This paper recounts a workshop that took place in a polytunnel in a forest school in Sligo, North-West Ireland on a cold day in early-December. The event sought to materialize ‘arboreal methodologies’ (Osgood, 2019; Osgood & Odegard, 2022; Osgood & Axelsson, 2023) which are characterized by the enactment of feminist new materialist praxis to engage in world-making practices (Haraway, 2008) intended to unsettle recognizable tropes of biophilia that have come to frame both child and nature in narrow ways. The arboreal methodologies that participants were invited to mobilise were situated, material, affective, and involved metaphorical and material practices of ‘getting lost’. The workshop invited a sense of wonder at the ways arboreal methodologies might offer possibilities to confront human exceptionalism and wrestle with our complex, often contradictory relationships to ‘nature’. The approach taken involves methodologies without method (Koro-Ljunberg, 2016) to bring speculative, embodied encounters in the forest, together with unlikely tales of how forests work on and through us. We pursue a critical, tentacular engagement with the forest and take seriously its potential to agitate familiarity and strangeness, wonder and fear, nature and culture. In this paper we re-encounter embodied becomings-with the forest to think and sense other ways to take life in the Plantationocene (Tsing, 2015) seriously.

Author Biography

Dr. Jayne Osgood

Dr. Jayne Osgood, PhD is Professor of Childhood Studies at the Centre for Education Research & Scholarship, Middlesex University, UK; and she also holds a Professor II post at Hogskolen i Innlandet, Norway. Her feminist approach to research is framed by critical posthumanism and an enduring commitment to address inequities of all kinds. She has published extensively in the post- paradigms with over 100 publications in the form of papers, chapters and books. Jayne also has various Editorial roles including the journals Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology and Gender & Education; and two book series for Bloomsbury (Feminist Thought in Childhood Research; & Postdevelopmental Approaches to Childhood) and a further series for Springer (Key Thinkers in Education).

Suzanne Axelsson

Suzanne Axelsson works as a pedagogical consultant using experience, inspiration and research in listening, philosophy with children and Indigenous Knowledge to guide creating democratic learning and play spaces in early childhood education. She works on the EY program at the Department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University, as well as in preschools with children and educators. Suzanne has a Masters in ECE and has travelled globally to hold workshops, presentations, and visit EY settings. She writes about play, listening, neurodiversity, and sustainability on her blog.

Dr Tamsin Cavaliero

Dr. Tamsin Cavaliero is a Lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences at ATU Sligo. Her research interests include Creative Methodologies, Educational Inclusion, Groupwork, Sustainability and, Traveller and Roma Communities. Prior to taking up her lecturing post she worked in practice in a in a variety of posts with Traveller Youth in both formal and informal educational settings and was involved in arts-based projects with Travellers. Tamsin is a trained Graphic Facilitator regularly involved in Graphic Facilitation work which focuses on family support, youth participation, inclusive research practices, social prescribing and counselling.

Dr. Máire Hanniffy

Dr. Máire Hanniffy is a sociology and groupwork lecturer on a number of programmes including the B.Ed in Early Education and Care, the BA in Sociology and Politics and the MA in Social Work at ATU Sligo. Her research interests include Groupwork, Childhood, Social and Ecological Justice, and Teaching and Learning. Most recently, Máire was part of the project team for the ‘Head, Hands, Heart Embedding Climate Concerns in the Social Sciences’ project. This project aimed to promote transdisciplinary learning in relation to socio-ecological crises, with a focus on building approaches for social and ecological justice, and resilient and flourishing communities.

Dr Susan McDonnell

Dr Susan McDonnell is a sociologist and lecturer in the Department of Social Science at ATU Sligo, Ireland, engaged in visual, creative and participatory feminist approaches to teaching, learning and research. Her research to date has been concerned with childhood, race and migration, while recent work focuses on exploring pedagogies for possible futures in the context of climate breakdown. Prior to joining ATU Sligo in 2007, Susan worked as an artist/ facilitator in a range of community contexts.


This collaborative piece draws upon collective expertise and experiences of Jayne Osgood, Suzanne Axelsson, Tamsin Cavaliero, Maire Hanniffy and Susan McDonnell as they embraced what getting lost in a forest school might make possible as we consider our human place within the world.



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