Quarterly May 2017

KU PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AND LEARNING Quarterly KU Children’s Services MAY 2017 NATURE PEDAGOGY… BEYOND THE CRAZE BY CLAIRE WARDEN “Few people in the world have given as much thought to nature-based education for young children as Claire Warden. Claire writes as she speaks: with clarity, strength and humour. Her latest book, Learning with Nature – Embedding Outdoor Practice, is a meadow of light.” Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods T his article seeks to provide an insight into Nature Pedagogy (Warden, 2015). Is it just a craze or isolated pedagogical approach, or much more than that? I believe it is a deeply rooted way of being with the natural world, which encompasses what we say, what we do and how we think about the planet. Winston Churchill once said, ‘At first we build our buildings and then the buildings build us.’ In the developed world, we have established a model which believes that education happens inside buildings, and we have set up a series of tools to support and propagate that belief. In order to bring about a paradigm shift in thinking, from learning about or in nature, to learning with nature, we need to create a new range of tools; skills which support learning with nature, so we can create a new concept of ‘buildings’ for education that embraces nature itself. These tools and skills are embedded in the practice of nature pedagogy. In an ideal world, all children would have a wide variety of rich experiences in their childhood, which encompass the freedom, curiosity and harmony of playing and learning with nature. Unfortunately, many children do not experience this and one of the barriers to this is a combination of a lack of value placed on the natural IN THIS ISSUE : world and the limited extent of its integration into play and learning, whether this be inside, outside in play areas or beyond into wilder, untamed nature. When we look around the world, we can see a wide variety of models of education, which have emerged from melting pots of culture, climate, community and often curricula. The uniqueness of these approaches or models is their very joy and is at the heart of their effect on children and families. We are not all the same, so having one model which is perceived as being superior to others suggests that there is a hierarchy of effectiveness or quality, and this is clearly not the case. Nature pedagogy is actually the meshwork (Ingold, 2011) that underpins many models of nature-based practice and which links their values and principles. Many of these models are the manifestation of the pedagogical beliefs which emerge from the underlying meshwork, each culturally unique, but also shaped and affected by a whole range of other factors. These educational models have become grouped together and known by many different names: beach kindy, bush kindy, nature groups, forest schools, outdoor play, barnehage, the list goes on. There are many things that limit our relationship with the natural world. If, as adults, we are going to make a real difference for children and families, we need to recognise our place in the natural world and our connection to it. We must not overly subdivide nature, but embrace it in its entirety through nature pedagogy, as a way of being with nature, wherever you are with children. NATURE PLAY PEDAGOGY AT KU WOMBARRA PRESCHOOL