Painting trees in the wind: socio-material ambiguity and sustainability politics in early childhood education with refugee children in Denmark

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In this article, we explore new materialist ‘common world’ approaches to early childhood environmental and sustainability education and the ambition of these approaches to challenge social-material and nature-culture dichotomies often taken for granted in Western education systems. Firstly, we point out the socio-cultural inequalities inherent in taken-for-granted approaches to children and nature in Denmark, and argue that attention to children’s relationships with the more-than-human should not overshadow the consideration of socio-cultural inequalities and social justice agendas; rather, these should be seen as fundamentally linked. Secondly, while we support a greater attention towards children’s experiences of living with other beings in entangled, enmeshed common worlds, we nevertheless argue against completely erasing or overlooking the extent to which these experiences are also intertwined with experiences of being separated from the world. Acknowledging the fundamental ambiguity of simultaneous immersion in, and detachment from, the world, we propose, is of key importance in terms of becoming able to take action for social and ecological sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Issue number9-10
Pages (from-to)1406-1419
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • learning, educational science and teaching
  • children and youth

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