Chapter 7 Bringing the Social and Ecological into Teacher Education

Place-Conscious Teacher Education for Cultivating Community Well-Being

In: Ecocritical Perspectives in Teacher Education
Kevin J. Holohan
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In developing a deep and intimate knowledge of place, teacher candidates are better positioned to create learning opportunities for students that promote community empowerment and collective action around social and ecological issues and that foster the well-being of all members, human and more-than-human, of local places. The theory of social ecology begins with the premise that domination and hierarchy within human communities are intimately intertwined with environmental degradation and human-induced ecological imbalances and destruction (Bookchin, 1982/2005, 1990). Similarly, eco-anarchism levels its critique against objectifying and hierarchical relationships between humans as well as against relations that situate humans as above and superior to non-human nature (i.e. anthropocentrism). In doing so, it aims to extend a relational ethic of mutual aid, cooperation, kinship, and respect to the more-than-human living world (Hall, 2011). This chapter explores the related theoretical lenses of social ecology and ecological anarchism by featuring their shared principles, implications for education, and application in a formal educational context. Next, the author applies these explorations to his work as an educational foundations scholar and teacher educator and considers how the principles of mutual aid, direct action, directly democratic decision-making, and challenges to anthropocentrism can be taught and nurtured amongst pre-service teacher candidates. More specifically, the chapter unpacks the ways in which these theoretical perspectives can be used to guide the thinking and work of undergraduates engaged in their semester-long student-teaching experiences illustrating how teacher candidates can engage in dialogue and analysis focused on the multiple dimensions of place in which their schools are situated (Gruenewald, 2003a).

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