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Aboriginal children's participation and engagement in Bush School

Lee-Hammond, L. and Jackson-Barrett, E. (2013) Aboriginal children's participation and engagement in Bush School. In: Knight, S., (ed.) International Perspectives on Forest School. SAGE Publications Ltd, London, England, pp. 131-145.

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In this chapter we will discuss an outdoor learning project with young Aboriginal children (4-8 years), their teachers and their community in Perth, Western Australia. Due to the location of this project in the Perth region, there are no forests nearby, wild spaces within a short drive from the school are native bush areas and hence we refer to our outdoor learning project as “Bush School” rather than “Forest School”.

The reader will learn how a local community worked together to provide experiences for young children in an outdoor setting that enabled them to learn and experience the outdoors in a culturally appropriate way.

This chapter will provide an important voice in the literature regarding outdoor learning since it specifically works within an Aboriginal community context and emphasises traditional cultural knowledge about relationships with nature and a sense of belonging in the natural world. Teachers in a range of settings could adapt the experiences described in this chapter to local situations. More importantly, teachers involved in this (or other) outdoor learning experiences are provided with the opportunity to learn first- hand about traditional ways of ‘knowing, being and doing’ (Martin, 2005) and this has enormous potential for programming when back in the mortar and brick classroom.

An important feature of this chapter is the incorporation of traditional cultural knowledge and spiritual connection to place that is highly significant for Aboriginal students and the communities to which they belong. The cultural perspectives discussed in this chapter may also be relevant for educators working with other First Nations communities such as the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Asia, Canada and North and South America.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
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