Outdoor education : its origins and institutionalisation in schools with particular reference to the West Riding of Yorkshire since 1945
This thesis offers an account of the origins and institutionalisation of outdoor education with particular reference to the West Riding of Yorkshire since 1945. It begins by describing what was understood by the term 'outdoor education' in the period from about 1890 to 1944 and relates this to its political, social and educational determinants. It then draws upon this broad, national account to focus attention on the origins and institutionalisation of outdoor education in the West Riding since 1945. Through an account of Bewerley Park, first as a camp school and later as an outdoor pursuits centre, the thesis explores how, under the influence of Alec Clegg, outdoor education was used by the West Riding to mitigate social and economic inequalities. Later, under the influence of Jim Hogan, outdoor education was also used to give substance to the belief that children should be treated equally and on their individual merits. The examples of practice in outdoor education presented in this thesis have, it is argued, been supported by a rhetoric that draws upon four major themes. These are imperialism, the physical well-being of the population, the stemming of moral decline and the narrowing of class and/or gender divisions. It is suggested that these themes might be grouped into two broad categories associated with a rationale that is either principally educational or social. The educational rationale of outdoor education focussed, in the early years of the century, at least, on character training and education for a class-based leadership and was largely associated with education through the physical - mens sana in corpore sano. The social rationale of outdoor education sought to address such matters as poor health, juvenile delinquency, preparedness for armed conflict, economic decline, industrial management and class tensions. The emphasis here was on personal development, co-operation and collaboration, and the exploitation of the potential of outdoor education in promoting social cohesion, if not social control. For the West Riding, there was never any doubt that outdoor education should be used within a programme of personal and social development or that the 'personal' development was for 'social' ends. In the West Riding, this thesis suggests, outdoor education was a means of offering children a set of standards of behaviour and morality which Clegg, and those sympathetic to his views, thought they should acquire for purposes of minimising social disruption.