The July 2021 issue of JOEE features eight papers — six research studies and two book reviews — from international researchers and academics. Featured contributors hail from Norway, Canada, United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. Articles look at Natural Kindergartens in Norway and Bush Kindies in Australia, Outdoor Ed programs for adolescent males, final expeditions and autonomy, and outdoor journeys and environmental stewardship.
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Nature kindergartens: a space for children’s participation
Hilde Alme (pic), Monika Alvestad Reime
The use of the natural environment for educational purposes has become increasingly popular in the Nordic countries, the UK, Australia and in the United States. This article explores how children and staff experience children’s participation through play and everyday life in kindergartens that organise most of the days outside. In Norway this is known as nature kindergartens. Focus group interviews were conducted with 30 children and 20 staff members from six nature kindergartens across Norway. The results show that the open and fluid character of nature creates a dynamic space for children’s play, stimulates creativity and social inclusion, promotes responsibility, and facilitates generational interdependency.
Theoretical and practical, but rarely integrated: Norwegian primary school teachers’ intentions and practices of teaching outside the classroom
Øystein Winje, (pic) Knut Løndal
This study reports on three months of fieldwork covering participatory observations and qualitative interviews of teachers in two Norwegian primary schools practising weekly uteskole [outdoor school]. It concludes that the teachers’ intentions for uteskole are to facilitate first-hand experiences for their pupils. The teachers organise and teach uteskole in two distinct ways: 1) friluftsliv activities [outdoor living activities] and 2) theoretical learning activities.
The authors outline how a transactional epistemology, (philosophy) can support teachers in facilitating transaction between the pupils and the environment outdoors and aid in establishing continuity between learning activities outdoors and indoors.
‘All the things children can see’: understanding children’s noticing in bush kinders
Chris Speldewinde, Anna Kilderry (pic), Coral Campbell
This paper presents data from interviews undertaken with teachers and parents of children who attend Australian bush kindergartens – an adaption of the European and UK forest school approaches. Forest Schools continue to gain momentum as teachers and parents come to understand the benefits associated with this type of outdoor learning environment.
The paper critically explores the learning and development benefits children experience from attending a bush kinder program. Findings reveal that through their noticing, preschool children make a transition from being nature novices to nature experts. The data demonstrate the benefits preschool children can gain from learning and being ‘in’ and ‘with’ nature and the important role adults play recognising young children’s noticing in nature.
Positive masculinity in the outdoors: applying a systems lens to evaluate an adolescent outdoor education program
Rung-Xuan Su, Scott McLean (pic), Ben R. Lane
The aim of this study was to investigate a specific outdoor education program created for adolescent males aimed at developing positive masculinity. eight subject matter experts (SMEs) who participated in online questionnaires, and face to face online or telephone interviews.
The analysis identified multiple components of the program, that were intended to enhance the development of positive masculinity. These include the structured and unstructured activities, the debrief and guided reflections, and Elders night. Recommendations of how the program could be enhanced to focus on mental health challenges in young men from rural community are discussed.
Engaging in autonomous learning in the outdoors: Final expedition and youth autonomy
Dr Yun Chang
Autonomy has been an important trait that marks the transition from childhood to adolescence. This quantitative and qualitative study examines the effectiveness of autonomous learning in a final expedition outdoor program in enhancing youth autonomy in outdoor programs. This study involved 72 participants from two outdoor organizations with results showing that long-term outdoor programs with a final expedition component can be effective in developing participants’ autonomy. Specifically, female students’ autonomy level increased significantly during the final expedition period, and students who played follower roles during the final expedition gained higher levels of autonomy than those who played leader roles. Qualitative findings of this study suggest that the final expedition might afford opportunities for exploring group relationships, demonstrating leadership, and developing a sense of achievement and independence.
Outdoor journeys as a catalyst for enhanced place connectedness and environmental stewardship
Nicholas R. Schwass, Stephanie E. Potter (pic), Tom G. Potter
>With the global shift towards urbanisation, this study investigates the weakening connections between humans and the natural world and the effect that the characteristics and processes of nature-based journeys have on individual perspectives of environmental awareness and stewardship. Using qualitative research methods, nine participants from three Outward Bound Canada expeditions were interviewed to explore how outdoor journeys of at least one week in length influenced their sense of environmental connectivity and/or stewardship.
Results demonstrate a positive association between participants’ exposure to natural environments and an increased sense of connection and stewardship towards nature. Participants experienced a reduced sense of fear in outdoor environments while their comfort levels in natural areas grew. Their values associated with natural areas changed, and for a few, their journeys challenged them to question their current personal and employment situation. Their journeys also augmented naturalistic understanding, increased their sense of connection with their surroundings, nurtured a desire to continue visiting natural areas and, for most, inspired their will to participate in employment or volunteer initiatives to improve the state of the environment.
Research Methods in Outdoor Studies edited by Barbara Humberstone and Heather Prince — REVIEW
Eric Fletcher, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, UK.
Over the last two decades Outdoor Studies has emerged as an innovative and vibrant field of study. This book, which covers qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods, examines key methodologies, themes and technologies such as digital research, mobile methodologies, ethnography, interviews, research design, research ethics and ways of disseminating research.
It features contributions from leading researchers and outdoor practitioners from a range of disciplines: health, sport, education, the environment and sustainability. According to Eric, , this book is a welcome addition to the generic research methods literature for undergraduates, postgraduates, and early career researchers. The structure and presentation of the book ensured the volume was easy to follow and usable. Each chapter is supported with key references signposting further reading, and the index made navigating the content user friendly. The book is set out in five parts guiding the reader through the initial considerations, positioning of the researcher, research design and methodology, researching ethically and opportunities for sharing and disseminating research.
Intergenerational Education for Adolescents towards Liveable Futures by Kathryn Paige, David Lloyd and Richard Smith — REVIEW
In this book, the authors argue that the use of eight eco-justice principles can provide teachers of science and environmental education with a conceptual framework which can assist them to re-imagine education towards a more sustainable and ecologically-just world.
Thus, Intergenerational Education for Adolescents towards Liveable Futures provides a unique and refreshing argument for a new education. Paige et al. (2019) offer this because, “Despite growing scientific consensus about major environmental threats, societies are largely operating on the basis of a ‘business as usual’, at best attempting to tinker at the margins of the problems. This calls for a radically different type of education (p. 64). The authors provide teachers with a set of signposts through which they can re-imagine and re-make curriculum within their various settings using eco-justice principles as a guide. “This would be part of a broader shift toward a liveable earth future , a shift that might successfully dis/position ( education away from the imminent environmental demise that a capitalist driven future almost certainly promises.”
Outdoor Education Australia is a national network of outdoor education associations that facilitates communication about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.
OEA supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and First Nations Australians’ quest for truth telling, a voice and makarrata. We look forward to walking together with First Nations Australians to build a better future.