18 SES 04 JS, Outdoor Activity, Health Promotion and Learning
Joint Paper Session NW 08 and NW 18
In contemporary Sweden outdoor education is seen as a natural and important part of Swedish school. Outdoor education has a long history, connected to peoples statuary right of public access to nature and hegemonic ideas about sustainability in society. Within Swedish School outdoor education resonates all the way back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau eighteenth century natural romance and to the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné. Over time, outdoor education, together with movements, health and lifestyle, have come to constitute the cornerstones that form the main knowledge contents in physical education. As such the recreational values for the individual as well as Swedish society in general has been enrolled in the governing policy documents guiding the contents and practice of Swedish school and the forming of new generations (Skolverket, 2011).
This study directs it attention to outdoor education, critically pursuing questions regarding what students actually learn in and through outdoor education. In spite of a long history in Swedish society research on what kind of knowledge and learning outdoor education brings and is supposed to give students is scarce. As it have been shown in previous research that physical education teachers sometimes have a hard time motivating both themselves, students, the school management and parents why outdoor education should be part of the curriculum, there is a need to further investigate students learning processes in outdoor education.
The purpose with the study is to analyse learning processes in outdoor education. Basically I am interested in what kind of knowledge that is acquired and the processes through which this knowledge is socially and culturally negotiated and later also embodied in different ways. The study is guided by the following research questions.
- How is knowledge acquired in outdoor education and how does the knowledge affect student’s way of understanding the social, cultural and natural context of outdoor education?
- What embodied experiences occur through outdoor education, and in what ways can these experiences be understood in terms of embodied learning processes?
Basically the study departs from a constructionist approach to knowledge (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). This means that that specific subject positions are seen as something being created through bodily practices and interactions. Physical skills and physical knowledge is in this context not to be considered as something that easily can be transferred from one entity to another, such as from a teacher to a student. Rather acquisition of knowledge and the learning of different skills, through for example movements in and experiences of nature are seen as inter-subjective. Put differently; knowledge and competence is created/learned through action and communicative encounters between individuals (Schiro 2008:160). The sense of who you are and what you are able to do can thus be understood as intimately interwoven with bodily/embodied experiences. When people do/perform, they learn. They acquire experience in relation to their surroundings and through these also an understanding of themselves. How bodies are used, interpreted and what we do with them, is in other words, also a question of how learning processes are intertwined with identity constructions (Biesta 2006:42).
Berger, P. L. and Luckmann, T. 1966. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. Biesta, G. 2006: Beyond Learning: Democratic Education for a Human Future. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklassen och fritidshemmet 2011. (2011). Stockholm: Skolverket. Tillgänglig på Internet: http://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=2575 Schiro, M. 2008. Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns. Los Angeles: SAGE.
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