) Ethics and Experiential Education as Professional Practice. Journal of Experiential Education, 14(2), 14-18. • Lehmann, K. (1991). Connecting Ethics and Group Leadership: A Case Study. Journal of Experiential Education 14(3), 45-51.

    20. References • Mitten, D. (2007) An Analysis of Outdoor Leaders’ Ethics Guiding Decisions. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(3), 373-377. • Nesteruk, J. (2007). Contributing to Our Students’ Moral Lives. Change, September/October 52-53. • Newton, M., Sanberg, J., Watson, D. (2001). Utilizing Adventure Education Within the Model of Moral Action. Quest, 53, 483-494. • Smith, C., Strand, S., Bunting, C. (2002). The Influence of Challenge Course Participation on Moral and Ethical Reasoning. The Journal of Experiential Education 25(2), 278-280.