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People think very little about the consequences of consumer and ecological manners. Responsibility for raising chil- dren to sustainable behaviour is transmitted to educational institutions that bear the full weight of this burden. Non- teaching experts such as foresters enter the educational process. These specialists are called “forest educators”. At the 14th European Forest Pedagogics Congress 2019 in Latvia, 167 forest educators from Europe met, and 52 of them were willing to participate in a qualitative research survey. This paper aimed to identify why foresters, as people without pedagogical education and despite the unfavourable funding, become educators. The following questions guided this research: What leads them to start organizing educational and adventure programmes for children and the public? Is their intrinsic motivation based on an unconscious level to implement ideas of Deep Ecology? Philosophy of Arne Naess and semi-structured interviews with forest educators in the form of the Pyramid Model of Wengraf, through which qualitative data were obtained, methodologically approached this paper. Interviews with foresters revealed their values, needs, motivation, dominant psychological-ethical moments and prosocial behaviour that brings inner satisfaction and pedagogical activity as an added value of their profession. Forest educators have a unique philosophical system related to nature and the environment. They subconsciously follow and develop the ideas of Deep Ecology through the methods of Forest Pedagogy. The paper presents the way of involving forest educators into the distance and online teaching due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as the topic for further research in this area. Key words: Arne Naess; ecosophy; education for the 21st century; Forest Pedagogy online; Wengraf Pyramid model Editor: Bohdan Konôpka mate changes, global economic stability, labour market 1. Introduction trends, impending energy crisis, depletion of non-renew- The cause of the ecological crisis is due to human attitudes able fossil fuels, poverty, and inadequate medical care of superiority over nature. The creation of a new harmoni- (Bolstad et al. 2012). Slaughter (1974) states that the ous relationship between humans and nature is the goal for long-term intention of the educational system must con- a deeply oriented environmental movement, which is cern broader social, political, and economic objectives. associated with the name of the Norwegian philoso- Education is the key to make society move towards pher Arne Naess (1912–2009), who considers his ideas sustainable and ecological perception (Britto 2017). as “nonviolent and long-lasting revolution” (Naess 1989, Dumont et al. (2010) introduce seven principles of learn- 1993). It seems time has come to resurrect and bring to ing and teaching for the 21st century. Main pillars are (1) mind the ideas of Arne Naess, who gave the world a cohe- Learners at the centre; (2) The social nature of learning; rent philosophy and the necessary dose of radicality. His (3) Emotions are integral to the learning process; (4) appeal seems to be up to date these days. Recognizing individual differences; (5) Stretching all Modern society is harming the environment. The students; (6) Assessment for learning; (7) Building hori- Value Objectivism characterizes Deep Ecology: animals zontal connection. It is precisely the point (3), intuition, have value in themselves and the right to live, even though emotionality, and empathy, thanks to which, according they are not directly useful to humans. Naess (1989) to Naess (1989), the individual acquires the truth about accentuates a universally shared lifestyle that is sustain- the world and wisdom. able without injuring other life forms. Arne Naess‘s ideas Naess (1989) considers nature as the best source of can be well applied in education for the 21st century, knowledge; however, the disadvantage of many environ- which must reflect current global challenges such as cli- mental education programmes is that they show nature *Corresponding author. Karolina Macháčková, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +420 720 554 799 K. Machackova / Cent. Eur. For. J. 67 (2021) 14–20 from an adult perspective, which is too abstracted for The common goal of foresters and teachers should the child‘s perception in the early years. Naess suggests be to organize a lesson in which pupils better under- that the essential tool for the knowledge of nature is the stand the context of nature. The forest would serve as non-rational form of cognition, empathy, identification a unique classroom, combining the experience of the through emotions, not through reason. Humans perceive forester with the teacher‘s expertise. This approach con- nature by empathy more objectively than scientifically. nects pedagogy-experience and nature (Machar 2009), That is the reason why education should consist of events where pupils meet their teachers working as a team and creative activities; there is not a sharp line between member and gain valuable social experience. Stern et al. learning and action (Naess 1989, 1993). How we relate (2010) revealed that specific characteristics of teachers, to nature is a matter of feeling, so Naess recommends particularly enthusiasm, interest in the matter, sincerity getting feelings into learning as well and emphasizes that and charisma, are strongly associated with more positive feelings have cognitive value (Devall & Sessions 2007). pupils achievements. Other authors support the impor- This point of view is supported by Wedlichová (2011): tance of demonstrating genuine care of students (Russel sensory experiences can increase emotional intelligence 2000; Ballantyne et al. 2001; Fien & Packer 2001) and in children. providing a holistic experience (Tilden 1957; Skibins et Environmental