Exploring the Significant Life Experiences of Childhoodnature

Elisabeth Barratt Hacking, Robert Barratt, Debra Flanders Cushing

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By foregrounding childhoodnature experience and its ongoing influence, Significant Life Experiences (SLE) offers a formative field of research for consideration by childhoodnature researchers. The first part of this chapter summarizes key findings and insights from previous SLE research and, as a contested field, aspects that have been challenged. In the second part, we introduce the nine chapters; here, a collection of contemporary studies interweaves the fields of SLE and childhoodnature through time and space. Together the studies in this section supports previous findings and affords new understandings of how childhoodnature is experienced and how this influences environmental behavior.

In the third part we group the chapter findings into five childhoodnature insights: embodied experience, nature as family, cultural participation, childhoodnature loss, and developing methodologies. The studies reaffirm that SLE in childhoodnature can be a combination of continuous or single experiences, but that self-awareness within experience is significant. Further, SLE are often sociocultural in character involving cultural participation. Authors have also demonstrated the value of exploring the notions of SLE and childhoodnature with educational professionals.

In the final part, we raise issues for future consideration, not least the need for longitudinal research and the advancement of child-framed approaches in these fields. We contend that there is an urgent need for more research in disadvantaged and culturally diverse contexts as a response to the contemporary realities of, and changes to, childhoodnature in the Anthropocene. Importantly, we appeal for a paradigm shift to bring childhoodnature experience into the heart of all education systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Childhoodnature
EditorsAmy Cutter-Mackenzie, Karen Malone, Elisabeth Barratt Hacking
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-67286-1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2019

Publication series

Name Springer International Handbooks of Education


  • Significant Life Experiences · Childhoodnature · Sociocultural perspectives · Cultural participation · Retrospective research · Real-time research · Childframed research


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