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Pedagogy beyond the gate: The Ngahere Project

Janette Kelly and E. Jayne White

The significance of experiences in nature for children’s learning and development has been expounded by philosophers and educationalists for centuries. In many contemporary early childhood education (ECE) settings, such experiences are highly valued. Nowadays, Froebel’s notion of kindergartens as “children’s gardens” is likely to be complemented by ideas from Steiner, Montessori, Malaguzzi and, more recently, by Scandinavian notions of forest kindergartens. In Aotearoa New Zealand the natural environment of the bush or “ngahere”, as it is known in te reo Māori, is also seen as a significant learning environment. This article explores some of the pedagogical issues a group of ECE teachers encountered with children during an action research project looking at teaching and learning possibilities in nature-based settings “beyond the gate”.

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