education and training for sustain- al. 2012). Stern et al. (2008) found that when teachers are able behaviour are closely related to the natural environ- actively involved in on-site lessons with instructors, stu- ment. We can hardly n fi d a better example of sustainable dents‘ outcomes are generally more positive. The n fi dings management for centuries than in forestry. In nature, it is suggest that teachers and other adults play a crucial role the best to demonstrate methods to improve sustainable in environmental literacy development (Emmons 1997; development and environmental education. Slee (2001) Rickinson 2001; Sivek 2002; Stern et al. 2008, 2010). considers forest to be a natural framework, essential for Increasing aggression of children and heavy mental human existence and development as forests perform burden accompany the educational process. Children are many functions-protective, medicinal, economic, rec- alienated from nature, showing no interest in education reational, and educational. Could it be the reason why (Mazáčová 2001; Bajtoš & Honzíková 2007). Burnout foresters enter the educational process? often occurs in the teaching profession, and the education Forest Pedagogy represents neoteric sustainability sector is often under-funded in many countries. Liu et education that corresponds to the philosophy of Deep al. (2000) reported that in the USA teaching is a signifi- Ecology, affecting emotions, will, and awareness. The cantly less prestigious profession than others in terms of basic principle of Forest Pedagogy is the perception of income, with teachers earning among the lowest annual nature by all senses, according to Pestalozzi‘s concept salaries of their college cohort (Henke et al. 2000, as cited of “learning with head, heart, and hand” (Kuhlemann & in Liu et al. 2000). Teachers work under the scrutiny of Brühlmeier 2002). Cornell (1991, 1998, 2012) qualifies parents and the media without sufficient job satisfac - Forest Pedagogy as a form of public relations and social tion (Spear et al. 2000; Lai et al. 2001; Hoyle 2008). phenomenon that includes environmental education, Much of the existing literature on teachers‘ motivation institutions, associations, forest schools and describes to teach coming from western countries found teachers four levels of experience: awakening enthusiasm, focus- to be motivated mainly by intrinsic and altruistic motives ing attention, direct experience, and sharing inspiration. such as nurturing students‘ growth (Sinclair 2008). They The term “forest educator” is currently used and uni- believe they contribute to society and may consider teach- fied in the international forest environment and means ing as a vocation (Spear et al. 2000; Scott et al. 2001; a Forest Pedagogy Lecturer as a professional forester Richardson & Watt 2006; Alexander 2008). with pedagogical education gained by a particular course. This paper aims to identify why foresters, as people Experts with forestry education or experience in forestry without pedagogical education and despite the unfavour- who have completed a Forest Pedagogy course accredited able financial valuation, become educators. The follow- by the relevant Ministry of Agriculture of the given state ing questions guided the research: What made them start can become forest educators. Forest Pedagogy courses organizing educational and adventure programmes? Is are of two types and take 40 hours each. The introductory their intrinsic motivation based on an unconscious level one, where foresters learn the fundamentals of pedagogy, to implement ideas of Deep Ecology? Semi-structured psychology and didactics, and are trained to work with interviews methodologically approached this topic with class groups of kindergartens, primary and secondary forest educators in the form of the Pyramid Model of schools. The advanced course is intended for graduates Wengraf, through which qualitative data were obtained. of the introductory course and expands the target groups The results may contribute to understanding better by adults, seniors and groups with special educational the content of work, formal and legal issues as well as needs. Forest Pedagogy courses are compatible with courses in other European countries and are based on the employment conditions of forest educators and improve outputs of the European project PAWS (Pädagogische their relations with teachers. Education is an integral part Arbeit im Wald). of forestry, in particular as forest tenure changes, and now the share of private forest ownership is large. The 15 K. Machackova / Cent. Eur. For. J. 67 (2021) 14–20 growing public interest in the recreational function of the The structure of questions according to the Pyramid forest makes forest education now more crucial than ever. Wengraf model (2001) is as follows: The main research question What made foresters become educators, what does the 2. Material and methods profession bring to them and what motivates them? In recent years, there has been an increase in new criteria Specific Research Question 1 to assess the quality of qualitative research. In a plethora What work experience and education did the foresters of modern terms, many modern concepts can be found have before they become educators? such as imperial validity, ironic validity, situational – Forestry education, validity, neopragmatism validity, rhizomatic validity, – pedagogical education, overt validity, instrumental validity, or theoretical valid- – previous experience from leisure activities. ity (Altheide & Johnson 1994). Based on the above, the Specific Research Question 2 qualitative research was carried out, as qualitative data What influenced the decision of the forest educator to naturally describe the situation and aims to understand choose his new professional focus? people and the events in their lives (Gavora 2008). The – Previous positions, interviewee