Researching perezhivanie in an environmental education program: theory, methodology and pedagogical context

This thesis investigates perezhivanie (emotional lived experiences) in the context of a narrative-based environmental education program. The investigation is organized to address three inter-related aspects of perezhivanie: (i) the theoretical roots of perezhivanie in 19th century Russian literature as well as Vygotsky’s writing, and current conceptualisations offered by contemporary scholars; (ii) the methodology appropriate to research perezhivanie as a unit of analysis that captures transformational learning for students; and (iii) the pedagogical approach that enables such transformational learning to occur during environmental experiences. 
In exploring the theory of perezhivanie I trace its roots to Leo Tolstoy (1897), rather than Vygotsky or Stanislavsky as many scholars suggest. I reveal a similarity of thinking about theory and educational practice in the writings of Tolstoy and Vygotsky. I show how Vygotsky drew on Tolstoy’s notion of perezhivanie in developing his own conceptualisation. The historical study of perezhivanie together with current scholarship will provide the foundation to understand and apply perezhivanie empirically. 

Consistent with its roots in Russian literature, theatre and drama, the preferred methodology in current research on perezhivanie involves imaginative storytelling and drama methods.  In this thesis I intend to build on such methods to highlight the processes of foreshadowing and hindsight as central to studying perezhivanie. During environmental education experiences I intend to document accounts from children of how they foreshadow changes to themselves and their relationships as a result of the program. Later in the year, I will revisit the experiences with children to document how they reflectively understand their experience in hindsight and whether it remains an influence on their thinking, feeling and sense of self in the future. In order to document such understanding I intend to follow students across time collecting their responses, representations and reflections before, during and after the environmental education program

Finally, with regard to the pedagogical focus of the thesis (as just noted above), the data collection is conducted in the context of a narrative approach that draws upon place responsive pedagogy, slow pedagogy and learning in the outdoors. I contend that this pedagogy can create transformational learning in children, and that many children will experience perezhivanie during the program. By being a participant observer with the teachers and students throughout the program I will be able to identify those specific moments as they occur and follow-up with the students through further exploration and re-representation of those moments. In this way I will also contribute to a deeper understanding of the pedagogy and contribute to its on-going design. 


Principal Advisor

Professor Peter Renshaw

Other advisor/s

Dr. Louise Phillips

Panel Chair

Associate Professor Katie Makar

Other panel member/s

Dr. Tony Wright


Confirmation of candidature : Marcelo Valente Ramos

Tue 9 Feb 2016 2:00pm


Building 24, Room 302