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Is it always necessary to review an experience to learn from it?

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Is it always necessary to review an experience to learn from it?

Are there not plenty of adventurous experiences which are rewarding in themselves, and in which the learning is self-evident?

Is not the outdoor environment valued because it allows people to learn directly from the consequences of their actions?

Surely adventures can be meaningful enough without needing to make sense of them through reviews?

When learning has already been an integral part of the experience, should reviewing not be seen as an optional feature? These are important questions to ask, because the experiences at the heart of adventure-based learning can be substantially different in character to the kinds of experiences which feed other forms of experiential learning. The importance of reviewing does seem to depend on the nature of the experience, but to conclude that 'big' experiences need less reviewing, seems insensitive and irresponsible. According to the authors of "The Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators" (Pfeiffer and Jones, 1983) it is "axiomatic" that the processing stages of the experiential learning cycle "are even more important than the experiencing phase". They even urge facilitators to be careful that the activity "does not generate excess data". Climbing a mountain or descending whitewater would surely be just the kind of experiences which would "generate excess data"! There is clearly an enormous difference between a way of working which advocates keeping experiences down to a reviewable size, and a way of working which is founded upon a philosophy of adventure.

The style of this book is a questioning one. It challenges readers to test out, or work out, their own philosophy and practice for reviewing in adventure-based learning. This approach has been adopted because it is a field in which there is such a wide variety of settings and purposes. There are also many different sources of practice from which a facilitator can draw inspiration for reviewing. These might include, for example: action learning, art therapy, behaviour modification, counselling, developmental groupwork, educational drama, experiential learning theory, gestalt psychology, meditation, nature awareness, sensitivity training, values clarification, visualisation, etc. Wherever the ideas come from it is important that there is a 'good fit' between the style of reviewing and the experiences generated by the adventure. This will help to ensure that what is gained through adventure is not lost through review. When the reviewing style 'fits', learners sense its value, and it is then the whole process - of activity and review - that becomes the adventure.

It is when activity and review are working well together that the real adventure takes off - the adventure of personal and social development. It is an adventure which includes three interdependent elements:

The challenge is to discover ways of merging these three elements rather than attempting to depend on any one model or sequence as a guide for practice. In the short term, a single element may dominate the experience, but ultimately this dynamic form of education depends on the harnessing and intermixing of these three sources of adventure: the activity adventure, the group adventure and the learning adventure.

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Roger Greenaway - Reviewing Skills Training - extract from Reviewing Adventures pp2-5 [SITE SEARCH]
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