Exploring the Significant Life Experiences of Childhoodnature
By foregrounding childhoodnature experience and its ongoing influence, Significant Life Experiences (SLE) offers a formative field of research for consideration by childhoodnature researchers. The first part of this chapter summarizes key findings and insights from previous SLE research and, as a contested field, aspects that have been challenged. In the second part, we introduce the nine chapters; here, a collection of contemporary studies interweaves the fields of SLE and childhoodnature through time and space. Together the studies in this section supports previous findings and affords new understandings of how childhoodnature is experienced and how this influences environmental behavior.
In the third part we group the chapter findings into five childhoodnature insights: embodied experience, nature as family, cultural participation, childhoodnature loss, and developing methodologies. The studies reaffirm that SLE in childhoodnature can be a combination of continuous or single experiences, but that self-awareness within experience is significant. Further, SLE are often sociocultural in character involving cultural participation. Authors have also demonstrated the value of exploring the notions of SLE and childhoodnature with educational professionals.
In the final part, we raise issues for future consideration, not least the need for longitudinal research and the advancement of child-framed approaches in these fields. We contend that there is an urgent need for more research in disadvantaged and culturally diverse contexts as a response to the contemporary realities of, and changes to, childhoodnature in the Anthropocene. Importantly, we appeal for a paradigm shift to bring childhoodnature experience into the heart of all education systems.
KeywordsSignificant Life Experiences Childhoodnature Sociocultural perspectives Cultural participation Retrospective research Real-time research Child-framed research
- Barratt Hacking, E., Cutter-Mackenzie, A., & Barrratt, R. (2013). Children as Active Researchers: The potential of environmental education research Involving children. In R. Stevenson, A. Wals, M. Brody, & J. Dillon (Eds.), The handbook of research on environmental education (pp. 438–458). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.Google Scholar
- Barratt, R., Barratt Hacking, E., & Black, P. (2014). Innovative Approaches to Early Childhood Education for Sustainability: Case studies from the field. In J. Davis & S. Elliot (Eds.), Research in early childhood education for sustainability: International perspectives and provocations (pp. 225–247). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Benson, J., & Miller, J. (2008). A pathway to standards. Young Children, 63(4), 22–28.Google Scholar
- Cele, S. (2006). Communicating place: Methods for understanding children’s experience of place. Stockholm: ACTA/Stockholm University.Google Scholar
- Chawla, L. (1998a). Significant life experiences revisited. Environmental Education Research, 29(3), 11–21.Google Scholar
- Clark, A., & Moss, P. (2008). Listening to young children: The mosaic approach. London: National Children’s Bureau.Google Scholar
- Clayton, S. (2003). Environmental identity: A conceptual and operational definition. In S. Clayton & S. Opotow (Eds.), Identity and the Natural Environment: The psychological significance of nature (pp. 45–65). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Cutter-Mackenzie, A. (2009). Children as researchers: Exploring the possibilities and challenges in environmental education. Paper presented at the Fifth World Environmental Education Congress: Earth, Our Common Home.Google Scholar
- Howell, R., & Allen, S. (2016). Significant life experiences, motivations and values of climate change educators. Environmental Education Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2016.1158242
- Ingold, T. (2007). Lines: A brief history. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Macfarlane, R., & Morris, J. (2017). The lost words. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Palmer, J., Suggate, J., Bajd, B., Hart, P., Ho, R., Ofwono-Orecho, J., … Van Staden, C. (1998). An overview of significant influences and formative experiences on the development of adults’ environmental awareness in nine countries. Environmental Education Research, 4(4), 445–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pyle, R. M. (2002). The extinction of experience. In T. F. Dixon (Ed.), City wilds: Essays and stories about urban nature (pp. 257–267). Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
- Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Stevenson, K., Peterson, M., Carrier, S., Strnad, R., Bondell, H., Kirby-Hathaway, T., & Moore, S. (2014). Role of significant life experiences in building environmental knowledge and behavior among middle school students. The Journal of Environmental Education, 45(3), 163–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Thomashow, M. (1996). Ecological identity: Becoming a reflective environmentalist. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Toffler, A. (1970). Future shock. New York, NY: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
- UNICEF. (2016). Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_92710.html