Playful by nature : transforming the ecological imagination through play and narrative learning : the case of the Swedish "Rain or shine (I ur och skur)" pedagogy
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This thesis explores the potential of play and narrative as transformative learning approaches through a case study of the Swedish Rain or Shine (I Ur Och Skur) early-childhood outdoor pedagogy. Ur Och Skur utilizes a narrative learning method. Fantasy nature creatures introduce children in their formative years to Scandinavian environmental values. This study has had many theoretical inspirations, but it is largely based on philosophical hermeneutics, a theory, which in turn employs Hans-Georg Gadamer’s ontology of play and a fusion of horizons. These are the foundations of a discussion of the transformative qualities of narrative learning and its application in childhood education. This is done with a view to global initiatives to transform education to include a vital ecological element—in particular, the UN’s worldwide initiative: Education for Sustainable Development. This theoretical exploration provides a framework to present how the Rain or Shine pedagogy utilizes narrative learning methods outdoors in order to help cultivate a love, wonder and respect for the more-than-human nature. I sought insights into the effectiveness of this narrative learning method through a series of interviews with teachers and participation in and observations of three Rain or Shine kindergartens in Norway and Sweden. My study culminated in a series of interviews with former students of this pedagogy, now adults, who were asked if, and how, this affected how they perceived the more-than-human nature (their ecological imagination) as a child, and influenced how they view and experience nature today. Their responses indicated that these nature creatures did influence the way they perceived nature at the time. They did not single out direct measurable effects of this pedagogy on their adult behaviors. However, their experiences do bring up possible connections and linkages, which demand further studies.