OUTWARD BOUND U.S.A.: Learning Through Experience in Adventure-Based Education by Joshua L. & Joe Boldt Miner

OUTWARD BOUND U.S.A.: Learning Through Experience in Adventure-Based Education

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KIRKUS REVIEW

You needn't be sold on the Outward Bound concept to respond to prime mover Josh Miner's account of its origin and spread to the US-but what follows, unfortunately, is little more than commemorative history: the founding of successive OB schools, the conduct of various OB outreach programs. As an introduction to the movement, however, this far surpasses Robert Godfrey's school-by-school report in Outward Bound (1980). Miner was a young WW II vet and fledgling, out-of-step educator when he first visited Kurt Hahn's reknowned Gordonstoun, in the Scottish Highlands--where boys were schooled, through physical exertion, in self-confidence and self-discipline--and its war-born offshoots: short-term OB courses in what some might describe as survival and service but which Hahn preferred to call competence and compassion. Hahn, as met here, is undeniably a Force--intellectually, emotionally, morally. He first has Miner get off the train a stop early--so that he'll experience the evening light on a drive through the Highlands. Later, he demotes Gordonstoun's student leader to the equivalent of buck private--for hesitating an instant before intervening in a dunking. Miner, won over, returned for a year to teach; took charge of The Break, a mid-morning period during which each boy tried--in two of a half-dozen track-and-field events--""to better his previous performance""; and, fired by the success of that Hahnian innovation, and others, resolved ""to help bring some aspect of his work back to the United States."" At Andover, he made his first converts (thanks to the ""magic"" of The Break) and also introduced what was to become an American OB innovation-the ""drownproofing"" techniques of Georgia Tech swimming coach Fred Lamoue. A network of OB adherents was forming, even before an organization existed (the individual profiles are intriguing--until there are just too many of them)--paralleled by a ""web"" of wealthy OB supporters (fascinating, too, in their various interconnections: one was Miner's father-in-law; others bore names like McCloy and Dulles; top contributor was DeWitt Wallace). The Peace Corps, getting wind, insisted on an OB program: ""a prime lesson in the uses of power,"" with some funny celebrity sidelights (like Fred Lamoue ""drownproofing"" a sputtering William Sloane Coffin). Then, with the opening of the first, Colorado OB school, the story starts to turn inward. Miner does, however, take up the big issues--the accidental deaths, OB and inner-city, non-acquiescing kids. There are useful insights, too, for educators--but the book is best read as testimony to the power of an Idea.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1981
Publisher: Morrow