Moving Beyond Innocence: Educating Children in a Post-nature World

  • Helen KopninaEmail author
  • Michael Sitka-Sage
  • Sean Blenkinsop
  • Laura Piersol
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter examines some of the challenges of unlearning anthropocentrism – i.e., the deep-seated cultural, psychological, and enacted prejudices of human specialness – in nature-based early childhood education programs. We begin with a critical exploration of recent trends in environmental philosophy and the conservation sciences that seek to move beyond the so-called archaic notions of “wilderness” and “nature” toward more managerial models of human dominion over planetary “ecosystem services.” We suggest the trouble with these discursive moves is that they shirk from the courageous conversations required from environmental education in a time of ecological emergency. We conclude by drawing on research at nature-based schools in the Netherlands and Canada to illustrate the tenacity of anthropocentric “common sense” and suggest the beginnings of pedagogy of childhoodnatures guided by notions of rewilding and ecological humility.


Rewilding pedagogy Ecocentrism Post-nature Wilderness studies Moves to innocence Anthropocentrism Nature-based elementary schools 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Kopnina
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michael Sitka-Sage
    • 3
  • Sean Blenkinsop
    • 3
  • Laura Piersol
    • 3
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.The Hague University of Applied Science (HHS)HagueThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Amy Cutter-Mackenzie
    • 1
  • Karen Malone
    • 2
  • Marianne Krasny
    • 3
  • Hilary Whitehouse
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Education, Gold Coast CampusSouthern Cross UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Educational ResearchWestern Sydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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