‘I saw a magical garden with flowers that people could not damage!’: children’s visions of nature and of learning about nature in and out of school
- New EER Article Alert
Clementina Rios & Isabel Menezes
Pages: 1-12 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2017.1325450
This paper involves groups of children (aged 5–10) in discussing what nature is in their urban communities and how they learn about it. Children attend four urban and semi-urban Portuguese schools with different environmental pedagogies: Waldorf, forest school and eco-school. Previous studies of children’s conceptions of nature have mainly addressed environmental understanding as an individual dimension, even if acknowledging the situated nature of children’s knowledge and experience. In this study we draw on previous research, using focus groups as participatory methods that allow children to interact with their peers while expressing their visions and feelings about a topic. Group discussions show that children have a strong emotional connection with nature that generates a strongly protective disposition. Daily experiences in schools, families, and local communities but also the media reinforce this concern, and make children aware of a series of environmental problems, for which they either refer to existing rules or imagine creative solutions. On the whole, this research shows that children have a say in these matters and should therefore be involved in environmental debates and action – but also that a political ecology perspective seems to be absent from their school learning experiences.
Keywords: Children, citizenship, nature, environmental education, pedagogies