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Learn from My Mistakes

Originally appears in the Winter 2010-2011 issue

We all have been bothered by certain things our teachers did (or did not do) when we were students. Perhaps you were the student who, at the end of the line on the nature hike, never had the chance to see what the rest of the students were looking at or learning about. By the time you caught up, the front of the group was moving on to the next place.

This article describes a fun and effective dialectical approach for training educators on how to teach more effectively in outdoor settings. In this approach, the trainer models a poorly taught lesson, works with the students to identify the mistakes made, and provides solutions for correcting those mistakes. If time allows, the trainer also models a high-quality outdoor lesson.  This article should be helpful for formal and non-formal outdoor educators (e.g. park interpreters), and for those who train teachers.

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Brad Daniel is Professor of Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies at Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina. He is co-founder of the Master of Science program in Environmental Education.  A video of Brad performing the skit can be seen at He can be reached at .