fully expresses subjective opinions and indi- – financial remuneration, cates relations and contexts (Hendl 2016). Qualitative – other reasons. research is not based on any hypothesis or theory but tries to outline a new theory (Švaříček & Šeďová 2007). Specific Research Question 3 The advantage of the interview is also a significantly How do forest educators perceive their profession? higher proportion of completed interviews compared to – Positives and negatives, the return rate of the questionnaires, and also the pos- – how should ideal forest educator look like? sibility to clarify responses which have not been previ- Probing, based on questions and non-verbal hints, ously appropriately understood and the researcher is was used to deepen answers in a particular direction. sure to speak to the intended person (Disman 2002). A problem-oriented interview, tailored to the research In this paper, the method of the in-depth individual goal was conducted. Transcripts of interviews were semi-structured interview was applied. The Pyramid transformed and interpreted to capture the complexity Model of the interview was used to create the interview of the examined phenomenon. The Open coding for data scheme (Wengraf 2001). This model consisted of a cen- evaluation and the ATLAS.ti programmes were used, tral research question, theory questions, and particular where each significant sentence, word, or phrase, was interview questions. highlighted and assigned a code representing the essence of the text. According to the codes, information was com- pared to each other, merging and integrating similar and 2.1. Research sample related semantic units. The first criterion was that all of the respondents for qualitative research were forest educators actively pur- 3. results suing their profession. The second criterion was an international comparison. An available opportunity On the answers obtained from the interviews conducted was the 14th European Forest Pedagogics Congress according to the Pyramid Model by Wengraf (2001), data 2019 in Riga, Latvia, with international participation of were analyzed and interpreted. one hundred sixty-seven forest educators from eighteen European countries. The third criterion was the diversity of organizations in which forest educators operate, i.e. 3.1. Education and professional experience Urban or State Forests, Forest Learning Centers, Envi- of forest educators ronmental Centers, and Youth Homes. The research sample included fifty-two active forest 3.1.1 Forest Education educators from various forestry organizations from five regions of the Czech Republic (18), as well as foresters Almost all (49) forest educators addressed have a forestry from Finland (2), Norway (3), Latvia (9), Germany (5), education and completed a course in Forest Pedagogy, Poland (3), Slovakia (4), Slovenia (3), Luxembourg (5) which is an essential condition for practising this profes- and other countries. The qualitative data collection was sion. A minimal number of foresters (3) do not have a for- in progress from 1st July to 31st October 2019 during the estry education, which is compensated by no less than ten congress, and after its completion, interviews with for- years of experience in environmental education centres. est educators took place via Google Meet and Microsoft Teams online. Subsequently, the text was submitted to the respondents for authorization. 16 K. Machackova / Cent. Eur. For. J. 67 (2021) 14–20 then offered them the opportunity to attend the course 3.1.2 Pedagogical education and become a forest educator. All respondents (52) are graduates at least an introduc- tory Forest Pedagogy course. More than half of them (38) also have a certificate from the extension course. Every- 3.2.2 Financial aspect one confirms that the course is beneficial, as they know Forest educators coincide that salaries did not play a role the basics of didactics, psychology, have the opportunity in their decision-making. One forest educator describes to meet new colleagues and acquire inspiration for future it as follows: It is not possible to get rich in Forest Peda- work. Forest educators mostly agree that without the gogy. When it becomes a business, enthusiasm is lost. At basics of developmental psychology and the basics of peda- present, in many European countries, the profession of a gogy, I would probably not know how to engage children. forest educator is not well-paid for generating a separate Sixteen foresters already have a bachelor‘s pedagogical full income. Thanks to these facts, it is not appropriate education obtained in college. Four of them are currently to expect the forester to perceive Forest Pedagogy as studying vocational subjects or leisure-time education. a profession, but rather as a hobby, especially in the post- Foresters who are interested in further pedagogical edu- communist countries where Forest Pedagogy does not cation are those for whom Forest Pedagogy takes up more have such a tradition. than half of their working time. Foresters who provide Forest Pedagogy activities beyond their work duties, do not consider the further pedagogical study. However, 3.2.3 Raison d‘etre for Forest Pedagogy they all agree that the basics of pedagogy, psychology, and didactics are desirable. Otherwise, this would affect The vast majority of forest educators say this is due to the quality of the programmes. the variety and creativity of their profession. They praise not to have office work, duties are diverse, and the job brings satisfaction. There are considerable differences 3.1.3 Free-time pedagogy between countries. Forest educators from Austria state that although Most forest educators have been interested in nature, in their country forest education courses are open to experiential education, and children since their youth, all interested, only a graduate with forestry education as head of children‘s camps, Scout, or another organiza- receive the certificate and only the certificate holder can tion. One answer for all: As a child, I liked going to summer be financially supported. camps in the countryside, and I am glad that I can bring Polish forest educators report that at least one full- this hobby to my job as well. Most of the respondents (46) time forest educator is available at each forest administra- have tacit knowledge in organizing leisure and free-time tion in Poland and offers four follow-up programmes for activities. each season. The average Polish Baccalaureate attends, on average, thirty Forest Pedagogy lessons. It may affect young people in the future on Forest Pedagogy. 