If you want to learn to navigate throw away the map!

Loynes, Christopher ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9779-7954 (2016) If you want to learn to navigate throw away the map! The Outdoor Learning Blog…by Natural Connections .

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Navigation using maps has been a ‘core skill’ of outdoor learning since it’s early days. I heard myself saying ‘I’d be lost without a map’ at a conference in Australia in conversation with local practitioners including an aboriginal national park ranger. He laughed saying ‘I always know here I am’. A Finn, an Australian and I decided in that moment to experiment. What kind of experiences could we facilitate in the wild travelling without maps? The Finn let his students undertake a self-reliant journey across the tundra in winter. They thought it could be done in five days, might take ten and planned on fifteen. In the end it took twelve days. Using natural navigation such as the sun, stars, wind direction and river valleys as guides and staying in camp when it was a blizzard or no visibility, they headed east until they reached a catch feature, a north south road, where they were picked up. The Australian let his students loose in the bush with the rule that they must always stay on a trail. The bush was dense and the trails few, all of them bringing the group to one exit from the forest or another. The group emerged after three days and a walk they enthused about for weeks afterwards. I managed just a few hours in a Lakeland woodland. Two groups set out to create a walk with natural markers as waypoints. They then turned a description of the route into a poem that they then taught to the other group. Each group would then try to follow the path of the first group. It worked a treat – even with lines involving ‘sunlit birches in autumn colour’! – it was a day of sunny periods and birch was the dominant tree! A key for all of us was a change in our attitudes to time as a safety factor and to space in that we needed to know where our groups were. In each case risk assessments focussed on the skills, equipment and experience of the group so that they could mange space and time effectively for themselves. However, we also noticed a significant change in the nature of the experiences reported by the participants. The focus on nature was considerably enhanced – including noticing more and the apparent development of new knowledge, understanding, skills, behaviours and values. I decided to experiment further.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: The Outdoor Learning Blog…by Natural Connections
Publisher: Natural Connections
Related URL(s):
Departments: Academic Departments > Science, Natural Resources & Outdoor Studies (SNROS) > Outdoor Studies
Additional Information: Online article.
Depositing User: Christopher Loynes
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2016 10:46
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 15:30
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/2296


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