University of Cambridge > > Arts, Culture and Education > 'I was born in a cat’s cave.' Working with authorship and imagination in early childhood outdoor learning

'I was born in a cat’s cave.' Working with authorship and imagination in early childhood outdoor learning

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ewa Illakowicz.

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The forest has always been a place of stories and transformation, one of our most narrated and mysterious lands. In this seminar we present insights, experience, and provocative questions from recent projects in which nursery and reception age children, educators, carers, and creative practitioners from Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination worked together to explore the imaginative and dramatic power of the woods. We offer a practice which connects experiences in the wild to enquiries and meaning-making in the classroom, and project examples which reveal the outdoors as
  • a place to develop early communication and literacy
  • a space for intricate non-verbal narratives
  • a stage for power, physical daring, and narratives of bravery
  • a context for questioning educational relationships and values. We invite you to consider the fundamental role of children’s own storying in their social, emotional, and intellectual development, and to re-vision education as a process of exchange between powerful and fluent protagonists.

Deb Wilenski is a woodland/outdoor projects leader, Early Childhood educator and consultant, and creative practitioner working with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination and Sightlines Initiative. She is inspired by the work of the preschools and infant-toddler centres of Reggio Emilia, the woodland nurseries of Europe and Scandinavia, and by projects which value children as makers of culture and meaning. Kate Cowan is a doctoral student at the Institute of Education, University of London, focusing on multimodal methodologies for working with video, and its use in Early Years classrooms. Her previous research at the University of Cambridge explored young children’s communication and representation from a multimodal perspective, drawing upon the approach of Reggio Emilia. Kate spent several years teaching at a Nursery school in Cambridge, during which time she coordinated a woodland project in collaboration with CCI .

This talk is part of the Arts, Culture and Education series.

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