I’ll be looking at both formal and informal learning, emphasising that it should be fun if true, deep, learning is to take place, rather than the more frequent shallow learning.



  • How do we learn?
  • What is a good approach to learning for  workers who undertake most of their work  outdoors?
  • Can learning be made more fun, yet at the same time ensure genuine learning takes place?

I believe that considered reflection of what has been undertaken or  observed is a really important part of the learning process. What I mean  by ‘considered reflection’ is that time (it doesn’t have to be a long  period of time) is put aside, or taken out of a normal schedule, to reflect in a thoughtful way on what was learnt from an activity or  observation; What was the key aspect of the learning? Have any areas for  improvement been identified? What might be considered the next step in  the learning process?

This leads onto life-long learning. Life, society and technology change  at a seemingly ever increasing pace. Technology is impacting on the way  we live and work – artificial intelligence and robots are the current  trends and we all need to be aware of how these trends might impact on  our home and work life.

Engaging with the process of life-long learning is one way staying up to  date and not feeling left behind. I don’t think this should be forced on  anyone but should be seen as a process which is enjoyable and is seen as  a ‘I want to keep learning’. Additional benefits of keeping an active mind, I am sure, contribute to improving ones health and well-being.  Part of the problem of engaging people into a process of life-long  learning is the challenge of making sure the learning activity is  actually engaging enough to keep peoples attention span and to enthuse them into wanting to find out more.

With the pervasiveness of social media the ability to encourage  collaboration in learning should not appear to be an unrealistic  expectation for workers in the outdoor industries. With there being so  much knowledge ‘out there’, having the ability to tap into it and focus  it to support learning activities should certainly be one of the aims of  collaborative learning. No one person can really ‘know it all’, even  though a few people might think otherwise.

Collaborative learning can be used as a way to create an active ‘web of  learning’ or a ‘community of learning’. This would be a really positive  approach and contribution to making everyone who is interested feel part  of a dynamic ‘movement’ (I don’t want this to be confused with a  political or social action movement)

The final part of learning that I want to explore is that of  self-determined learning, called heutagogy. This essentially puts the  learner in charge of their learning; they are the owner and driver for  their learning. I believe this approach could be one which can be used  to better engage learners within the grounds care industry.

Heutagogy  looks at developing capability, which is the next step on from  competence. Competence forms the cornerstone of vocational training yet  is often seen as the ‘end point’, when what needs to happen is for learners to use this as a staging post for developing their knowledge  and skills that much further – developing their capabilities to respond to the many different situations which can arise from an outdoor  occupation.

So, here again we have an interconnection of technology, groundsmanship and learning.

Chris Gray