Forget your Botany: Developing children’s sensibility to nature through arts-based environmental education

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This paper explores how environmental education of children can be enriched by drawing on contributions from the arts. When educators try to establish a bond between children and nature, they are faced with major challenges. Conventional environmental education, which is often very science- and data-centred, is not automatically appealing to young children. And too much focus on alarming news about the state of the world’s ecosystems can lead to despair and indifference. In general, many children seem to have lost interest in nature because it is less exciting than the world of electronic illusions. Educators seem badly in need of innovative ways to awaken and nourish the sensibility of children to the natural world. Early in the 1990’s a group of art educators in Finland, aware of the worsening ecological crisis in the society around them, began to ask how art could come to help in the development of a more profound form of environmental education. Aesthetic or arts-based environmental education is grounded in the belief that sensitivity to the environment can be developed by artistic activities. The paper presents three inspiring cases of this form of environmental education, taken from Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe international journal of the arts in society
PublisherCommon Ground Publishing Pty Ltd
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)1833-1866
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • art education
  • environmental education
  • learning
  • nature
  • ecological crisis
  • children
  • senses
  • perception


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