Monday, 30 September 2019

What is a Bush Kinder?

What is Bush Kinder?  Why is it called Bush Kinder?

Bush Kinder is a term that was coined at Westgarth Kindergarten, Victoria Australia.
I was clear that we where not a forest school, nature kindergarten or any other established program. A new name gave us freedom to do and be what we wanted.
We were building our own unique program for our children, The intention was that our model would have the strength to stand up to academic, pedagogical and regulatory scrutiny. The hope was that our work would inspire and inform others. 
A lot of thought went into the title Bush Kinder.  
It was clearly Australian yet paid homage to international programs. The name clearly drew upon the Northern European label’s - Forest School, Forest Kindergarten titles in common usage at the time. It gave people something they could relate to.
An Australian title meant we could look at ‘us’- our Westgarth us,our NQS us, our Aboriginal us, and all of our uniqueness.
Bush was chosen for many reasons. Bush represented a physical place – a natural space. More significantly it represented a spiritual, cultural and emotional space. Similarly phrases like - “going bush” “bush ballad” “bush tucker” and “what do you think it is, bush week?”  each use bush in a way that goes beyond a place. 
Kinder was chosen for a few reasons. Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten, promoted nature as the model of perfection in the education of children. ‘Kinder’ was the local vernacular and it seemed fitting to use the word. ‘Kinder’ is the German word for child. ‘Kinder’ as an adjective has a meaning of showing friendly and good nature [evidence informed us that this was the case when children spent time in nature]. 
When the words were together as Bush Kinder they represented further things. They demonstrated a view that these children would be ‘kinder to the bush’ a view of environmental sustainability again supported by evidence.
The growth of what has become a bush kinder movement has lead to terms that pay homage to bush kinder: bush playgroup, bush kindergarten, bush kindy, bush school.
Doug Fargher


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