Real World Learning: toward a differentiated framework for outdoor learning for sustainability


  • Lewis Winks



Outdoor learning, Sustianability, Emancipatory learning, Instrumental learning


The Real World Learning network (RWLn) set out in 2011 to explore elements which contribute to a ‘deep and meaningful’ outdoor education experience. Following three years of work, the RWLn developed the ‘Hand Model’, a learning model designed to support educators in the development of Outdoor Learning for Sustainability (OLfS). Since its launch in early 2014, the model has been used for planning, delivering and reflecting upon OLfS experiences. Making use of the comments made in Činčera’s (2015) Real World Learning: a critical analysis which highlights inconsistencies existent within the model’s internal logic, this paper considers the perceived contradiction between emancipatory and instrumental approaches to learning. Beginning with a comprehensive introduction to the Hand model, this paper goes on to discuss the theoretical divide which the model spans between a goal-led, knowledge based approach promoted by the model’s focus upon understanding and values, and a pluralistic and exploratory approach typified by aspects of educational empowerment and experience. In response to this and augmented by examples, a differentiated conceptual framework is presented to facilitate a pragmatic application of the model from a practice perspective, making use of what has been termed a ‘blended approach’, whilst acknowledging degrees of inconsistency and dissonance from a theoretical perspective. Additionally, the model is viewed from a context perspective where questions are asked regarding the appropriateness of particular approaches depending upon the setting in which learning takes place. It is hoped that by moving beyond theoretically entrenched positions a mediated middle ground for the model’s application may be established.


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Author Biography

Lewis Winks

University of Exeter

Geography Department, PhD researcher


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29. 12. 2015

How to Cite

Winks, L. (2015). Real World Learning: toward a differentiated framework for outdoor learning for sustainability. Envigogika, 10(3).



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