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Students being transformed into trees: inverted anthropomorphization in order to enhance connectedness to natural environments and plants

Kapitel i bok
Författare Margaretha Häggström
Publicerad i Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene. Julie Reiss (Ed.)
ISBN 978-1-62273-436-8
Förlag Vernon Press
Förlagsort New York
Publiceringsår 2019
Publicerad vid Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession
Språk en
Länkar https://vernonpress.com/book/492
Ämnesord Anthropomorphization, Anthropocene, Natural Environments, Transformative learning, Aesthetic learning
Ämneskategorier Bildkonst, Pedagogiskt arbete, Lärande, Didaktik, Utbildningsvetenskap


The modern (western) way of living and continuously endeavoring to improve living standards has led to the geological epoch the Anthropocene, framed by Crutzen and Stoermer at the beginning of this millennium. Evidently, we cannot continue to carry on along these lines. Transformative learning enables changes in attitude and challenges fixed patterns of thinking. Such changes are dependent on critical thinking and self-reflecting on one’s experiences, understandings and beliefs. Ecological aesthetic education may play a key role in activating change. Ecological art is based on ecological ethics and systems theory, emphasizing the intertwined relationships between biological, physical, political, historical and cultural aspects of ecosystems. Ecological artists encourage a respectful and caring approach regarding the earth while stimulating dialogue and social-cultural transformations. Art can be considered as transformative learning that may change one’s identity building and bring new perspectives on how to live and how to act, thus art may offer other learning pathways based on sensitive and passionate explorative involvement. Meeting with natural environments and the more-than-human world could offer one way to manage the environmental concerns we face today. I will argue that childhood and adolescence in the Anthropocene is rooted in the significance of kinship with other organisms. In the quest for an inclusive and more optimistic environmental research I would like to highlight the role of education and in particular the process of transformative learning. Combining art with environmental issues and science could be a fruitful learning pathway for compulsory schools as well as in higher education. In this chapter, children’s connection with the non-human world, in particular the connection with plants is focused. In order to prevent plant blindness, i.e. the inability to see, identify, comprehend and appreciate plants and their functions in the biosphere , two teachers decided to change and develop their teaching through an ecological literacy approach. They planned and designed a Storyline with the aim of giving their students opportunities to discover plants’ intrinsic value by meeting with trees and slowly becoming trees. The aim here is to highlight the students’ experiences of a six-week-long Storyline with the intention of creating relations with trees through the experiences of woodlands.

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