Affordances guiding Forest School practice: the application of the ecological dynamics approach

Abstract

Forest School focuses on child development underlining nature-connection and play pedagogy. Practitioners facilitate child-led learning through a deep observation approach. However, challenges and assumptions exist in such approaches. Additionally, a critical examination of the practice reveals that it may be lacking a solid theoretical underpinning that can respond to diverse contexts and participants while escaping a one-size-fits-all approach encouraged by commercialisation. Ecological Dynamics offers a theoretical framework that has the potential to guide Forest School practice and clarify its effectiveness. Specifically, notions of affordances combined with analysis at the level of person-environment relationships could guide future design and implementation of activities. Benefits could include realising and attuning to affordances which have sociocultural and individual connotations, thereby respecting local cultures and their community resources. The role of the Forest School practitioner becomes one of facilitating diverse populations in their perception of affordances in nature for individualised benefits, including well-being.

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Correspondence to Vinathe Sharma-Brymer.

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Sharma-Brymer, V., Brymer, E., Gray, T. et al. Affordances guiding Forest School practice: the application of the ecological dynamics approach. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education 21, 103–115 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42322-017-0004-3

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Keywords

  • Forest School
  • Ecological dynamics
  • Affordances
  • Person-environment relationships