ERG SES D 11, Innovative Intercultural Learning in Education
Early childhood is a critical period in which children construct their perceptions of various things. That is the reason why, pioneer theorists such as Piaget (1971) and Vygotsky (1978) suggested that children should be provided various kinds of materials in order to construct their knowledge of the world. Although kids today have stimulating home and school environments, their access to dynamic outdoor environment have decreased due to urbanization, increase in working parents, and technology use at home (Clement, 2004; Rivkin, 1997; O’brien & Murrey, 2007; Thigpen, 2007; Valentine & McKendrick, 1997). Thus, children have started to perceive nature as an abstract concept rather than its realistic conditions. To illustrate, the studies conducted to investigate children’s forest perception found that children perceived the forest as a place living only wild animals such as lions, bears, and wolves (Yalçın &Erden, 2017; Tuncay & Alan, 2018). The researchers (Yalçın & Erden, 2017; Tuncay & Alan, 2018) also found that children’s perceptions about forest had changed after the implementation forest school sessions in woodlands. By comparing pre- and post-drawing and interviews of children, the researchers (Tuncay & Alan, 2018) stated that children developed new concepts about the living beings of forest such as snails, snakes, ants, mushrooms etc. Similarly, Yalçın and Erden (2017) found that post-drawings of children involved animals including bird, hedgehog, snail, spider, lady bug, mole, worm, butterfly, and rabbit. However, they (2017) also found that post-drawings included some unusual animals such as gorillas and dinosaurs. Moreover, Tuncay and Alan (2018) stated that children mostly focused on animals rather than plant species. Researchers (Cengizoğlu, 2013; Keliher, 2007), who investigated young children’s forest perceptions, identified those stereotypical animals as a “learned response”. In other words, secondary sources such as books, cartoons, and/or movies direct young children to learn certain things in certain ways. In this respect, Keller (2012) believed that young children today face with extraordinary arrays of symbolic images of nature. Keller emphasized the issue of balance between direct, indirect, and vicarious experiences with nature for child development. According to Keller, not only direct experiences but also symbolic experiences with nature are significant for children’s development and learning. At that point, what kinds of secondary sources of information about forests or symbolic experiences with nature are presented for children comes into question. It is a matter of interest whether the symbolic experience in the secondary sources are relistic or highly metaphorical. Under the guidence of related literature, this study aimed to investigate the story books for early childhood term in terms of their represenations and descriptions about forest.
Method The purpose of this study is to examine illustrated story books for 3-6 years old children in terms of the description of forest in the text and visuals. The population will be illustrated story books written by Turkish and foreign authors which were published between the years 1999 and 2019. To this end, storybooks belonging to both domestic and foreign publishing house will be listed. The sampling will consist of story books including the fiction in the forest and mentioning the word of “forest” in the text. Content analysis method will be utilized in the process of analysing the documents. Story books will be examined according to pre-determined categories such as the species of animals and plants, the similarity between real forest and the metaphoric expression of forest, the consistency between texts and illustrations. Results will be presented as a descriptive way using frequency tables.
Result It is expected to be found that most dominant figures in animal species will be the wild animals such as elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, zebras, and gorillas. In addition, it is expected to be found the main characters will frequently be animals rather than plants and the illustrated species of plants will predominantly be seen as trees and grass. Moreover, the plot or fiction in story will mostly be found to take place in wild nature rather than a usual woodland or a forest. Lastly, there may be some inconsistency between the text and the illustrations in some parts. In this respect, it is expected to be found some parts of story books will include more text less visuals or less text more visuals.
REFERENCES Cengizoğlu, S. (2013). Investigating potential of education for sustainable development program on preschool children's perceptions about human-environment interrelationship Unpublished Master Thesis. Middle East Technical University, Ankara Clements, R. (2004). An investigation of the status of outdoor play. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 5(1), 68-80. Keliher, V. (1997). Children’s perception of nature. International Research in Geographical and Environ Environmental Education, 6(3), 240-243. Keller, R. K. (2012). Experiencing Nature: Affective, cognitive, and evaluative development in children. Peter H. Kahn and Stephen R. Kellert (Eds.) In Children and Nature: Psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations. London: The MIT Press. O’brien, E., & Wledon, S. (2007). A place where the needs of every child matters: Factors affecting the use of greenspace and woodlands for children and young people. Countryside Recreation Journal, 15, 6-9. Piaget, J. (1971). Biology and Knowledge: An essay on the relations between organic regulations and cognitive processes (B. Walsh, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1967). Rivkin, M. (1997). The schoolyard habitat movement: What it is and Why children need it. Early Childhood Education Journal, 25(1), 61-65. Thigpen, B. (2007). Outdoor play: Combating sedentary lifestyles. Zero to There, 28(1), 19-23. Tuncay, T. & Alan, H. A. (2018). From Lions to Snails, Trees to Mushrooms: How does young children’s perceptions of forest changes in forest school session? OMEP 2018. Valentine, G. & McKendrick, J. (1997). Children’s outdoor play: Exploring parental concerns about children’s safety and the changing nature of childhood. Geoforum 28(2), 219-235. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of higher Mental processes, eds. & trans. M.Cole, V. John-Stainer, S.Scribendier, & E. Souberman. Cambridge, MA: Harward University Press. (Original work published 1935) Yalçin F. & Erden F. (2017). Investigating Young Children’s Perception of Forest and Its Habitat. ECER 2017.
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