Deep nature connection: Intentional ways of ‘teaching’ through experience

Dr Heidi A Smith1, Mr David Hayward2

1University Of Tasmania, 2St Patrick’s College

Across Australia, the many forms of learning outside including outdoor education, outdoor recreation, environmental education, and adventure education have, to varying degrees, identified the importance of ‘nature connection’ as a core goal for outdoor learning. In recent times, a call for a stronger focus on human nature relationships, developing connection to place and nature, and place based pedagogy in outdoor education has been consistent across the outdoor education literature. Until now, what has been present in the literature is the need for nature connection and what has been absent, is the how, how to go about explicitly teaching nature connection and the subsequent experiences of educators and students that result. Through the use of personal narratives and direct experiences of activities, this workshop shares the ‘What?’ of one educator’s personal experience of incorporating deep nature connection activities, to intentionally teach deep nature connection to pre-service outdoor education teachers/leaders on a wilderness field experience. ‘So What?’  The student experience is shared in terms of deep nature connection through engaging with the unit including the extended wilderness field experience.  ‘Now What?’ Opportunities for discussion and sharing of ideas/activities that have achieved connection to nature in participants will conclude the session. Come prepared to be actively involved in activities and share practice.


Heidi Smith is Lecturer in outdoor learning and teacher education professional studies at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests include outdoor learning, leadership, nature connection, web technologies in education and improving quality of 21st Century learning and teaching practice.

David Hayward graduated in 2016 with Honours in Bachelor of Education (Outdoor Education and Design and Technology). He has a growing interest in increasing his understanding of human nature relationships and how to teach this through researching student experience.

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