Unplanning Research with a Curious Practice Methodology: Emergence of Childrenforest in the Context of Finland

Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter explores the notion of curious practice and the methodology of its application in the context of primary school education in Finland. The concept of curious practice encourages us – researchers and educators – to ask “How does curious practice help us to address children’s relations to forests beyond the child (in) nature dualism?” Curious practice challenges the existing environmental education methodologies employed in recent years that draw heavily on research planning, the child’s representation of nature, and the results of a completed study. Despret’s (Domesticating practices: The case of Arabian Babblers. In G. Marvin and S. McHugh (Eds.), Routledge handbook of human–animal studies (pp. 23–38). New York: Routledge, 2014) approach of curious practice encourages researchers to unplan and make themselves available to the yet unknown, for every single encounter with the other is a mixture of unpredictability, the researcher’s attentiveness, and imagination. The rationale behind curious practice is in learning more about what is seen and heard via questioning the encounters that accept various absences of a preconceived framework of research. As a necessary complement to such a methodology, the chapter also presents a semiotic approach, employed by Eduardo Kohn (How forests think: Toward an anthropology beyond the human. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), to inform the method of studying the logic of the world beyond human symbolism. The data used reveal an interdependency of children and forests that will be referred to as childrenforest in that it continuously generates a network of signs which adults and children themselves often are unable to access or represent. These present absences found in curious practice are crucial for our understanding of what we have overlooked while claiming that the other is known. With that, however, childrenforest cannot be fully grasped. Andrew Pickering’s (Natures Sciences Sociétés, 1(21), 77–83, 2013) notion of islands of stability is utilized to elaborate the ways that childrenforests signal the presence of the seemingly stable configurations of their dynamic becoming. The chapter concludes with a short discussion of the potential areas of curious practice application beyond the ethological and childhood research.


Curious practice Despret Islands of stability Semiosis of childrenforest Reals Unplanning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Paul Hart
    • 1
  • Phillip Payne
    • 2
  1. 1.Science EducationUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  2. 2.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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