Becoming a Socio-ecological Educator

  • Justen O’ConnorEmail author
  • Ruth Jeanes
  • Laura Alfrey
  • Brian Wattchow


Acknowledging the multi-layered nature of a socio-ecological frame, this chapter highlights explicitly how to develop socio-ecological understandings and practices in educational contexts. We begin by providing a series of vignettes based on practice. These vignettes serve to disturb assumptions that researchers and practitioners bring to physical, health, environmental or outdoor education and, in doing so, open a reflective door for research on practice. The foundational concepts introduced in Chap. 2: (a) lived experience, (b) place, (c) experiential pedagogies and (d) agency and participation, are discussed in relation to these vignettes to continue to develop them more fully, particularly how they might work in concert rather than as separate entities. We have argued that a socio-ecological approach provides a mechanism through which educators and researchers can acknowledge the relationships between the personal, social and environmental layers of social ecologies and these are explored further in the following vignettes.


Socio-ecological education Teaching praxis Contestation Reconceptualising education 


  1. Alfrey, L., L. Webb, and L. Cale. 2012. Physical education teachers’ continuing professional development in health-related exercise: A figurational analysis. European Physical Education Review 18(3): 361–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alsop, R., M. Bertelsen, and J. Holland. 2006. Empowerment in practice: From analysis to implementation. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  3. Arendt, H. 1978. The life of the mind. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  4. Barnes, D. 1992. The significance of teachers’ frames for teaching. In Teachers and teaching – From classroom to reflection, ed. T. Russell and H. Munby, 9–32. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bell, M. 1993. What constitutes experience? Rethinking theoretical assumptions. Journal of Experiential Education 16(1): 19–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berry, W. 1987. Home economics. San Francisco: North Point Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brooker, R., and D. Macdonald. 1999. Did we hear you? Issues of student voice in a curriculum innovation. Journal of Curriculum Studies 31(1): 83–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cook-Sather, A. 2002. Authorising students’ perspectives: Towards trust, dialogue and change in education. Educational Researcher 31(4): 4–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dewey, J. 1938. Experience and education. New York: Collier Books.Google Scholar
  10. Fielding, M. 2001. Students as radical agents of change. Journal of Educational Change 2(2): 123–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Foucault, M. 1975. Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  12. Freire, P. 1970. Pedagogy of the oppressed. Boulder: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  13. Gard, M. 2008. Producing little decision makers. Quest 60: 488–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gardner, H. 1983. Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Gruenewald, D. 2003a. Foundations of place: A multidisciplinary framework for place-conscious education. American Educational Research Journal 40(3): 619–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gruenewald, D. 2003b. The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher 32(4): 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gruenewald, D., and G. Smith. 2008. Place-based education in the global age. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  18. Jardine, D. 1998. To dwell with a boundless heart: Essays in curriculum theory, hermeneutics, and the ecological imagination. New York: Peter Lang Publishers.Google Scholar
  19. Joplin, L. 1981. On defining experiential education. Journal of Experiential Education 4(1): 17–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Knapp, C. 1992. Lasting lessons: A teacher’s guide to reflecting on experience. Charleston: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools.Google Scholar
  21. Loughran, J. 2006. Developing a pedagogy of teacher education: Understanding teaching and learning about teaching. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Mandel, L.A., and J. Qazilbash. 2005. Youth voices as change agents: Moving beyond the medical model in school-based health center practice. Journal of School Health 75: 239–242.Google Scholar
  23. Mitra, D. 2008. Balancing power in communities of practice: An examination of increasing student voice through school based youth adult partnerships. Journal of Educational Change 9: 221–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Narayan, D. 2005. Measuring empowerment: Cross disciplinary perspectives. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  25. O’Connor, J., L. Alfrey, and P. Payne. 2012. Beyond games and sports: A socio-ecological approach to physical education. Sport Education and Society 17(3): 365–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Penney, D., and T. Chandler. 2000. Physical education: What future(s)? Sport Education and Society 5(1): 71–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Penney, D., and J. Evans. 1997. Naming the game: Discourse and domination in physical education and sport in England and Wales. European Physical Education Review 3(1): 21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Penney, D., and M. Jess. 2004. Physical education and physically active lives: A lifelong approach to curriculum development. Sport, Education and Society 9(2): 269–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Penney, D., and Lisa Hunter. 2006. (Dis)abling the (health and) physical in education: Ability, curriculum and pedagogy. Sport, Education and Society 11(3): 205–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Relph, E. 1976. Place and placelessness. London: Pion Limited.Google Scholar
  31. Robinson, K. 2008. RSAnimate: Changing education paradigms. Presented at RSA, 8 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6EZ.Google Scholar
  32. Rossi, A.J. 2006. An educational rationale for movement in education. In Teaching Health and Physical Education in Australian Schools, ed. R. Tinning, L. McCuaig, and Lisa Hunter, 9–16. French Forest: Pearson Education Australia.Google Scholar
  33. Schon, D. 1983. The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. USA: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  34. Sinclair, R. 2004. Participation in practice: Making it meaningful, effective and sustainable. Children and Society 18(2): 106–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sloan, K. 2006. Teacher identity and agency in school worlds: Beyond the all good/all bad discourse on accountability explicit curriculum policies. Curriculum Enquiry 36(2): 119–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Slot, S. 2008. What’s the buzz about? The meaning of empowerment and participation. Unpublished Masters thesis completed at University of Twente, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, G. 2002. Place-based education: Learning where we are. Phi Delta Kappan 83: 584–594.Google Scholar
  38. Thomas, N. 2007. Towards a theory of children’s participation. International Journal of Children’s Rights 15: 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Thomashow, M. 1996. Ecological identity: Becoming a reflective environmentalist. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  40. Tinning, R. 1997. Reinventing physical education and health in schools: Lessons from trainspotting and Deepak Chopra. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand 30(4): 17–19.Google Scholar
  41. Tinning, R. 2004. Rethinking the preparation of HPE teachers: Ruminations on knowledge, identity and ways of thinking. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education 32(3): 241–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wattchow, B., and M. Brown. 2011. A pedagogy of place: Outdoor education for a changing world. Victoria: Monash University Publishing.Google Scholar
  43. Wattchow, B., and J.P. O’Connor. 2003. re(Forming) the ‘Physical’ in a curriculum / pedagogy for health and well-being: a socio-ecological perspective. Paper presented at the NZARE/AARE, Auckland New Zealand.Google Scholar
  44. West, A. 2004. Children and participation: Meaning, motives and purpose. In Having their say: Young people and participation: European experiences, ed. D. Crimmens and A. West. Lyme Regis: Russell House.Google Scholar
  45. Woods, P., and B. Jeffrey. 1996. Teachable moments: The art of creative teaching in primary schools. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Yonezawa, S., M. Jones, and F. Joselowsky. 2009. Youth engagement in high schools: Developing a multidimensional, critical approach to improving engagement for all students. Journal of Educational Change 10: 191–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Young, I.M. 2000. Inclusion and democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justen O’Connor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ruth Jeanes
    • 1
  • Laura Alfrey
    • 1
  • Brian Wattchow
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityFrankstonAustralia

Personalised recommendations