Nature and freedom in education - Findings from a qualitative study on school leisure time in natural settings
Nowadays, more and more educational methods are being used to raise students’ environmental awareness. At the same time, however, young people have fewer opportunities to spend leisure time in nature (in other words, to do free exploration in nature), the importance of which has been confirmed by numerous studies. This paper presents the results of a qualitative research that investigated the effects, implementation aspects and integration potential of free exploration in nature in the Hungarian school system. A total of 15 interviews were conducted in five schools. Data processing based on Grounded Theory was used to isolate the relevant aspects of the issue. The most important categories include positive aspects (e.g. pedagogical, psychological, social and physical benefits), negative aspects (e.g. accident factors; students put themselves, others and the environment at risk; negative feelings of students, parents and teachers), implementation aspects (e.g. degree of teacher control and education; preparation; link to school operations; role of age), barriers (e.g. weather; school environment; attitudes of students, teachers and parents; specific features of the education system; lack of time; risk of accidents; financial constraints) and facilitating dissemination (e.g. changing the education system; changing the mindset of teachers and policy makers; patronage; exchange of experience). These results can promote the conscious and appropriate use of free exploration in nature in education systems.
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