The Power of Nature and the Nature of PowerReport as inadecuate

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Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, v14 n1 p136-148 2009

This paper explores the process of going outdoors and using "nature" as a way to support teaching about power and privilege within society. It explores how being inside the classroom hinders the process of understanding and disrupting power dynamics between learners and instructors. The classroom decontextualizes the learning process by denying the existence of oppressions in society as well as the power dynamics between the teacher and student. The classroom itself is devoid of life supporting forces and is itself oppressive. Taking the learning situation outdoors to a small urban park, the power dynamics change to allow teacher and students to become collaborative learners and together explore systems of oppression. Being outdoors we are bombarded with new stimuli, the presence of other people--nannies, panhandlers, school children--as well as the sun and the wind which provide opportunities for challenging the notion that students need to accept the oppression of the classroom.

Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Power Structure, Teaching Methods, Outdoor Education, Advantaged, Social Status, Geographic Location, Context Effect, Teacher Student Relationship, Reflection, Urban Areas

Lakehead University and Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication. Lakehead University Faculty of Education, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Canada. Fax: 807-346-7771; e-mail: cjee[at]; Web site:

Author: Neilson, Alison Laurie


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