Leaping without looking

Year: 1997

Author: Fitzsimmons, Phil

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Nested in a long term study this paper describes the dynamics of personal experience and change which 150 'first time' students experienced while taking part in a Wilderness Program. Employing Guba and Lincoln's (1989) constructivist methodology of 'Fourth Generation Evaluation', which is Riterative, interactive, hermeneutic and at times intuitive and certainly opens to construct a level consensus (Guba and Lincoln, 1989:183), this naturalistic inquiry focussed strongly on observer/observed interactions to construct a 'sophisticated level of consensus' (Guba and Lincoln, 1989:149).

Although recognised as a definitive psychological mechanism of change, the therapeutic results of Wilderness Experiences have been described by Loynes (1997) as being mythic, having a fairy tale content that has been little explored. This paper seeks to give life to these myths, discussing both the

processes which the participants believed engendered personal change and the new personal perspectives that were developed.

The findings of this study have important educational implications in regard to the development of self esteem, relationships and the enhancement of 'life metaphors' (Lakoff and Johnson 1980).