3.2. What influenced the decision to become Estonians are considered “forest nation” and want to a forest educator raise awareness about the forest among the public, espe- cially in preschool children, and find many candidates Only a third of the foresters (17) carried out this activity interested during the Forest Weeks. on a full-time basis and had to leave their existing post. Foresters from Finland are also motivated by mate- The others focus on the main content of the work, such rial reasons: there are many forest owners in Finland, as forest recreational function, forest protection, or for- and every sixth schoolchild is expected to own the forest est management, so their pedagogical activities take up in the future, so children should be informed about it. only part of their working time. Respondents often spend To educate the schoolchild, efforts to engage teachers free time preparing Forest Pedagogy activities and do it and so the Finnish Forestry Association, together with beyond their job, in many cases for free or for a symbolic teachers, created publications and websites to support allowance only. Especially the statements of the Czech teaching at schools. and Slovak forest educators show that the management The situation in the Czech Republic is significantly of forest enterprises prefers non-pedagogical content of different. A frequently mentioned reason for forest educa- work. tors from the Czech Republic is the possibility to “clarify” the forestry and forester‘s reputation negatively affected by media and to provide nature-oriented upbringing and 3.2.1 Previous employment awareness-raising. Forest Pedagogy is one of the ways to The previous job position remains, and educational activ- attract people to the forest and also to improve the image ity is included in addition. The scenario prevails, where of forestry. A curious reason for being a forest educator foresters participated in environmental and leisure activi- was mentioned by one female, who received the answer ties (Scout, Forest Pedagogy course) and the supervisor to the question: “Who is the most significant pest in the 17 K. Machackova / Cent. Eur. For. J. 67 (2021) 14–20 forest?” Answer: Forester. It was precisely the moment what was happening around. Many forest educators have lost their expectations about the basic knowledge of the when she decided to change the image of forestry in the public about forest and nature and the respect that people eyes of the general public in the Czech Republic. should have for nature. 3.3. Perception of Forest Pedagogy 3.3.2 The idea of an ideal forest educator Distinctions between countries are evident. Each forest The final question of the interview concerns the char - educator devotes to Forest Pedagogy and educational acteristics, abilities, experience, and education of ideal programmes in another way and has different time and forest educator should have. Two streams of opinion financial support, which are based on how a particular emerge from the respondents’ answers. Twenty-seven forestry enterprise approaches Forest Pedagogy. would appreciate practising Forest Pedagogy at full-time: I would have time to refresh content, innovate games, have more scope and support. Collaboration with schools could 3.3.1 Pros and Cons of Forest Pedagogy be planned and implemented in the long term without the All respondents agreed that the most considerable advan- risk of any other event interfering with the plan. tage of Forest Pedagogy is the possibility to get people However, the other half (25) of forest educators into the countryside, to familiarize them with the forest strongly disagree with this and believe that foresters environment, what is in line with Forest Pedagogy goals should only do this part-time. They are satise fi d that they (Harkabus & Marušáková 2007). Forest educators can do not have to do educational plans every day and are arrange the programmes, be it a theme, games, activities, engaged in other activities, and Forest Pedagogy does or a place to go and appreciate having contact with new not become a routine matter. There is also an opinion people and the possibility of self-education, socialization, that: Forest educator is not an independent profession and and self-realization. They mostly appreciate attending should not be in the future. It is something in addition to seminars, lectures, and meetings organized for forest the professional forest focus. educators where they can learn and inspire. Young female forest educators expect to gain experience and skills in activities with children in nature, which they can use in 4. Discussion raising their kids. They see what today-kids are missing. Forest educators are introduced as professional foresters Half of the forest educators prepare programmes and with pedagogical education gained by a particular course materials during free time. Almost half of the respondents (Cornell 1991; Bolay & Reichle 2007). There is no rel- regret not to have sufficient financial or moral support evant article or study that would examine in more detail at their employers. Forest educators, especially from the the reasons and motives of foresters, why they voluntar- former post-communist