Barn i natur och natur i barn: en diskursanalys av texter om utomhuspedagogik och uteförskola.

Öhrfelt, M.S.
Malmö Studies in Educational SciencesLicentiate Dissertation Series 2015:38.


In Sweden, the pedagogical practices of outdoor preschools (uteförskola)are often viewed as ideal, idyllic and obvious. Outdoor preschools are therefore rarely viewed from a critical perspective. This study wishes to examine the circumstances surrounding this viewpoint by focusing in particular on how these viewpoints are constructed through language. In this manner, the author attempts to discuss and problematise this idealised picture of outdoor preschools.


Based on the results of the study, the author concludes that outdoor preschools (uteförskola) are a phenomenon many institutions and stakeholders seek to influence. Swedish outdoor preschools are therefore often seen as an obvious answer to many of the educational challenges of today. This calls for a critical view of how our views are influenced by language.

The results of the study are based on four identified discourses: (1) discourses about play and development, learning and child-rearing, (2) health discourse, (3) gender discourse and (4) environmental and sustainability discourse. According to the author, these discourses construct our understanding of children's connection to nature. The mentioned discourses also exist in previous research and political strategies, but their content seems to have changed over time. Based on this, the study's analysis shows that the Swedish outdoor pedagogy has changed from within, even though it still looks the same om the surface.


This paper is a document study of two key texts regarding Swedish outdoor preschools: ‘Ute på dagis. Hur använder barn daghemsgården? Utformningen av daghemsgården och dess betydelse för lek, motorik och koncentrationsförmåga’ (Outdoors at the preschool. How do children use the playground area at the preschool? Design of playgrounds and their role in play, motor skills and ability to concentrate) and ‘Naturförskola: Lärande för hållbar utveckling’ (Outdoor preschool: Learning for sustainable development). The texts, which were published in 1997 and 2011, were selected in order to identify some of the rationales that influence the area of education and thereby the context of Swedish outdoor preschools. The theory and method applied rest on discourse analysis, enabling examination of the various functions of language. 


Öhrfelt, M.S. (2015). Barn i natur och natur i barn: en diskursanalys av texter om utomhuspedagogik och uteförskola. Malmö Studies in Educational Sciences Licentiate Dissertation Series 2015:38.

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