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“You can't be an atheist here”: Christianity and Outward Bound in Britain, c.1941–1965

“You can't be an atheist here”: Christianity and Outward Bound in Britain, c.1941–1965 The purpose of this study is to explore the role of formal religion in the early years of Outward Bound, a significant outdoor education organisation in Britain, from the 1940s to the 1960s.Design/methodology/approachThis article is based on archival and other documentary research in various archives and libraries, mostly in the United Kingdom.FindingsThe article shows that religious “instruction” was a central feature of the outdoor education that Outward Bound provided. The nature and extent of this aspect of the training was a matter of considerable debate within the Outward Bound Trust and was influenced by older traditions of muscular Christianity as well as the specific context of the early post–Second World War period. However, the religious influences at the schools were marginalised by the 1960s; although formal Christian observances did not disappear, the emphasis shifted to the promotion of a vaguer spirituality associated with the idea that “the mountains speak for themselves”.Originality/valueThe article establishes the importance of organised Christianity and formal religious observances in the early years of Outward Bound, a feature which has generally been overlooked in the historical literature. It contributes to wider analyses of outdoor education, religious education and secularisation in the mid-twentieth century. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Education Review Emerald Publishing

“You can't be an atheist here”: Christianity and Outward Bound in Britain, c.1941–1965

History of Education Review , Volume 49 (1): 18 – Jun 30, 2020

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0819-8691
DOI
10.1108/her-04-2019-0011
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the role of formal religion in the early years of Outward Bound, a significant outdoor education organisation in Britain, from the 1940s to the 1960s.Design/methodology/approachThis article is based on archival and other documentary research in various archives and libraries, mostly in the United Kingdom.FindingsThe article shows that religious “instruction” was a central feature of the outdoor education that Outward Bound provided. The nature and extent of this aspect of the training was a matter of considerable debate within the Outward Bound Trust and was influenced by older traditions of muscular Christianity as well as the specific context of the early post–Second World War period. However, the religious influences at the schools were marginalised by the 1960s; although formal Christian observances did not disappear, the emphasis shifted to the promotion of a vaguer spirituality associated with the idea that “the mountains speak for themselves”.Originality/valueThe article establishes the importance of organised Christianity and formal religious observances in the early years of Outward Bound, a feature which has generally been overlooked in the historical literature. It contributes to wider analyses of outdoor education, religious education and secularisation in the mid-twentieth century.

Journal

History of Education ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 30, 2020

Keywords: Outward Bound; Kurt Hahn; Christianity; Outdoor education; Character

References