‘Winter children’ : an ethnographically inspired study of children being-and-becoming well-versed in snow and ice
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonSanderud, J. R., Gurholt, K. P., & Moe, V. F. (2019). ‘Winter children’: an ethnographically inspired study of children being-and-becoming well-versed in snow and ice. Sport, Education and Society, 25(8), 960-971. 10.1080/13573322.2019.1678124
For many children living in Northern and mountainous regions of the world, playing in snow is enticing and connotes childhood for many adults. Even so, researchers have paid little attention to children’s play in/with snow and ice. This paper aims to contribute to the growing knowledge on children’s competencies and child-nature relationships by exploring how a group of children build their understanding of themselves and their environment during playful explorations in demanding winter landscapes. The study is framed by (1) a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach, (2) an analysis of selected evocative empirical examples of ways children play in/with winter materials, and (3) perspectives on ‘Bildung’ as dialectical processes of being-and-becoming. Data were generated through ethnographically inspired fieldwork, including 20 children aged four to six, in a Norwegian Nature Kindergarten, emphasizing children’s self-initiated outdoor play as educationally important. The fieldwork was conducted in 2018 during the coldest time of the year and draws on participant observation, children’s photographs and on-site conversations. The study is inspired by the work of [Ingold, T. (2011). Being alive. Oxon: Routledge], [Merleau-Ponty, M. (2012). Phenomenology of perception. London: Routledge], [Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates], and the Continental European philosophy of Bildung [Biesta, G. (2002). Bildung and modernity: The future of Bildung in a world of difference. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 21(4–5), 343–351] and applies Ingold’s concepts of ‘lines’, ‘knots’ and ‘dwelling’, to explore children’s playful movements and experiences along lines in an ever-evolving meshwork. Three themes are analyzed. First, the ever-transforming qualities of snow and ice are discussed as existential materials and cultural conditions in the children’s dialectical process of being-and-becoming. Second, the kindergarten’s snow-covered playground is seen as attractive and challenging from the children’s perspective. Third, as the children increase their competence in the dynamic winter environment through movement, they embody existential knowledge and skills about the socio-material context of which they are a part. Thus, they familiarize themselves with their environment as being-and-becoming winter children.
This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Sport, Education and Society: Sanderud, J. R., Gurholt, K. P., & Moe, V. F. (2019). ‘Winter children’: an ethnographically inspired study of children being-and-becoming well-versed in snow and ice. Sport, Education and Society, 25(8), 960-971.