(Re)framing Outdoor Play: ‘Snakes, Scorpions and Sand …oh My’


This paper is situated within the expanding body of research in Early Childhood Education (ECE), that suggests a shift away from dominant romanticized discourses of developmentalist theories of early childhood learning about the natural world. Turning to posthumanism, we work with ECE teachers, pedagogy and culture to explore the ‘desert school’ encounters within the non-human, and more-than-human worlds. Situated in a posthuman framework, the re-searchers discuss how one international school within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has pioneered a ‘forest school’ approach, creating what could be described as a ‘desert school’. The study sought to gain a deeper understanding about what the school has achieved in terms of setting up the project and how they have adapted the forest school philosophy of learning to their outdoor environment. As sand is the typical natural environment where the school is situated, the children have direct access to an abundance of sand during the ‘desert school’ provision. This allows for children to intra-act with the material world through the natural world. Although it differs from the traditional notions of the ‘forest school’, natural resources specific to the desert environment are used within the ‘desert school’. However, educational risk assessments in desert schools are qualitatively different due to the specific nature of the desert environment. You could argue there are many more dangerous animals tempted to settle in a desert school site than in a traditional forest school (with the exception of bears).

Author Information
Lindsay Schofield, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
Rachel Takriti, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
Elaine Wright, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
Najwa Alhosani, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2022
Stream: Teaching Experiences

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon