Borderland Voices and Practices: The Ambiguity of Children's Participation in School Grounds Greening


  • Greg Mannion University of Stirling, Scotland


Commentators on children's experience (largely the urban experience of the developed countries) indicate that publicly accessible open space for children is being limited due to commercialization, litigation, fear for children's safety, and changes in lifestyle. One of these open spaces facing change is the school grounds. Evidence is drawn from a Scottish based multiple case study of 22 school grounds projects. One finding is that when participation is a project goal, children can be involved at high levels of decision making and activity but that adults are seen to maintain a strong gatekeeper role. A typology of utopic practice is offered with respect to children's participation in grounds development. The analysis suggests that different project hopes and expectations can have multiple, ambiguous, and sometimes conflicting effects for children—a moot point for proponents of education for sustainable development who consider the need to address real world issues to be a central tenet.