Upplevelser och lärande i äventyrssport och skola
Sammanfattning: The physicality of sports and outdoor life offers great opportunities for intensive experiences – participants ”feel” the happening in their bodies. As well as looking upon physical activity mainly as something instrumental, as for example in competitive sports and exercise culture, other aspects can also be central, for instance the pure joy of movement. The existential or expressive side of physical activity is examined in this doctoral thesis.In order to study such experiential quality more thoroughly, the author’s attention turns to adventure sports participants, as they appear to have a capacity for becoming highly involved and seeking very intense experiences. Who is involved in adventure sports? Why are they engaged in a sport that demands such great hardships and risk-taking? What do they get out of it? The overall objective of the thesis is to shed light on adventure sports as a practice and to discuss the educational significance of flow and other experiential qualities in adventure sports and in schools.The analyses are based on three empirical sub-studies. The first began with a questionnaire that 161 adventure sports participants responded to. This was followed by an interview study of eleven men and three women, all of whom had extensive experience in adventure sports. The categories of sport were evenly divided between climbing, off-piste skiing and hang gliding.In the second sub-study a detailed investigation of climbing was carried out. A notable sportification has brought about a very clear and interesting change in parts of this activity. Six traditional/adventure climbers and six sport climbers were interviewed, of which half were men and half women. All the climbers were experienced and very much involved in their sport.The aim of the third sub-study was to seek an answer as to whether pupils have experiences in their daily school life that are similar to those of adventure sports participants. An ESM (Experience Sampling Method) investigation was carried out with 60 pupils in compulsory school year nine (corresponding to UK schools’ year eleven) from four different schools. The pupils’ parents answered a special parent questionnaire including questions about academic and professional backgrounds, living conditions, habits, interests, attitudes and leisure time activities.The results were analysed taking into consideration the phenomenological perspective and structuralistic or more correctly expressed the cultural sociological perspective. Mihály Csikszentmihályi’s theoretical argument on optimal experiences, which in turn is based on the flow concept, constitutes the phenomenological foundation. Pierre Bourdieu’s concept apparatus and theories were used to closely examine the participants’ backgrounds, life histories and current living situations.The study shows that a preference for adventure sports is clearly linked to the participants’ backgrounds and earlier life experiences. A behavioural pattern is incorporated and developed into an embodied capacity to master a practice, a result of a long learning process. Participants were clearly concordant in these respects. Participants emphasise the abundant opportunities for intensive experiences that arise from adventure sports. It is a matter of something multidimentional: the active body, outdoor life in natural surroundings, exacting and clear goals, total focus, and about exercising control. This approach presents a model for identification of content qualities, which together create the dynamics that form the meaningful rewards that result from participation in adventure sports. The dimensions include flow experiences, but also go beyond them.The deep sense of presence, the physical involvement, the fact that they can choose the path and increase the degree of difficulty themselves – and simultaneously counter this new challenge with increased capacity so that they are engaged at the ”right level” – also provide favourable conditions for a stimulating and successful learning experience.The observation was made that it was primarily in the practical and aesthetic subjects that school pupils had the same deep feeling of presence together with a meaningful and pleasurable holistic experience as the adventure sports participants had. Here they were actively involved with their hands or with their whole bodies, and they could make their own choices and be in control of the activity, which for most pupils led to a strong feeling of satisfaction.
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