Froebelian Pedagogy as Everyday Activism in Support of a Sustainability Agenda


  • Tansy Watts


play, sensory ethnography, holistic relations, adult, child


A contemporary concern about children’s loss of contact with the natural world accompanies an ongoing urbanization and their reduced independent mobility. Children are becoming increasingly reliant on adults in accessing outdoor play and this is giving rise to more such experiences being shared. This research has explored the contemporary contribution of Froebelian holistic pedagogy through which child, adult and natural environment relations are understood as mutually beneficial. An exploration has been undertaken through preschool organized family trips to nature sites in a suburban English context. Sensory ethnography (Pink, 2009) has framed use of child-worn Go-Pros™ on trips by ten children between two and four-years old. This footage has then formed the basis for sensory elicitation interviews with parents in which we revisit shared experience from their child’s point-of-view.  These parallel perspectives have been analyzed through use of a vocabulary of holistic relations drawn from the theory of the evolution of human consciousness (Gebser, 1949) The potential is highlighted for children to draw adults into sensory experiences, big questions and storied relations with surroundings which can balance the potential for adults to draw children into abstract relations with a global context. Each is equally significant in forming rich, continuous connections between individuals and whole and can highlight the potential offered by Froebel’s pedagogy in support of a sustainability agenda. This is through its orientation to a vision of the whole and significance of our own holistic capacities as everyday activism within this.