23 SES 04 A, Policy Reforms and the Regulation of Teachers’ Work
The study, which is a part of a doctoral thesis in pedagogy, focuses on outdoor education in preschool settings. In Sweden the concept of the outdoors is widely accepted and rarely problematized. Especially children are expected to take benefit from being outside as much as possible, all seasons of the year and sometimes all day, since they are considered as naturally connected to nature in general. The importance of being outside is emphasized in current teacher´s education, curriculum for preschool and in policy published by governmental agencies. It has both historical, cultural and institutional anchoring in Swedish society and is represented by a wide range of NGOs. The concept is also successful in export to countries as Japan, Korea, and Iceland, just to mention a few. Institutional outdoor education typically manifests itself as outdoor preschool, i.e. for children aged from one to five.
The historical notion of outdoor pedagogy can be said to originate from two, partly different, lines of development, which are The Anglo-Saxon and the Nordic approach. They have emerged into a mutual expression, bur are both still traceable in current discourse.
The aim of the study is to analyze how historically embedded notions and arguments are used in combination with the current expectations and goals expressed in outdoor policy. I link that to which imagined children and future citizens are constructed in two educational texts published fourteen years apart. The arguments used in texts on outdoor pedagogy remains, at the surface, in the same semantic body but with content that is changing over time. These are similar in the two clear themes of discourse in this research and in the two texts, which are referred to as the “friluftsdiskurs” and the "learning discourse". According to the historical frame, these can be related to the partly different origins of thoughts and aims related to outdoor education – the Nordic and the Anglo-Saxon.
The movement towards a stronger governing of preschool activities during the period between 1997 and 2012 can be noticed. As a result, the natural child is constructed very differently in the two texts, as well as nature, the outdoors and the preschool teachers’ presences and roles in the setting. I here discuss the notion of socienatalization the preschool child.
As these constructions are connected to nature´s impact on children’s learning and development it also implies constructions of nature.
Hence, the research questions are: Which children are constructed in the texts on outdoor preschool and which discourses can organize the constructive formation of how child and nature are connected?
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