states, repeatedly complained ily and despite the low funding undertake pedagogical that the public does not appreciate their work and con- courses so that they can act as teachers of their kind. siders it inferior. Many professional foresters look at The paper aimed to identify why foresters enter the their colleagues with absolute disrespect. They consider educational process and if their intrinsic motivation is Forest Pedagogy to be entertainment only. Another dis- based on the subconscious level of Deep Ecology think- advantage is that forest educator has no chance to get ing. Interviews showed that foresters have a specific per- to know the children accurately in a short period, and sonal framework of values related to human and nature cannot cooperate with them in contrast to regular leisure issues. For forest educators, ecology is not just a theory activities or school lessons. but a deep conviction. They are probably not even aware, To respond to the question of whether the foresters their stance to life reflects a deep ecological feeling that lost something in carrying out their educational activities, has roots in A. Naesse’s conception. Forest educators try embarrassing answers were received. Some admit that to pass on the depth of knowledge and experience, live this activity deprives them of illusions, mainly of teach- in nature and with nature, not just visit it. They show the ers’ cooperation with them and how some teachers treat public how to move in the forest without consequences, children and foresters. Following are presented the words respecting all life forms, not just those beautiful, remark- of one forester: I think that teachers are afraid to “hand able, or useful. They teach not to use living beings only over” their pupils to us as if they are afraid of losing control as a resource; leading to the recognition of their intrinsic and power. Sometimes the teacher comes in a bad mood, value. Forest educators protect the forest ecosystem as a and his current mental state is unfortunately passed on whole, not just individual life forms and show that peo- to children. They are then bored, and it is complicated ple living in urban areas can be connected with nature to master the discipline. This experience was repeated: even in a disturbed environment, as parts of green can be When several classes came at the same time, the teachers found everywhere. The ideas of Deep Ecology are based stood apart and talked among themselves and showed no on these rudiments (Naess 1989, 1993). interest in the pupils. I was then very disappointed that Why do foresters engage in education despite many the teachers wrote a critical assessment, not even knowing obstacles, misunderstandings and inadequate funding? 18 K. Machackova / Cent. Eur. For. J. 67 (2021) 14–20 One of the reasons is the general effort of foresters to forum share their experiences of the forest. The growing explain objectively the distorted information dissemi- ability to recognize the signs of upcoming changes in the nated by the media relating the bark beetle calamity. All forest that children would report to the forester could be the foresters addressed agree that they have the honour regarded as an added value. The looming negative phe- to carry out highly professional activities for nature and nomena in the forest can thus be identified and resolved future generations and do it with enthusiasm, even if at the beginning. Even if only one child is enthusiastic the result of their effort is difficult to measure. Foresters about this idea, it would be a signic fi ant help to foresters, believe their activities have a deeper meaning. Interest, who, due to the scale of their activities, may not always a positive attitude to nature, and self-realization force be able to detect all changes in their district immediately. them to go forward. Their job offers an opportunity for the This way of teaching could help and solve the problem initiative, responsibility, and knowledge growth. Forest- even for teachers who do not support outdoor activities. ers consider their calling essential and are willing to devote to it, although they often do not get extra money for their 5. Conclusion endeavour. The profession of forest educator has a psycho- logical-ethical moment-the chance to educate someone Involving professionals into education is desirable and else is perceived as a reward. Forest educators consider as beneficial-due to the differences between learning about a substantial intrinsic value of the job to broaden horizons versus learning from an expert (Berliner 2001; Guskey & for someone else and to expand the moral compass. The Yoon 2009). Children are not passive recipients only, they above is consistent with the motives of intrinsic motiva- are often the initiators of new manners, and by constitut- tion presented by Dieblová (2005). ing their relationship to nature, it is realistic to expect the Forest educators understand the context of nature effect that is secondarily transmitted on parents. very well, their tacit knowledge goes beyond school text- The involvement of forest educators in distance teach- books of natural history, and they could be a functional ing will be the theme of further research survey, where link between the public and the natural ecosystem. Based the Experimental group (online tuition with forest educa- on strong inner convictions and enthusiasm, it is recom- tor) would be compared with the Control group (distance mended to involve them in school curricula to provide education by the teacher) through a didactic test. transmission of knowledge and experience to children. 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Forestry Journal – de Gruyter
Published: Mar 1, 2021
Keywords: Arne Naess; ecosophy; education for the 21st century; Forest Pedagogy online; Wengraf Pyramid model
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