As a life-long and award winning experiential educator, James Raffan is a powerful advocate for risk as a central driver of effective education. Using the distinction between public knowledge and personal knowledge, in this engaging keynote—originally prepared for the annual conference of the Association of Heads of Independent School of Australia—James argues that there is nothing more important in education than enabling students in the creation of their own stories or personal knowledge, the knowledge that drives action.
“Dr. James Raffan thoroughly engaged delegates at the Biennial conference of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia in October 2011. His topical keynote address entitled “Education as Story: The Power of Narrative”, developed the central theme of the conference, Culture 2 Culture, through providing insightful examples of how the characters of young people are developed by placing them in situations that challenge their comfortable world view. In many cases this does not occur within a traditional, formal educational setting but instead it is most successful in those environments that involve some risk and where the young people have to delve deeply into their inner resources. Dr Raffan’s extensive experiences in leading wilderness canoeing expeditions in the interior of Canada, combined with his academic intellect provided a perfect platform for Heads to contemplate the importance of using these experiences to develop the personal narrative of students’ lives whilst simultaneously contributing to the culture of a school. “
(Lester Saegenschnitter, Principal, Concordia College, Adelaide, South Australia)