2, 6, Heave! Sail Training's Influence on the Development of Self-Concept and Social Networks and Their Impact on Engagement with Learning and Education. A Pilot Study

By Henstock, Murray; Barker, Katrina et al. | Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, January 2014 | Go to article overview

2, 6, Heave! Sail Training's Influence on the Development of Self-Concept and Social Networks and Their Impact on Engagement with Learning and Education. A Pilot Study


Henstock, Murray, Barker, Katrina, Knijnik, Jorge, Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education


Introduction

Youth disengaged with learning are at risk of not fulfilling their potential and often become very difficult to be provided with the social support necessary to remain active contributors to society. Similarly, disengaged youth who do return to study are more likely to fail and drop out greatly reducing the prospect of creating constructive productive community members (Henry, Knight & Thornberry, 2012; Kirjansson, 2007). Consequently there is a need to identify strategies to promote engagement with learning and education. One such strategy is the use of experiential education.

Successful experiential learning is described by Priest (1993) as an approach to training and development utilising activities involving some form of perceived physical or emotional risk to bring about positive changes in individuals. Here learning is based in real world situations with both a social element and immediate consequences that in turn allows for future learning to occur (Wojcikiewicz & Zachary, 2010)

Among many experiential learning proposals that might be useful to reengage students with education--such as sports, project-driven programs, outdoor education - this paper analyses sail training as one potential avenue to provide disengaged youth students with tools to pursue further learning.

An experiential learning voyage aboard Australia's national sail training ship STS Young Endeavour requires youth aged 16 to 23 to live at sea in close confines with up to 36 other people they have previously never met, aboard a 33 meter tall ship for 11 days. During this time they engage in a number of experiential activities including; climbing a 30 meter mast, participating in teamwork activities such as sail-handling, conducting regular ship duties, steering the vessel and taking control of daily operations. 2,6, Heave! is a common call requiring all members of a sailing team to heave together to complete a task one person cannot accomplish alone. This becomes synonymous with the ethos of a sail training voyage which is - working together achieves more than working alone. Participants are also involved in a number of targeted debriefing scenarios which provide opportunities for both reflections on behaviours, feelings and attitudes, as well as how these informed thoughts can be related to life beyond the voyage. This paper shows how, by increasing opportunities to 2'6' heave together, sail training is likely to transform young people's lives in ways they could not imagine at first. We use the term experiential education rather than outdoor education in this paper as the ship and the marine environment appear to provide a context for the experiential elements of the program participants identified as being influential in their learning.

Burns, Collin, Blanchard, De-Freitas and Lloyd (2008) argue engaging and connecting young people in the broader social life is one of the key issues for Australian contemporary society. The authors believe that engaged young people are better prepared to become healthy adults with a greater potential to contribute to the society. They affirm that "young people, who are provided with opportunities to participate, experience a better quality of life and contribute to creating and building better communities" (p. 4).

In this paper we offer insights about a sail training experience from five young Australians who participated in a voyage with Young Endeavour and how this impacted their engagement with learning and education upon their return. We engaged in qualitative conversations both pre and post voyage, in order to have the participants reflecting on how their sail training voyage might impact their further involvement with education.

By looking at behavioural, affective and cognitive aspects of the participants' engagement, we aim to provide a better understanding of aspects where sail training seems to be a potentially good strategy to reengage youth in education. …

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