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Locating the Educator in Outdoor Early Childhood Education

  • Kate Dawson (a1) and A. Elizabeth Beattie (a2)

We tell the story of an experience Kate Dawson, her students, and three eagles had at an outdoor preschool. The experience profoundly affected Kate, and prompted us to ask the following questions: What made this experience feel so magical, and what caused it to happen? Why are these magical moments valuable, and how might they impact our pedagogical practices? We posit that magical moments in outdoor early childhood education depend upon relational and pathic knowledge, and understanding of place, rather than intellectual or cognitive knowledge about place. We suggest conditions and practices educators may employ to foster magical moments, including slow ecopedagogy and embodied, sensory, and spiritual attunement to place. We consider our role as educators in the educator-students-place system, particularly when acknowledging that place is agentic, and acts as learner, knower and teacher. To understand place pedagogically, we must think of ourselves as learners and as the objects of learning, as much as thinking of ourselves as knowers. This requires a pedagogy of embodied responsiveness and a surrender to place as teacher. Far from simplifying the work of the educator, living within a relationship of educator-students-place complexifies the practice of teaching.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: A. Elizabeth Beattie, Department of Curriculum & Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, Vancouver Campus, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BCCanadaV6T 1Z4. Email:
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Australian Journal of Environmental Education
  • ISSN: 0814-0626
  • EISSN: 2049-775X
  • URL: /core/journals/australian-journal-of-environmental-education
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