by Tyler Yearby, M.Ed.

Do you play outside, or pick a landscape and explore it? 

If you don’t, you should! Everyone needs to get outside more. Actively expressing yourself isn’t just for kids. The individual-environment relationship is extraordinary, and we encourage you to explore the ongoing relationship in settings outside of traditional sports. 

So what does this mean for you as an active learner? It means you should search for ways to move through your environment with the intention of actively exploring or discovering it. Think of it as expanding the ever-changing relationship between you and the world around you, or as Adolph and Hoch (2019) described as “learning to learn to move.” Viewing learning as an ongoing and ever-changing process promotes a sense of adaptive behavior where people find a functional fit to the movement problems they face in life. 

It’s important to mention the search process is unique to you, where your intrinsic dynamics (tendencies of perceiving and acting) serve as the starting point when you set out on an adventure to discover what the world invites you to do. Skill acquisition is a non-stationary process (Pacheco, Lafe, & Newell, 2019); thus an adaptive endeavor. 

Here is a short-list of ways we might explore our environment:

Hike, bike, run, swim, throw a frisbee, skip, tumble, gallop, crawl, traverse the monkey bars, jump off logs, stumps, or rocks, climb a tree or swing on its branches, ride or play with your horse, etc. The list goes on and on. 

Several of the activities listed above might be something you already do. If they are, try changing something. Here are a few ways how you might be able to approach the activities a little differently. 

  • Change the location.
  • Change the time of the day.
  • Change the speed you hike, bike, run, swim, etc.
  • Change the timing with relation to the weather during your engagement with these activities (e.g., hike after it has rained).
  • Change the amount of weight you are carrying during a hike, run, or bike.
  • Engage in activities with different people. 
  • Try searching for objects that afford you the ability to jump off them or swing from them.

As you move through a landscape, search for ways you can interact with your surroundings! Woods et al., 2020 describe this idea as wayfinding, which is viewed as “a purposeful, intentional and self-regulated movement that takes an individual from one region in a landscape to another.” A wayfinder is a learner who is actively seeking information and the specifying affordances to see what the environment invites them to do!

  1. Adolph, K.E., and Hoch, J.E. (2019). Motor Development: Embodied, Embedded, Enculturated, and Enabling. Annual Review of Psychology 70:1, 141-164.
  2. Pacheco M., Lafe C., Newell, K. (2019). Search Strategies in the Perceptual-Motor Workspace and the Acquisition of Coordination, Control, and Skill. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 1874. DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01874
  3. Woods, C.T., Rudd, J., Robertson, S., & Davids, K. (2020). Wayfinding: How Ecological Perspectives of Navigating Dynamic Environments Can Enrich Our Understanding of the Learner and the Learning Process in Sport. Sports Med – Open 6, 51.