7. Engaging forest school day: making use of young people’s forest relationship

Presenter: Elli Hämynen (University of Eastern Finland) and Jaakko Nippala (4H organization, Finland)

Description: Human-forest relationship is an emerging research theme that informs the forest pedagogical activities that take place in schools in collaboration with NGOs (such as 4H organization) and universities.

This workshop built on a recent internet survey study for Finnish young people on 5th to 9th grade at school (11-16 years). Participants liked forest school days and over 80% of respondents wanted to spend school days outside. However, less than half of the respondents wanted to learn more about forests and only one quarter was interested in forest related jobs in future. The survey suggests that this age group of Finnish pupils appreciates the joy of forests, investigating forests and the intrinsic value of forests, but there exists also a group with a more negative relationship to forest.

The workshop pursued figuring out novel pedagogical solutions that would make use of the above young people’s perceptions, with an aim of making the forest school days even more engaging and facilitating a more positive relationship to forest. With the results, both participants and organizers were equipped with new promising ideas on how to re-design forest days in a more pupil-driven way and in inter-organizational collaboration.

Format: Forest café (world café exercise outdoors with trees around).

  1. Organizer(s) introduced the survey study and its main findings and forest pedagogical challenges (15 min). 
  2. Division into four groups of 4-6 people each and to four thematic café spots: desire to learn, jobs in forests, joy of investigation, and positive relationship. Each group used 20 minutes on each spot, shares their best practices, and creates their enhanced pedagogical ideas, which the groups documented as photographs at the workshop’s social media event site (80 min).
  3. All groups gathered and shared their most inspiring ideas (15 min).
  4. Organizer(s) reflected on the output and suggested avenues for further activities (5 min).
  5. The social media event site, containing facilitators’ photographs of the process and participants’ photographs on the content as well as reflections, was used to present the workshop activity and proceedings later in the conference.

The workshop was moderated by a pedagogics expert and a forester.