Reconnection Rationale

The above, handwritten inscription in The Unfolding - Living Structures very neatly summarises why I choose this artist's book as a resource for Education for Sustainability, in particular the issue of Disconnection with Nature, which as previously discussed, is at the heart of why we need Education for Sustainability.

Roos is not only promoting the idea of Biophilia as a solution but through his work provides a map for what this could look like. The combination of photographs and discussion gives a transparency to his process and inspires the viewer to make their own connections to nature. 

The Ocean Grove Nature Reserve is a 1.43 Km2, an easily accessible pocket of nature located on the outskirts of Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Peninsula, an area that has long been recognised for its pristine coastlines. The Nature Reserve has "been identified as an area of outstanding environmental and cultural significance to be protected under the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes Program." (Parks Victoria 2022) 

Over recent years the reserve has seen an increase in visitors, particularly during the pandemic, and provides a base for a number of local bush-kinder and bush-playgroup programs. As such many local students come to school with a preexisting connection to the Nature Reserve. The hope is that by building on a preexisting connect it will allow students to have a deeper and stronger connection to the immersive excursion experience. 

As previously stated by focusing on reconnection I hope to provide students with hope for a sustainable future. Smith (2009) claims that the "Great Work of our time is to raise human consciousness to see itself in harmony with the whole creation as an integral part of the Earth Community. Rather than “lord it over” the other life forms, be in respectful interdependence with them." The work of Dr Phillip B Roos is worked based on hope, work that seeks to find solutions to the crisis that the earth is facing.

Roos begins his book with "An urgent Call" claiming that the very foundation of humanity is in danger and goes on to argue that "if we deeply connect with the land" and invites us to join him on a journey of "re-connecting with nature that can help us become whole." (2022:18) Using this as a basis for learning experiences for students in grades 3 and 4 is passing on the invitation to students and making it accessible. 

In addition to this Roos is a non-Indigenous person who has embraced working on country and does so in a way that honours Indigenous knowledge systems and pays respect to the deep connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have to this land. We talking about reconnecting to nature in Australia it would be impossible to do so without this acknowledgment. This is an embodiment of an idea put forward by Indigenous Educator Anne Marshall that states "in a sense, all people can be considered to be 'indigenous' to the places where they live." and goes on to urge Australian teachers to assist young people to of all cultural background to connect to Country. (Donelan 2017:45)

The cross-curriculum priorities of Sustainability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures are intricately linked, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived on this land for at least 60 000 years and they did so in harmony with nature. "One of the fundamental differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is the understanding between people and land." (Pascoe 2019:209) It is with this understanding that I planned the above lesson which is ultimately a lesson in connecting to country to enable students to feel that nature is not just something we visit but who we are.

Connection to place or place-based pedagogy allows students to develop a sense of place and forms part of how students understand the world around them "it can help them to reimagine their relationship with the natural and cultural communities they live in." (Judson 2018:8) An important yet easily overlooked component of this learning experience is the walk to the waterholes, this is not just an everyday, but a sensory walk that demands both teachers and students to be particularly observant of the place they are moving through. In many ways it is a mindfulness walk, by reminding students to be extra aware of their surroundings their sense of inquiry is stimulated, opening up for deeper wonderings and questioning about the world at large. Recent research from Stockholm University "found that engagement with the senses in nature was the most effective way of enabling people to value nature." (Cree & Robb 2021:93)

Making art directly in nature is of course as old as humanity and another strong Indigenous practice but it also allows students to develop a deeper understanding of what art is, to remove art from the art room and to take away the bright colours of acrylic paint bottles allows for a different art-making experience that in many ways is more authentic as the materials of the place become part of the art the connection becomes undeniable. "This way of knowing is embodied and involves the senses perception, mind/body, action and reaction." (Dinham 2020:31) 

Allowing for meaning-making in this way is empowering for students, when their explorations and discoveries are encouraged and celebrated students' sense of authentic self is developed and this enables growth in self-confidence and self-esteem. (Dinham 2020:32) By combining these benefits with Biophilia, our innate desire to connect with nature (LFIA 2022) and the documented positive benefits of spending time in nature (Robbins 2020) this immersive art-making excursion not only covers many curriculum areas, including the cross-curriculum priority of Sustainability but provides students wellbeing event.


Cree J & Robb M (2021) The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy, Routledge, UK

Dinham J (2020) Delivering Authentic Arts Education, 4th edn, Cenage, Australia

Donelan K (2017) 'Arts Education as Intercultural and Social Dialogue' in Sinclair C, Jeannette N, O'Toole J & Hunter MA, Education in the Arts, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, Australia

Judson G (2018) A Walking Curriculum: Evolving Wonder and Developing Sense of Place (K-12)Independently published (1 January 2018)

LFIA (Living Futures Institute Australia) (2022) 'What is Biophilia'

Parks Victoria (2022) Ocean Grove Nature Reserve Upgrades, 28 April 2022

Pascoe B (2019) Dark Emu, Scribe Publications, UK

Robbins J (2020) 'Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health', Yale Environment 360

Roos P B (2022) The Unfolding - Living Structures, The Live+Smart Research Laboratory, School of Architecture & Built Environment, Deakin University is association with the Papermill Gallery, Geelong

Smith C (2009) 'Reconnecting with Earth: Ecospirituality as the Missing Dimension in Spirituality and Sustainability Education' in M. de Souza et al. (eds.), International Handbook of Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing, International Handbooks of Religion and Education