The secret language of flowers: insights from an outdoor, arts-based intervention designed to connect primary school children to locally accessible nature

Journal article


Hallam, Jenny, Gallagher, Laurel and Owen, Kay 2021. The secret language of flowers: insights from an outdoor, arts-based intervention designed to connect primary school children to locally accessible nature. Environmental education research. 28 (1), pp. 128-145. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2021.1994926
AuthorsHallam, Jenny, Gallagher, Laurel and Owen, Kay
Abstract

This paper uses ethnography to explore an outdoor, arts-based intervention run by Urban Wilderness, in partnership with an English primary school. Urban Wilderness are a not-for-profit organisation which aims to connect children and young people from disadvantaged areas to locally accessible nature. Over the course of three afternoon workshops, Urban Wilderness facilitators, a professional artist and teaching staff explored a local park with ten 9–10-year-old children and co-created a sculpture which was exhibited in the park as part of a family festival. Analysis of audio recordings and photographs taken during the workshops explored the ways in which a youth led approach and arts-based methods (i) fostered a sense of connection to the park and (ii) deepened the children’s knowledge about the plants they observed. It is argued that arts-based methods created a sense of presence in nature which fostered close attention to the surrounding environment and reflection upon the children’s relationship with it. The creation of art also facilitated the development of multi-levelled understandings of nature which encompassed identification, folk law and symbolism. As such analysis highlighted the relevance of outdoor learning and a Froebelian approach for older primary school children who are traditionally taught in classroom environments.

Keywordsethnography; qualitative research; nature contact; primary education; Froebelian pedagogy
Year2021
JournalEnvironmental education research
Journal citation28 (1), pp. 128-145
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor and Francis
ISSN1469-5871
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2021.1994926
Web address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2021.1994926
hdl:10545/626103
Output statusPublished
Publication dates08 Nov 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Oct 2021
Deposited10 Nov 2021
ContributorsUniversity of Derby and Urban Wilderness
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