If you go down to the woods today...

Generational changes and UK Forest School Leaders' identities
Selected f ndings from doctorate research, Mel McCree, University of Gloucestershire, 2012 i Forest School? A type of outdoor play and learning for all ages, developed in the UK for 15 years and across Europe in different forms. The ethos aims for eco-social flourishing; deeper relationships with nature and a holistic view of the child. Children follow their interests and lead their own learning within as wild an environment as possible, ideally woodland. Repeat visits are made and many schools, nurseries, clubs and groups deliver it as part of their activities. There are over 4000 providers in the UK and this is increasing rapidly. Ecological Identity This was important for the leaders as an influential factor in why they did their role, often due to early experience in nature in their own life (Chawla, 1999). It can be defined as: “ways people construe themselves in relationship to the earth as manifested in personality, values, actions & sense of self” so that “nature becomes an object of identif ication” (Thomashow, 1995) “direct, personal, immediate & emotionally significant experiences with the natural world that change the individual's understanding of self” (Clayton & Opotow, 2003)

Generational changes in childhood. What makes a Forest School Leader? Adult behaviour presents barriers to children This ethnographic study follows 9 trainee accessing free play outside in natural leaders over a year as they begin to practice. settings, or within their education and care. What impact does the training have? Key areas of concern for the leaders were: Or as visualised by the artist Hundertwasser: What factors influence the leaders? How do they act and adapt in their new role? • Free range childhoods. • Childhood to be accepted rather than Findings developing 'citizens of the future' Several key themes emerged from the study. • A lost generation with little experience or The ownership of an ecological identity and relationship in the natural world the impact of generational changes were a • Decreasing green spaces and signif icant part of the findings. independent mobility • Increasingly industrial, sedentary and Why go outside? indoor lifestyles Why stay inside? It is an assumption that • The impact of consumerism and the play and learning has to be indoors. The commercialisation of childhood research investigated where the present • Removal of choice & freedoms to space indoor culture comes from and the socioand thought, prescriptive education and cultural change surrounding Forest Schools culture, controlled play and behaviour. and other outdoor play & learning.

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