Jack completed an MSc in Outdoor Education at the University of Edinburgh in January 2020. He began a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in October 2020 researching the influence of mobile devices and social media on the transfer of learning in residential outdoor experiences.
Jack Reed was awarded a judges commendation for the 2021 Masters Dissertation Award for his dissertation “Wading in the Dark: Exploring the Place, Use and Impact of Fear within Outdoor Adventurous Education”
The place of fear in outdoor adventurous education (OAE) has long been recognised as a foundational component in the framing of valuable and transformational experiences for participants. Despite these claims, limited research was evident on both the facilitation of fear in practice, and the impact of fear on participants. This study examines the interrelationship between facilitator perspectives and approaches on fear and whether they influence the developmental potential for participants in OAE. A multiple-case study approach was employed, which incorporated interviews with four OAE facilitators in Scotland and an observation of a caving activity delivered by two facilitators to eleven young people in England. Data collected from this cross section of voices was evaluated and analysed through social, cultural and neurological lenses; the latter of which has scarcely been applied to the field of OAE. The findings demonstrate a distinct and complex tension between the intentional facilitation of fear and the diverse impact fear can have for participants. Three primary outcomes emerged: first, the historically situated assumptions of a fear for all approach have been challenged; second, fear was recognised to illegitimate those participants unable to successfully interact with fear; and third, applying neuroscience to interpret data highlighted polarising neurological outcomes for participants when experiencing fear. By opening a critical and progressive dialogue, this study seeks to initiate further discussion and research to fully interrogate the place, use and impact of fear in OAE.