The timing for this project coincides with the Outdoor Leadership Program that I co-teach at an international school in Hokkaido, Japan. I want to find the best practices, information and methods for facilitating an outdoor leadership program and non-cognitive skills with this guide.
Being 42 years old and having been an outdoor educator for nearly 20 years, I feel that I have the experience, understanding and current instructional conditions to practice the information I have gathered in this guide. Twenty years ago, I begin to teach rock climbing and though I did not tie any of the ‘soft skills’ of rock climbing to non-cognitive skills, I knew that being an excellent rock climber is not only the physical accomplishments, but rather the ‘soft’ psychological skills presented in this document.
When teaching rock climbing to elementary school kids in the summer of 1993 I tried to discover the lessons they learned while clinging to the thin edges, hoping not to fall, trying to trust the equipment. Many years later, I learned that their experience was about how much they could use or how much they lacked in non-cognitive skills. Not knowing the proper techniques to teach these skills, I used bland, cliched encouragement. I did no harm, but I wasn’t nearly as effective as I am now in guiding students to understand, practice and then master the skills of: Growth mindset, self-worth, resilience, self-discipline and autonomy during an outdoor activity.
I choose non-cognitive skill set as each trait has separate applications and practices, yet assemble together to create a self-actualized person. Looking back over the years of instruction, reading and practicing, I have found that these specific skills to be valuable, teachable and applicable to young people.
I choose to present the guide as a website for use in my own classroom as well as accessible to other teachers and students. I use many different websites, media sources and videos to teach both the leadership qualities and non-cognitive skills set. I will be able to continuously update this site with current information.