The Power of Nature and the Nature of Power

Alison Laurie Neilson

Abstract


This paper explores the process of going outdoors and using “nature” as a way to support teaching about power and privilege within society. It explores how being inside the classroom hinders the process of understand- ing and disrupting power dynamics between learners and instructors. The classroom decontextualizes the learning process by denying the existence of oppressions in society as well as the power dynamics between the teacher and student. The classroom itself is devoid of life supporting forces and is itself oppressive. Taking the learning situation outdoors to a small urban park, the power dynamics change to allow teacher and students to become collaborative learners and together explore systems of oppression. Being outdoors we are bombarded with new stimuli, the presence of other people—nannies, panhandlers, school children—as well as the sun and the wind which provide opportunities for challenging the notion that students need to accept the oppression of the classroom.

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Copyright © Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE) ISSN 1205-5352