Environmental Education and Play in Swedish and Australian Early Childhood Curriculum: a Synthesis

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Environmental education and play in Swedish and Australian early childhood curriculum. Environmental education and play are two important facets of both Swedish and Australian early childhood curriculum. Sandberg and Arlemalm-Hagser (2011) provide us with an overview of the Swedish curriculum, the current landscape of environmental education and the place of play in environment curriculum. An Australian perspective is demonstrated by Edwards and Cutter-Mackenzie who examines domestic responses to environment curriculum in early childhood settings and the importance of play in this context. A synthesis of both accounts provides us with an overview of environmental education across the two nations and the way in which place of play in the curriculum. Sandberg and Arlemalm-Hagser (2011) argue that Swedish early childhood education is influenced by sociocultural theory with a child-centred focus. Values of Swedish society are transmitted through the curriculum with sustainable development featured. Children are stakeholders because they are citizens and future leaders. Learning for sustainable development is implemented via the Pedagogical Programme for the Preschool which was adopted in 1987 which aims to promote environmental awareness.

A key difference between the Swedish and Australian stances on environmental education is that Swedish curriculum explicitly refers to the concept as “learning for sustainable development” while the Australian documents use terminology such as “environmental education.” Sweden makes it clear that the purpose of environmental education is to equip children with tools and dispositions to address sustainability as adults. The Australian perspective may appear to have more emphasis on biodiversity and appreciation of outdoor environments, however Edwards and Cutter-Mackenzie point out that sustainability is dealt with through one indicator of the EYLF’s Learning Outcome Two which states: ” (children) develop an...
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