Pre-Service Teachers in the Outdoors: A Phenomenological Exploration


  • Josie Melton Western Washington University



While a child’s sense of wonder is thought to come naturally, less is known about how adults foster or connect with their sense of wonder.  For the purposes of this exploration, wonder is the openness that comes when one dwells with the present moment, allowing questions to arise, rather than using wonder as a tool to answer a question (Gadamer, 2004; van Manen, 2014).  Spending time in the outdoors is a common way to engage wonder, but there may be differences in the ways adults experience their surroundings compared to children.  If teachers or parents aim to foster a child’s sense of wonder then it is important to understand how adults experience and connect to the outdoors so they can model and promote the connection for children.  This paper explores the experiences of adults in the outdoors in order to better understand the barriers and paths that may lead to wonder.  Five anecdotes from outdoor experiences are phenomenologically analyzed to better understand the lived experience of adults in the outdoors.  Themes from the anecdotes are discussed, as well as the implications for teacher education programs.