This study explores the observations and perceptions of environmental education centre officers and teachers regarding children's experiences with nature. The study also explores the officers' and teachers' perceptions of the potential of using nature experiences in environmental education. A thematic analysis of data from interviews with 13 officers and 8 high school teachers in Sydney, Australia, revealed a widely held perception that children and young people have limited experience with natural settings in nature reserves and national parks. The interviewees suggested that although their students were interested in learning in natural settings, many were uncomfortable, afraid, and only had a vicarious understanding of Australian ecology, flora and fauna. The participants' view of the potential of nature experiences was twofold: nature experiences were fundamental for developing a connection with nature and establishing environmental concern, and experiences in nature facilitated ecological knowledge, which was considered to be a component of understanding and developing place identity in the Australian environment.
- outdoor learning
- environmental education
- children's and young people's experiences
- teachers' observations