Walking in the Mindfield

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Thoreau talks of the art of Walking, of people who had a genius for sauntering which word is beautifully derived ‘from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la sainte terre’ — to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, ‘There goes a sainte-terrer’, a saunterer — a holy-lander.’ The alternative to this derivation, suggests Thoreau, comes from sans terre, ‘without land or home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean having no particular home but equally at home everywhere’. I suggest that the idea of walking is a good analogy for the outdoor educator, after all walking is a primary aspect of outdoor education, but, I suggest, not just walking as a journey, but also as a form of crusade, not perhaps a holy crusade but rather a holistic crusade. This paper draws on recent thinking in neurocognitive science, philosophy, linguistics and psychology to propose that there is an urgent need to consider learning in the context of body-mind-environment interactions, to move learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom to reconnect learning with the natural world for a healthier and more sustainable future.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Holistic Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • outdoor education
  • walking
  • holistic learning


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