Adventure Learning: Not Everyone Gets to Play

RETHINKING NEGOTIATION, Vol. 2, VENTURING BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, Christopher Honeyman, James Coben, Giuseppo DePalo, eds., DRI Press, 2010

16 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2010

Date Written: September 2, 2010


Educators/trainers try very hard to be inclusive. But sometimes we adopt learning strategies that have the opposite effect. Unless we are careful, the programs we develop may exclude participants because of disability, ethical issues, cultural differences, spirituality, and religion.

Adventure learning encourages students to physically leave the classroom in order to experience how theoretical models and principles apply in the “real” world. Adventure learning admittedly has substantial value. But the initial rush of enthusiasm must be tempered. When participants are directed to venture out of the classroom in order to perform specific tasks, some individuals may find it impossible to complete those assignments.

When a student, without warning or notice, suddenly is confronted with the fact that an essential part of the learning experience will be experiential, and consequently impossible for him or her to complete, then all participants are harmed. The student will be isolated by the abrupt and complete separation from the group. The characteristic that makes this student different will be highlighted in a dramatic fashion. Unique insights attributable specifically to the experiential nature of the exercise will be unavailable to the student. Although the rest of the students who can participate in the adventure learning exercise likely will report their experiences to the entire group once that group is reassembled, the fact that the excluded student only can hear about an adventure learning experience emphasizes the fact that the excluded individual(s) did not share this learning opportunity.

The harm is not restricted to the excluded individual(s), however. To the degree that we believe that diversity has inherent value and that different perspectives are important, an adventure learning exercise can exclude someone as effectively and completely as a bold lettered “No ‘__s’ Allowed” sign (feel free to fill in the blank). Unique perspectives that may be valuable for the entire group will be lost. Furthermore, adventure learning exercises often lead to more intense and multidimensional experiences than one can have in the classroom. Shared experiences of this nature help create connections, and perhaps even friendships, among those who articipate. Individuals who are excluded, however, not only miss the experience itself, they miss the opportunity to build connections with their fellow participants. Particularly when it comes to programs that last only a few days, this loss can be impossible to overcome and the excluded individuals may be relegated to the periphery of the group.

Keywords: Negotiation,Teaching.Learning,Adventure,ADR,Mediation,Training,Conflict,Dispute,Resolution,physical,disability,multi-cultural,diversity,language,religion,ethics,morality,discriminate,exclude,discrimination,international,classroom,ADA,Americans with Disabilities Act,pedagogy,liability,accommodation

JEL Classification: A20,A21,A22,A23,C70,C90,D74,I20,I21,129,J20,J50,J52,J53,J58,J70,J71,J78,J79,K30,K40,M10,M53

Suggested Citation

Larson, David Allen, Adventure Learning: Not Everyone Gets to Play (September 2, 2010). RETHINKING NEGOTIATION, Vol. 2, VENTURING BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, Christopher Honeyman, James Coben, Giuseppo DePalo, eds., DRI Press, 2010 , Available at SSRN:

David Allen Larson (Contact Author)

Mitchell | Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105
United States
651-290-6388 (Phone)


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