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Thursday, 28 November 2013

"Rich in Potential, Strong, Powerful and Competent"

A pine resin candle made by eight year old visitors to a residential environmental education project.

I was doing some reading as part of my studies towards a Masters degree in outdoor education recently and came across this quote in a paper; the author describes the children he is working with as being trusted to be "Rich in Potential, Strong, Powerful and Competent" (Edwards et al 1998), this was describing children in an indoor mainstream nursery setting but it stuck me that this quote can sum up the aims of forest schools, and early years outdoor education in the UK.
The social development and empowering of children is a key aim of these programs; is there a better way to empower children than give them opportunities to be outside, use tools, light fires, cook food and have their own adventures. I don't really think there is, however much responsibility you give to a child in a classroom they are still ultimately controlled by their surroundings, the layout of the classroom, the walls, the rules of being indoors; don't be too messy, don't be too loud etc.... By taking them outside and letting them explore and discover they are empowered to develop their own understanding and skills, with some element of guidance and facilitation from a supervising adult of course, but that freedom of being outdoors and being told to "go and explore" or "here's a firesteel, make a fire" must be far more empowering than being inside, mustn't it??    

A 'Fairy boat' made by seven year old's 


Edwards, Gandini L, Forman G (1998) The Hundred Languages of Children - Advanced Reflections. Greenwich Connecticut. Ablex Publishing; cited in Harker E (n.d) How can I carry out Masters level educational research without abandoning my own educational values? available from [accessed on 04/11/2010]

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