(Re)connecting pedagogies

Examining the links between Froebelian and Common Worlds approaches to environmental learning


  • Sally Howe University of Roehampton


Froebel, Common Worlds, interconnectedness, environmental education


The purpose of this theoretical paper is to examine the links between the philosophical underpinnings of Froebelian pedagogy (where pedagogy is understood as the basis on which early childhood practices are developed) and the pedagogy of a recent movement in environmental education for young children; the Common Worlds Research Collective. Current concerns about environmental damage highlight the importance of finding ways of engaging children with environmental concerns without placing them in untenable positions as “planet savers.” The global reach of the pedagogies under discussion make them valuable platforms for promoting ecological education in the Early Years. Using levels of pedagogical discourse put forward by Le Grange (2018) – ultimate premises, platform-principles and practice – the paper examines the relationship between Froebelian thinking and the Common Worlds approach. Through a discussion of the common philosophical underpinnings, views of children’s agency and relationship with the natural world, I will argue that the Common Worlds’ critique of pedagogy based on Froebel’s thinking and call for a new pedagogy for young children is based on an incomplete reading of Froebel’s nature pedagogy, and does not pay sufficient attention to the common grounds on which these pedagogical approaches are based- namely a view of the world as being infinitely connected  and the role of education as a means of supporting children to understand their connections with the world as it is, and how they can engage with it ethically.