Forest pedagogy in challenging times #7
Learning in and with nature in times of change #6
4. May 2020
Forest pedagogy in challenging times #8
20. May 2020

Forest pedagogy in challenging times #7


Forest Games as a Pedagogic Method

Author: Anna Lena Albertsen, Forestry Extension Institute, Norway


L earn about your local forest.
Learn in accordance with the national school curriculum.

Those are two important principles for forest pedagogics in Norway. The teaching programme Learning with the Forest is meant as an aid in various school subjects. Web sites present facts about forests and forestry, pupils may learn through interactive activities, and the teachers find educational material. The aim is to increase the understanding of the forests’ many functions: cultural, ecological, and economic.

The Norwegian Forestry Society invites pupils out for active learning in the forest, and our Norwegian Forest Museum receives pupils into their arena. They do a great job, inspiring and educating hundreds of teachers and pupils! However, their capacity is limited. Yet, for many schools in Norway, the access to a forest is not limited. So how can we assist schools throughout the whole country? How can we encourage them to use their local forest, not only for hiking and playing, but also as a “classroom”?

We have united our forces, and together with Hamar Nature School, we offer the Forest Games. The Forest Games is a national competition where 5th graders are invited to participate.

The participating schools receive two different challenges, which are both related to their local forest. Together the teacher and the pupils sort out how they want to resolve the challenge. The tasks are in accordance with national teaching goals, and the teacher is responsible for the pedagogic methods. All we do, is “get them started”. We give them tasks and ideas, and they accomplish the tasks themselves. On our web sites we offer pedagogic and digital resources.

All the schools are given individual feedback on their work. In the end around fifteen schools qualify for the finals, where they meet and compete in both practical and theoretical tasks.

What is the feedback from the participants? Here are some quotes from teachers and pupils:

  • The teaching resources available on the web sites are so useful!
  • We enjoy the variation; this is a different way of learning.
  • Being a competition makes it exciting!
  • We use our senses in the forest in a new way now. Earlier we used to look for a place to have a lunch break, now we search for signs and traces of animals in the forest.
  • The feedback was important for the pupils; they appreciated being “seen” by someone other than the teacher.

Some challenges? Around 100 schools have joined per year, and we would like that number to increase. We want more teachers and children to discover the possibilities of the forest. How can we reach out to more teachers and make them take that first step out of the classroom?

Well, we might have received unexpected aid for that this year. Because of the corona virus disease, and as the pupils are slowly returning to their schools, teachers are now encouraged to increase outdoor teaching.

In addition, this autumn new national school curriculum will be implemented, and they emphasise the importance of education for sustainable development. Shouldn’t this make the forest the ideal arena?