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Epistemological moves in nature meetings in preschool and what they mean for children´s meaning making and action competence for sustainable development.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education. (SMED)
2011 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Epistemological moves in nature meetings in preschool and what they mean for children´s meaning making and action competence for sustainable development.

This is a study of children´s encounters with nature and what companion meanings about nature that are constituted in these encounters. By doing a comparison with earlier research of nature views, I investigate if and how the children’s actions in the present study show similar views or if new ones appear.

Previous research shows that the view of nature in the Swedish school system is mostly romantic. Nature stands for peace, the good, health, a pedagogical resource and freedom (Halldén, 2009) and the view of nature is often built on a biocentric idea (Thulin, 2006). In contrast some surveys from Britain and Australia shows a complete different view of nature as something dangerous and problematic (Bonnett & Williams, 1998; Gambino, Davis, & Rowntree, 2009), that we as humans have to deal with in one way or another.

My study of practices in a Swedish preschool, however, shows that the nature in some encounters is viewed as something dangerous. In my study the children show different views of nature in different situations. Sometimes an anthropocentric view and sometimes a biocentric view of nature is constituted in the preschool practice. In other words, there is not one way of viewing nature – it depends of the situation and the participants in the encounter. In the paper I argue that this has implications for children’s ability to develop action competence for sustainability. A pluralism of ways to view nature is applicable here (well, at least two), which is an important aspect of action competence. I define action competence as an ability to critically weigh different sources and then be able to make a decision about what way or view is the most suitable one in the particular occurrence. When children get the opportunity to view nature from different perspectives, they are offered an important educational step to develop this competence.


Bonnett, M., & Williams, J. (1998). Environmental education and primary children's attitudes towards nature and the environment. [Article].

Cambridge Journal of Education, 28

(2), 159.

Gambino, A., Davis, J., & Rowntree, N. (2009). Young Children Learning for the Environment: Researching a Forest Adventure. [Article].

Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 25

, 83-94.

Halldén, G. (2009).

Naturen som symbol för den goda barndomen

. Stockholm: Carlssons.

Thulin, S. (2006).

Vad händer med lärandets objekt? : en studie av hur lärare och barn i förskolan kommunicerar naturvetenskapliga fenomen

. Växjö: Växjö University Press.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-183292OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-183292DiVA: diva2:562324
The GRESD International ESD Research Conference, 17-19 May, 2011 in Uppsala, Sweden
Available from: 2012-10-24 Created: 2012-10-24 Last updated: 2012-11-06Bibliographically approved

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