In Europe, we must learn from each other's to strengthen the health, well-being, and learning of children. Many European countries, especially Italy, have experienced negative consequences of the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic. For instance, mental illness in children.
The spread of the pandemic has literally surprised our daily lives. From the pedagogical point of view, the pandemic has fed the condition of “indoorisation" (Van Bottenburg & Lotte, 2010), that is the progressive "canned life" lived by today's children, prisoners of the "techno-sphere" (Mortari, 2020). A striking example was that of Distance Learning (DAD) from primary school to subsequent school orders and Distance Educational Bonds (LEAD) regarding kindergarten, used to cope with the emergency and to ensure the continuum of the formative path. The lockdown along with the prevalence of the technical paradigm also fuels what Richard Louv calls Nature Deficit Disorder (2005), an expression that indicates the human condition in the absence of contact with nature and the source of a multitude of illnesses/problems typical of contemporary childhood; to name a few: reduction of the use of the senses, increased risk of physical and mental disorders. The potential danger of a lack of balance between indoor and outdoor school experiences results in the extinction of the experience (Louv, 2019), therefore compromising the development of authentic learning.
Aiming to investigate the “school after the pandemic" in an ethnographic field study, I aim to explore outdoor education as a pedagogical and didactic tool for the restart of the Italian school and in particular the phenomenon of Udeskole (Danish work to describe the outdoor education). Moreover, the first-hand experience in the field (as a teacher and a PhD student), while practising the Udeskole will be investigated to transfer the Udeskole from Northern Europe to the South.
The EO is presented as a very topical pedagogical proposal, in response to the lifestyles imposed by the recent pandemic. The OE can therefore be a possible way for the Italian educational restart based on significant learning, able to respond to current and future educational-social emergencies.
For those reasons, the aim is to gain deep knowledge about the theory and practice of Udeskole in Denmark, firstly during a college course for future teachers in outdoor education e secondly during participant observations within the school Danish context.
The qualitative research method used was ethnography. The link between this research method and the world of education is possible thanks to some similarities between how people learn and the ways of conducting educational research (Walford et al., 2008). In both cases, the experience assumes a significant value because it means significant every learning that is lived through an experience and the ethnographic researcher collects the data through his own experience in the field of research.
The research data was collected using the tool of participatory observation, which is an indispensable component of ethnographic research because it allows the researcher to take an active part in building new meanings and simultaneously passively observe the participants.
The research project is divided into three phases:
- Analysis of the post-pandemic Italian school context and the effects of Covid-19 on education through distance teaching and learning. Through the study and analysis of the national literature and a survey carried out on the Google Form platform, I had the opportunity to collect data and make some reflections a posteriori. The research continues outlining a possible path of experiential school restart, taking inspiration from the Danish Outdoor philosophy, which takes the name of Udeskole.
- Experiential didactic restart and inspiration from the Scandinavian outdoor Udeskole philosophy: analysis of the Danish educational context (from the point of view of the student and the teacher) and reflection on the perception of Outdoor Education on different levels: governmental, academic, and scholastic. The fieldwork took place in a Danish university college for future teachers in collaboration with UCN and Aalborg University. Through the direct frequency and thanks to the interviews with the different stakeholders, I had the opportunity to collect the data.
- The last phase of the research project has a more practical aspect. The aim is to follow the intervention of the MOVEOUT project within the Danish school context of Copenhagen. The focus is on the role of the teacher and my participation would follow the line of the ethnographic methodological research, for instance, while the research group will visit different schools and interview teachers.
This PhD project is funded by the University of Bari “Aldo Moro".