Forest Schools and Environmental Attitudes: a case study of children aged 8–11 years, was published late last year by Cogent Education.
To celebrate International Forest day (March 21st), the publisher has made it freely available to readers, and you can download it here. The paper’s Abstract says:
“There is growing evidence that children in the UK are suffering from a lack of engagement with nature and the outdoor environment. This paper investigates the attitudes of children towards the natural environment and focuses on Forest School programmes as a mechanism to promote a “pro-environmental” attitude. The study identified that there was a statistically significant difference in environmental attitude between groups of children that had participated in a Forest Schools programme and those that had not participated, with children who have taken part in Forest Schools demonstrating a more pro-environmental attitude. Whilst it is recognised that Forest Schools may not be the only factor influencing these attitudes, this is still an important finding that adds to the overall benefits of participation in Forest Schools programmes.”
This may be welcome news to those many people who wonder whether Forest Schools, in general, have anything much to do with the environment, apart from their being in it, of course. Clearly, there would seem to be wide variation in the degree to which they carry out – let’s call it – environmental education.
However, the question of generalisability arises here, as it always does in such research. Given that only 3 Forest Schools were studied here (data came from 59 children), are these schools really represented of the Forest School experience? We wonder. For another view of this paper, please read the NAEE President’s blog.