We want to systematise and disseminate a new developing educational approach that bridges Education in Nature with Democratic Education (we call it Democratic Education in Nature – DEN).
Democratic Education is based on two principles:
- Democratic governance, through community processes where all members of the school can participate in decision making with equal rights.
- Autonomy for the students to determine their own learning path, based on cutting edge scientific standards of intrinsic motivation (see for instance Ryan & Deci, 2008) .
Education in Nature sees nature as the main learning environment for children, implemented by schools in nature (i.e. forest or beach schools), outdoor learning/environmental organizations.
The partners of this projects consider the following gaps in both:
- Democratic schools often do not take full advantage of the benefits of the natural setting in children’s development. Hundreds of studies suggest that experiences of nature are fundamental for a healthy physiological and psychological development, to boost learning and environmental stewardship.
- Schools in nature are mostly seen only suitable for kindergarten age, using the „new“ natural environment only from 3 to 6 years old. After that age, children enter a traditional school system, where learning is hardly ever outdoors.
We believe there is a great benefit of combining the two approaches, as it would allow children of primary schools in particular to benefit from contact with nature through a democratic education system based on intrinsic motivation and that works harmoniously with Education in Nature.
The DEN project has therefore the objective of putting forward a new developing approach that bridges Education in Nature with Democratic Education in order to:
- promote the professionalization of organizations and schools already practicing this pedagogical approach,
- creating an exchange of competencies of European school/organizations interested in improving their competences,
- promoting Democratic Education in Nature in traditional schools and organizations not familiar with these concepts yet,
- fostering change in education policy development
These objectives will be reached by doing three activities in the project:
- Research: scientific research will be done using questionnaire, literature review and focus groups to gather information about the application, needs and benefits of Democratic Education in the three partner’s country. A Research Report will be published
- Workshop: a series of free online workshops will be organized to train and divulge about Democratic Education in Nature
- Guidelines: we will write recommendation to how to apply Democratic Education in Nature in schools.