Walking as an ecopedagogy: a school practice example

Ms Genevieve Blades2, Ms Lisa Hall1
1Castlemaine Steiner School, Castlemaine, Australia; 2La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia


This presentation conceptualizes walking as/in spatialities of embodied and environmental learning and applies it as an ecopedagogy of walking. These spatialities extend the interpretation and understanding of walking in/through movement in relation to a wandering ethics of sensibility, affectivities and meaning-making with/in nature.

Consideration of the ‘eco’ is both a priority and emphasis that involves more than placing the ‘eco’ as a prefix to pedagogy. As an approach to environmental learning, ecopedagogy is grounded in the nature of walking as an embodied practice. This walking practice is also grounded in nature, with nature at the centre that reflects nature-human relations and interactions as priorities. Enacted in this way, a walking ecopedagogy emphasises the materiality and intercorporeality of human and other-than human interactions in nature(s) walked.

An example of a walking ecopedagogy in practice that has present these wandering ethics and experientially grounded approach to curriculum design and practice, is illustrated in this presentation by a three-day walk conducted by the Castlemaine Steiner School. Class 6 students walk from school, following a local watercourse where they wander and explore the various nature(s). The presentation will provide examples of the curriculum design and implementation. Vignettes of student engagement and learning are incorporated in this practice example of a walking ecopedagogy.

Arguably, the orthodox pedagogy of bushwalking in outdoor education reflects commodified and standardised logics derived from Industry standards that emphasise body–environment relations of performativity. This presentation has implications that view walking as far richer and as an expression of immanent movement between humans–and–other–than–humans–beings–in–nature.

Genevieve Blades has taught and researched both in Schools and at the Tertiary level over a period of thirty years. Her areas of interest include environmental values and ethics, outdoor environmental eco-pedagogies, cultural responses to Australian land, and sustainability education. A walking ecopedagogy was the focus of her PhD study.

Lisa Hall organises the outdoor education programme at the Castlemaine Steiner School in Victoria. She develops and implements all aspects of the programme in consultation with class teachers. Lisa is committed to student centred learning that is meaningfully situated in local places. Lisa also teaches horticulture at the school.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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