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30 September 2021
Child, place, and others: interactions that support outdoor learning
The field of outdoor learning is complex and diverse, with many forms residing under this broad umbrella. This special issue seeks to drill down to the nature of interactions between children and their social and physical environment, encouraging greater detail of features and facilitation by others. Deliberately choosing the term ‘others’ to signal our interest in relationships with the nonhuman world as well as people, articles in the special issue will consider the material and cultural spaces in which activities take place and how they impact on particular outcomes.
The outdoor sector sometimes struggles to describe the processes and places that underpin different forms of outdoor learning. Much literature uses broad brush terms such as ‘the outdoors’ without clear indication of what that comprises or how it might be instrumental in co-producing outcomes with the pedagogies and others involved within that space. Some programmes, e.g. Forest School, have names that do not reflect the nature of the pedagogy or places in which they are enacted. This special issue is looking for greater clarity about different forms of outdoor learning, building theory about pathways to impact.
Human separation from the more-than-human world and anthropocentric interpretations of relationships between them are rejected by some schools of thought, such as new materialism. A range of theoretical perspectives (Beames, Higgins, & Nicol, 2012; Cutter-Mackenzie, Malone & Barratt Hacking, 2018; Roberts, 2012) can offer a productive route to deeper understanding of how the field can best contribute to not only educational but also health and environmental outcomes for young people. All demand precision about the context of children, places and others so that meaningful comparisons and conclusions can be made (Waite, Bølling, & Bentsen, 2016). Aims, details of location and processes are examples of helpful contextualisation. Theorisation further supports modelling how these may interact or coalesce (Quay, 2013).
Closer alignment of models of ‘child, place and others’ interactions with specific intentions enable better design of implementation programmes and the capacity to target these appropriately (Malone & Waite, 2016). This is particularly critical for contracted economies post-COVID-19, where the huge potential impact of outdoor learning in meeting children’s societal and environmental needs may not be realised unless it is clear how and for what different interventions might be useful.
We therefore invite papers that illuminate interactions between child, place and others and the outcomes that they co-produce. Research articles that listen to children’s voices and/or report on interventions with ‘hard to reach’ young people are particularly encouraged. Different theoretical perspectives and methodologies are welcome as we believe this will stimulate debate and help reach consensus on some of the key contributors to children’s education, understanding of and care for the world, and their health and happiness.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Notes on Guest Editors
Heather Prince is Professor of Outdoor and Environmental Education at the University of Cumbria, UK. She is interested in pedagogic practice of outdoor learning in formal education and ways to enhance children’s relationship with place and nature. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, and co-editor of the International Handbook of Outdoor Studies, Research Methods in Outdoor Studies and Outdoor Environmental Education in Higher Education: International Perspectives.
Sue Waite is currently a visiting associate professor at Jönköping University in Sweden and a former associate professor in outdoor learning at University of Plymouth, UK. She is an editorial board member of Education 3-13, the Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education and the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. She has published widely regarding her principal research interests, school-based outdoor learning
and health and wellbeing outcomes from time spent in nature, exploring material and social relations of culture, places and people.
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Articles should be submitted to the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning for peer review but please clearly indicate that the submission is for this special issue by entering ‘Child, place and others’ as the header. We hope to publish the special issue during 2022. Any submitted high-quality articles that are not included in this themed edition will be published in general issues of the journal subject to the authors’ consent.
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