CB #6: Shallow


Friluftsliv: the Scandinavian word that means “free air life”. Hans Gelter writes about free air life being more than bird watching and berry picking. I think this is also related to environmental education in the sense that those actions are shallow versions of living an environmentally educated life. I struggled while I was reading this article with the fact that what I think of doing in a classroom to incorporate environmental education may contradict Gelter’s friluftsliv.

I have come to realize that being eco-literate and environmentally educated is a lifestyle.  Impacting the lifestyle of the kids I teach is a big challenge to take on at the same time as treaty education, and the Saskatchewan curriculum, and everything else a teacher needs to focus on. Going outside to teach a lesson, or doing a class project on recycling is a great start, but I also need to instil a lifestyle of eco-literacy into the children I educate. This is an weighty challenge!

How does one change a person’s lifestyle, and especially that of a minor who is under the influence of their caregivers? Written out, that statement sounds controlling and domineering, but I feel comfortable with it, because I am trying to figure out how to influence the students in my classroom for the better. Perhaps instead of saying my students need to have their lifestyle be something specific, it is better to educate them, and have them create their own will to better the environment. Educating them on the way humans impact the environment negatively, and the shortening lifespan of the ocean, the trees, and endangered species, will allow them to discover a cause for a changed lifestyle.

Our inquiry learning assignment has me pondering the 5 “e’s”: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. Using projects and lessons that incorporate inquiry learning done in accordance to the “e’s” will aid me in creating a cause in students for a changed lifestyle. Along with action learning, which can also be a part of inquiry learning through the exploring and elaborating process. Getting children involved and interested in environmental education may be a challenge, but it is also necessary. Hans Gelter may not approve of the small actions that can be done in a classroom, but I still think they are better than nothing.

Gelter, H. (2000). Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 5, 77-90.


2 thoughts on “CB #6: Shallow

  1. Morgan Herbison says:

    Hi Kim! I’ve been reading about Friluftsliv myself these days so I can understand the challenge of reconciling the way Gelter writes about true Filuftsliv with a classroom setting. Does it feel overwhelming to be faced with the responsibility to change the lifestyle’s of your students? I think it’s interesting with Friluftsliv, even in the way that Gelter writes about it, we can often let go of that responsibility a bit and turn towards the knowledge and experiences that children already have. Gelter writes about the consciousness and fantasy required to see that every rock, leaf, tree has its own form, history, story, right to exist. I’ve often found (as a primary teacher) that when given the space to show it, many children will show me that they do already know a lot about that. I did a project pretty recently where my grade one students were talking about their stories of trees and it was pretty phenomenal what they showed about respect for nature and sort of telling how the people and the nature in their stories taught them something or made a special memory or place for them. As teachers I think we do need to be thoughtful about making space for children’s relationships with place to evolve and grow, but also aware that they do have those relationships, in some way, already planted in them. So don’t remorse! It’s all possible with a little bit of help from the kiddos 🙂
    Morgan Herbison (grade 1 teacher in Regina)


  2. Audrey says:

    Kim, I very much agree with this: “Perhaps instead of saying my students need to have their lifestyle be something specific, it is better to … have them create their own will to better the environment”. I think it is important to realize that it is impossible to be neutral as a teacher, and that you will influence them in particular ways, but also that attempting to make your students change exactly as you see fit is somewhat problematic. However, that free air life philosophy aids in relationship with land and each other, even in small ways.


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