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An Australian perspective of a forest school: Shaping a sense of place to support learning

Cumming, F. and Nash, M. (2015) An Australian perspective of a forest school: Shaping a sense of place to support learning. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 15 (4). pp. 296-309.

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There is growing discussion on the use of local outdoor environments to enhance a person’s sense of belonging. Sense of belonging and sense of place are components that can promote positive learning identities and attachments to community and, in turn, address issues of cycles of disadvantage. This article researched the impact of an interpretation of the forest school approach to learning in a primary school in regional Western Australia. Using a case-study approach, the research aimed to develop understandings of experiences with regard to self-esteem, sense of belonging and engagement and how these factors supported learning. Results indicated that strategies such as those suggested by the forest school approach can promote a sense of self, belonging and relational connections. These in turn can help to develop dimensions of place, identified as place attachment and place meaning. This has implications for future planning by providing greater depth in understanding the impact of the forest school approach to teaching and learning within the context of the single case primary school. It also raises questions as to how place-shaped identity nurtured in this approach to learning can be positively transferred back into the school and classroom setting.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
Copyright: © 2015 Institute for Outdoor Learning
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