John Stevenson

John Stevenson

My name is John and I am based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Before I went to University I served in the armed forces. When I left, I trained and worked as a professional outdoor instructor at various centres and activity providers which taught me a lot about the industry and gave me a good base of practical experience. Consequently, I then became more interested in the theoretical side of outdoor education so decided to pursue higher education despite not doing any studying since secondary school! This resulted in me doing a BA in Outdoor Activity Leadership and Coaching at the University of Derby in Buxton. I enjoyed this course and was pleased to get a First and be awarded best outdoor student.

These achievements gave me the confidence to carry on studying at postgraduate level so a Masters seemed like the next logical step. I chose to do the MA in Outdoor Education at UWTSD as a few of my undergraduate tutors had previously done it and said it was a good course. I also chose it because it offered the blended learning option. This allowed me to work independently and not have to relocate. The latter was important as I regularly coach climbing in Sheffield and often instruct in the nearby Peak District so did not want to give this work up.

For me, the course has opened my eyes to the potential of outdoor education and consistently made me challenge my own thinking and ideas on the area. I have found that not only am I reading just the key outdoor texts but am often looking at other diverse subjects such as philosophy, sociology and psychology to name a few which keeps it interesting and informative. This shows how well the modules have been structured which I think is important and appropriate when you consider the complex multidisciplinary nature of outdoor education today. This has meant I am constantly reflecting on and adapting my professional practice to try and change it for the better. One fundamental and significant way in which the course has changed me is that I now consider myself an outdoor educator rather than an outdoor instructor.

In the future, I would like to gain more professional experience and implement what I have learnt from my studies so far into actual practice as this is often where the greatest challenge lies. There are also several national governing body awards I am working towards that I would like to finish. During the course, I have also become more interested in research so am considering doing a PhD at some point. I strongly believe in the greater potential of outdoor education and the exciting benefits it may offer individuals, society and the environment. I would love to be the person whose job is to realise and evidence that potential.

However, I think the first thing I will do when I leave UWTSD is go on a peaceful holiday in the mountains somewhere away from my laptop!