Skogsträdgårdsvistelser ur barns perspektiv – Speglat under samtalspromenader

Sammanfattning: The licentiate thesis examines what spending time in a forest garden can offer children when this environment is used for teaching aimed at sustainability. What do the children remember from their visits to the forest garden? What do they find special or memorable? What can the children learn there? To answer such questions, walk-and-talk conversations were conducted with children who for a three-year period had regularly visited a forest garden during school hours.The overall purpose of the licentiate thesis is to deepen knowledge about what spending time in a forest garden in a school context can offer children, reflected from the children's perspectives. Furthermore, the thesis aims to deepen knowledge about walk-and-talk conversations as a data collection method when children are respondents. This leads to the research questions:1. In what ways can walk-and-talk conversations as a data collection method reflect children's perspectives in an environment and in relation to places? What are the possibilities and limitations of the method?2. What significance do forest garden visits in a pedagogical context aimed at learning for sustainability have from the children's perspective?The theoretical starting points of the licentiate thesis draw on social studies of childhood, ecological literacy and affordances. Another concept that emerged in the analysis process was plant blindness. Data consisted of audio-recorded walk-and-talk conversations, children's photographs and recorded informal, supplementary interviews. A total of 28 children (11 boys and 17 girls) participated in sub-studies II and III. The children were aged 7-9 years, but most were 9 years old.The licentiate thesis consists of three sub-studies:Sub-study I is a literature review that focuses on opportunities, limitations, and challenges in using walk-and-talk conversations as a data collection method with children and young people. Walk-and-talk conversations can increase opportunities to capture children's perspectives and help to reduce power imbalances between children and researchers. However, analysing data from child-led walks and conversations can be challenging, while awareness of the researcher's own position and assumptions becomes particularly important.Sub-study II deals with the forest garden from children’s perspective. The first category, ‘to appreciate the place the forest garden’, contained the following themes: physical work, relationships with animals and plants, aesthetic and edible aspects and food, and friends. Most of the children enjoyed staying in the forest garden with its natural features. They valued the care of living organisms and felt that spending time in the forest garden was fun and exciting. In the second category, ‘aspects of learning in the forest garden’, the following themes emerged; practical skills, coexistence and caring, and biological knowledge and ecological understanding.Sub-study III deals with the four most photographed phenomena in the forest garden. The first were the plants, including trees and shrubs, which provided sensual, aesthetic and emotional affordances. The second was the pond, which provided physical affordances and wishes, while the third, the barbecue area, provided social affordances. Finally, the tipi provided affordances for privacy and imagination.To conclude: children's forest garden visits, with learning and nature encounters, can contribute to sustainable development. The investigated forest garden was an outdoor environment designed for children with natural features and with a focus on organic farming, where the forest garden educators helped to create a framework for both learning and relational opportunities. Developing ecological literacy in the new generation is a crucial concern, and the results of the licentiate thesis suggest that establishing educational outdoor environments where children receive parts of their education can contribute to the development of such literacy. The creation of outdoor environments for children is thus an important sustainability issue.