Why can’t we call it Magic?

Why can’t we call it Magic?  Why does it have to be scientifically proven, or based on a belief structure.  Why can’t the magic of nature be just that?

Why am I on this journey of a Masters to prove the magic of nature,

Jamie Black at Royal Roads University

and how it alters lives?  With over 13 years of experience in the field, I have developed a skill of storytelling that captivates people because of these stories… And yet, now I am challenging myself to research this, use a process that leads to an increase of understanding for me and you maybe?

I am working on a grant right now, and here is my story… do you think it is worth Mastering?

“Who wants to go Canoeing?”


This is my intro to my Grant Application due in a week… what do you think? If you had the money, would you fund this research?

The breeze off the water gives me a chill of excitement as I launch my canoe for another beginner, two hour lesson on the lake.  I have been running the same program off and on at Horne Lake Regional Park for over 4 years, and it is still my favorite program of all.  There are usually 14 children and 1 teacher.  I give them an introduction, and show them how to launch the boat off the shore without scratching on the bottom.  It always makes me smile when I say, “Turn around and sit down before you fall in,” because the usual response is a nervous laughter, which indicates the fear of tipping the boat over.

After a short introduction to the paddle strokes, and a talk with the teacher about leadership, I send the teacher in the lead following the shoreline, so that I can sweep, and teach the children at the back who are having a hard time steering. Once we arrive at the sweet spot, I say “Who wants to play a game?” And almost every time, they all yell “ME!” So I set up the goal, and pull out the soccer ball.  The interesting thing with this game is that the players do not need to know a word of English and I still end up with the same results.  The basic rules for the two team game are as follows: each person on the team must touch the ball before going for the goal; if a participant has the ball she cannot paddle; and the ball can only be in the boat for 5 seconds before it is passed, or else it’s the other team’s ball.  The most important rule of all is that participants can commit any act of canoe piracy, while keeping at least one limb in their boat at all times. This is  best demonstrated  by tossing the ball into the other team’s boat,  climbing into it while keeping one leg in your own boat, and rocking it, which creates that nervous laughter again.  Then I throw the ball and the game is on.

It is amazing to watch the children’s transform their perception from “fear of falling into the water” to playing and enjoying a competitive game.  They push their boundaries, do paddle strokes that they have never done before, and then, almost every time, someone capsizes their boat.  The best part is when the teacher capsizes their boat. Children look to their fearless leader for cues of how far to push their boundaries.  If the teacher is afraid of falling in, the children won’t truly play the game, and therefore that teacher may or may not provide a positive role model to the children.  If a  teacher capsizes the canoe and comes up smiling and he  realizes that he has faced his fear and merely got wet. This behaviour provides a  model for  children and demonstrates that they too can stretch their limits, overcome their fears and have a transformative learning experience.

When children participate in high-risk outdoor experiences they change their belief system about themselves.  A frightened child who participates in Epic Canoe Soccer for the first time must face her fears and play the game, get wet and push herself.  After the first, second and third capsize is either observed, or experienced, she gains a sense of self-control and autonomy.  This capacity allows the child to direct her life in new ways and she becomes open to further challenges, opportunities and experiences.

By using an auto-ethnographical approach as a mode of representation, this research will compare the author’s personal perspective as an experienced outdoor leader along with the perspectives of experienced outdoor educators (or teachers), and “non-outdoor” educators.  It will be expected this research will create a journey of group and self-discovery and provide a juicy wealth of material to qualify and support the cause of getting more educators to take children outdoors.

There has been research done in this field by various authors, and yet there is still more support required to influence the education system, and provide data to support current Canadian research could generate a greater understanding of this need for change.  This research is qualitative research that explains the  reasons why non-outdoor educators do not take children outdoors

The arts in inquiry allow us to access the crevices of our souls and bring the fullness of our humanity to the process of being, living, knowing and teaching… thinking on our feet.” (Carcienne, Bagley 2002)


Currently I am taking a course by Pille Bunnell at Royal Roads University.  504 EECO Systems class.  When I saw the outline of this course, I was intimidated that an artsy fartsy dramatic person like me could relate to systems… but I think this is my learning.  I really enjoy that she is teaching a heightened level of awareness, which sure is a topic that is leading to my own life path right now.

I choose to wander off the path of to explore what I don’t know about this education system before I make any claim as to how we need teachers to take children outdoors. Coming to understand something, I must follow a process of exploration.  My curiosity is, how did it come to be that teachers are not comfortable with taking children out into nature.

Bunnell brings up Generative Domains in her video, 


For me, I have not spent very much time focusing on the systems and processes of nature.  The eco-system, and the environment, but I have focused on people and their interaction with nature.  I am interested in human culture as it has evolved as a generative landscape of ideas.  Something that seems very intangible, and hard to produce qualitative data, and yet, I feel that there is a need to dig deeper to understand this culture.

I intend on coming to understand the position of non-outdoor educators by participating in the dynamic of manipulating ideas.  This on-going generative process, by letting go of what I already know in order to participate in this process that leads to a deeper understanding (Bunnell, P 2013)

I wonder if the education system is “Spontaneously Organized?” Like a whirl pool.  Where process and concepts form and disappear, and interacts with the structural coherence.  Bunnell’s website is such a great title “Ecology of Humanness as a Matrix of Ideas.”

The study of humanness intrigues me.  A matrix of ideas, I love it!  Nervous Systems, Living Systems, Formalism, Reality, Evolution,  Reality, Conversation, Learning, Distinction & Domains, Culture, Languaging, Emotioning, Intangible, Human Origins.

So many things to learn, so little time.

Things Spontaneously Organize themselves according to circumstances, and what is incorporated based on it’s environment, teachers, parents, weather, natural environment, building structures, budget, risk mitigation etc.  The system may provide it’s own whirl pool as a structure that works for that sort of people, but based on my experience, the simple politics of the players in the game, their opinions, and persuasive messaging have the power to persuade that whirl pool and either end it, move it or make it bigger.  This is why I am so intrigued by the power of the human whether it is “What you say, or how you say it, or whether or not you need say ‘it’ at all” will effect a whole culture of being. (Bunnell, P. 2013)

Bunnell, P. (website viewed Nov. 22, 2013) Ecology of Humanness as a Matrix of Ideas. http://www.sympoetic.net/Ecology_of_Humanness/Map.html

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