September 17, 2016

Environmental education is not advocacy

Environmental education has advanced substantially along a number of fronts during the last decade. The state-of-the art concerning the development of goals for curriculum development, nevertheless, remains largely stable with a few notable exceptions inclusive of Harvey, Stapp, and the Tbilisi intergovernmental conference. And  what is more, there exists no research that provides a comprehensive description of environmental education program (s) or project curricula developed and implemented at either primary or secondary schools. Obviously, this lack of awareness has resulted in curricum development which is largely intuitive in nature without a coherent and/or cohesive strategy to guide the curriculum developers towards the goals which would facilitate the production of a citizenry competent to cope with the environmental issues successfully. It is a general consensus that the responsibilities of environmental education are too great, and the time is too short while the skills of the practitioner are too low with the result that curriculum development remains to be a matter of intuition.
Concern over this lack of foundation for environmental education was revealed as early as 70s by Clay Schoenfeld, who noted that environmental education was at a stage of development which was passed long ago by many other fields of study-i.e. there is no clearly defined and delineated substantive structure for environmental education. In this regard, it is worth noting that environmental education is a process which allows people to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving and take action to improve the environment. As a result, people have come to develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and have the skills to make informed and responsible decisions.
The components of environmental education are: awareness of and sensitivity to environment and its challenges; knowledge and understanding of the environment and its challenges; attitudes of concern over environment and motivation to improve and/or maintain environmental quality; skills to identify and help resolve environmental challenges; and participation in the activities that lead to the resolution  of the environmental challenges; and participation in the activities that lead to the resolution of the environmental challenges.
In a nutshell, environmental education does not advocate a particular viewpoint or course of action. Rather, it teaches people how to weigh various sides of an issue through critical thinking, and it enhances their own problem-solving and decision-making skills. This being so, the developers of the curriculum for environmental education are advised to be aware of the aforesaid ideas in their curriculum development.


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