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Take action! Encountering disorienting dilemmas in order to include the more-than-human world - an act of sustainable thinking

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Margaretha Häggström
Publicerad i NERA, 4-6 March, 2020: Rethinking the futures of education in the Nordic countries
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession
Språk en
Länkar tps://nera2020.fi/wp-content/upload...
Ämnesord Disorienting dilemmas, affective learning, art-based environmental education, transformative learning, sustainability
Ämneskategorier Pedagogiskt arbete, Didaktik, Utbildningsvetenskap


The life on earth is at risk; forests are burning, oceans are becoming seas of plastic, animal and plant extinction and deforestation is growing steadily. Climate change is one issue that concerns children the most (Strazdins & Skeat, 2011, Ojala & Bengtsson, 2019; UNICEF, 2019). In order to restore the balance and prevent more collapses, we need to conceive new paths of living and new versions of ourselves, which will be a severe and profound challenge, Head (2015) stresses. This will require significant attention in education, which is acknowledged in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals from 2015 (UN, 2015). However, education should not prescribe how students should behave and live their lives, but instead to encourage students’ engagement and connecting with humans as well as with the more-than-human world (Wals, 2015). According to UNICEF, education at every stage should include environmental-related topics in the curricula. UNICEF also address that children ought to be given a greater voice on climate change issues. This presentation is based on a one year long participatory action research study, including 22 students in a compulsory Grade two class (year 8-9). The study builds on Affective learning theory (Gurewitz, 2000), including Art-based environmental education (Mantere, 1992; van Boeckel, 2013 and Transformative learning and the notion of disorienting dilemmas, i.e. experiences that force an individual to change her or his view of the world in one way or another (Mezirow, 2000). These overlapping and partly related approaches offer an optimistic view on environmental education. The general aim with this study is to shed light on the students’ actions regarding disorienting dilemmas they encountered in the nearby forest, through a six week long Storyline. An underlying purpose is to study the role of the teacher, and the interaction between the teacher and the pupils. The teacher’s aim with the Storyline was to create a Storyline in which the students were enabled to enhance ecological literacy and thus to prevent plant blindness i.e. the “inability to see and notice the plants in one’s own environment and the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere”. Research questions are i) How do the participating pupils act in the forest? ii) What do the pupils express with regard to their actions? iii) How does the student teacher respond to the pupils’ actions? The result shows that the students developed action competence for sustainability. A prerequisite for this was the teacher’s flexibility and open minded approach that allowed for unplanned events to occur. Letting the pupils encountering disorienting dilemmas was one way of starting this process which led to action. The incentive of such experiences may be more powerful than those we usually orchestrate at school.

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