Research Summary

Comparing apples and pears?: A conceptual framework for understanding forms of outdoor learning through comparison of English Forest Schools and Danish udeskole

The Danish udeskole is more integrated in the national educational system than are Forest Schools in England

Environmental Education Research
2016

A review of the literature compared two forms of outdoor learning – English Forest Schools and Danish udeskole – and examined ways in which their adopted pedagogies reflect and refract their respective cultures. In examining the purposes, aims, content, pedagogy, outcomes, and barriers associated with each outdoor learning model, both commonalities and differences were identified.

The literature identified and analyzed for this research review included small scale studies and previously unpublished material, as well as journal articles and books. A total of 28 records on Forest Schools and 11 on udeskole were included. Twenty-one of these records were unpublished reports and articles. The rationale for including grey literature (not peer-reviewed) is based on the fact that the literature pool was relatively small.

After describing the methodology and conceptual framework of their review, authors present the features of Forest Schools and udeskole as contextualized within the educational systems and cultural antecedents of their respective countries. They develop the argument that while Forest Schools and udeskole share a similar philosophical approach, the ways in which they are interpreted and enacted differ due to distinct political and educational systems and their origins at different levels of education.

Identified commonalities of Forest Schools and udeskole include their outdoor setting, their holistic educational approach, and their belief in the benefits of outdoor learning. One of the identified differences between these two forms of outdoor learning relates to how they are integrated within their national educational systems. Udeskole was found to be the more embedded form of outdoor learning, while Forest Schools tend to be largely an external school service.

The final section of this review is devoted to a discussion about how awareness of global cultural and political influences and philosophies is essential in understanding and learning from cross-national comparative and collaborative research.

Citation
Waite, S., Bolling, M., & Bensten, P.. (2016). Comparing apples and pears?: A conceptual framework for understanding forms of outdoor learning through comparison of English Forest Schools and Danish udeskole. Environmental Education Research, 22(6), 868-892. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2015.1075193