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There continues to be growing concern about the state of the environment, yet we are often confused by the complexities of economic, ethical, political, and social issues related to it. Daily, there are references in the news media to environmental issues such as global climate change, ozone depletion, dwindling resources, famine, disease, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and continuing job losses in many BC communities. The problems we face both as individuals and within our broader society are now so pervasive and ingrained within our cultural ways of being that we can no longer look to education about science and technology alone to solve these problems. Resultantly, environmental learning can and should include a sustained critique on dominant societal and industrial practices that often contribute to widespread and localized environmental problems.
We must also turn to ourselves as individuals, as researchers and as educational professionals to make change and develop a new ethic - aresponsible attitude toward caring for the earth. Working to integrate environmental learning within all subject areas promotes this change in attitude by providing students with opportunities to experience and investigate the relationships linking individuals, societies, and natural surroundings. Education ‘about’, ‘in’ and ‘for’ the environment provides students with opportunities to learn about the functioning of natural systems, to identify their beliefs and opinions, consider a range of views, and ultimately make informed and responsible choices for themselves, their families and communities. This book series aims to look at environmental learning and the associated educational research related to these practices from a broad and international perspective.
The inspiration for this book arose out of a large international conference: the ninth World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) organized under the theme of Culture/Environment. Similarly, the theme for this book focuses on the Culture/Environment nexus. The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 consists of a series of research studies from an eclectic selection of researchers from all corners of the globe. Part 2 consists of a series of case studies of practice selected from a wide diversity of K-Postsecondary educators. The intent behind these selections is to augment and highlight the diversity of both cultural method and cultural voice in our descriptions of environmental education practice. The chapters focus on a multi-disciplinary view of Environmental Education with a developing view that Culture and Environment may be inseparable and arise from and within each other. Cultural change is also a necessary condition, and a requirement, to rebuild and reinvent our relationship with nature and to live more sustainably. The chapters address the spirit of supporting our praxis, and are therefore directed towards both an educator and researcher audience. Each chapter describes original research or curriculum development work.
The Case for Deconstructing Computer Labs in Schools
The dominance of computer labs in our schools is the result of a long struggle among teachers and technicians for control of precious computer resources. As technicians gain power and influence, this is expressed in the ‘row on row of machines’ installed in literally thousands of computer labs in schools around the world. While labs are in some ways, ideal for learning about technology or computer programming, they somehow seem ill equipped to assist teachers with a lesson on language arts, geography or for helping students conduct a scientific experiment. As a result, the huge investment in computers seems like so much wasted potential: labs are not influencing teaching in the ways we had hoped for, and in fact, their use may even be harmful to students. These observations are based on five years of experience as the director of a centre for educational technology at a leading Canadian university and, on the results of three international studies I conducted in Australia, Canada and Malaysia. A reversal of the current ‘techno- trend’ would mean teachers would reclaim computers for ‘their own’ classrooms, and relegate the idea of the computer lab to the scrap heap of history. As educators, we need to discard the ‘once size fits all’strategy which computer labs imply about teachers’ instructional needs. This is reinforced by the apparent failure of computers to transform teachers’ practice despite significant investments in computer technologies. Some critics describe this as a ‘management problem’ as computer labs reinforce ‘top down’ ways of thinking about knowledge. Unfortunately, once such models are adopted, undesirable uses of technology—such as the computer lab—become entrenched in a bureaucratic mindset, limiting the effectiveness of these expensive tools to support teaching and learning.
Research in environmental education (EE) is a growing field of inquiry and should be seen as respondent to a variety of program developments around the world. These diverse programs are the context for this body of educational research. Diversity in EE research is also compounded when one considers the various cultures, epistemologies and research traditions that may inform the field. This complexity accounts for the range of forms for environmental learning in formal, informal or non-formal contexts.
There is a good deal of evidence that, in order to be more responsive to the needs of diverse populations, program developments around the world are now beginning to reflect the variation in our society. However, the same cannot always be said in terms of research methodologies within mainstream environmental education research. Outside of a few examples, there seems to have been very little in the way of development of research genres aimed at understanding, characterizing and supporting cultural diversity within much of mainstream environmental education. Diversity of method may also be important for the overall quality (or health) of environmental education research. To locate many of the new ideas and approaches in this area, one needs to look outside environmental education, towards general educational research, or to other fields such as environmental justice, indigenous education, science education and health education to name only a few examples.
This volume of original research reports from around the globe begins to richly describe aspects of diversity in environmental education research. It does so in two ways: first, it mirrors the diversity of voices and cultures that are conducting research in this ever-broadening and increasingly global and international field of inquiry, second: it illuminates a potential diversity of research methods by highlighting a range of methodologies salient in other fields which have emerging promise for the practice of research in environmental education.
Education researchers worldwide face a basic question: Is their purpose to use people to develop knowledge, or use knowledge to develop people? This book offers an exploration to this fundamental question by examining what three core disciplines—ecology, economics, and ecumenism—have in common. These disciplines have roots in the ancient Greek notion of the household ( oikos). By examining some complementary and competing principles among the disciplines, the book uncovers some commonalities between science, economics and religion, that support a holistic view of ecology or ecological education. The format for the discussion comprises a number of selected academic chapters on each of the topics above as well as a number of other creative media which include drawings figures, prose, poetry and photography which creatively draws connections among the diverse and interdisciplinary concepts and theories presented. In addition, the content of this book has attempted minimize academic jargon to make the ideas more accessible to an audience of academics, teachers and a wider general audience.
This book describes and documents one school’s experiences in achieving their environmental literacy goals through the development of a place-based learning environment. Through this initiative, a longitudinal, descriptive case study began at the Bowen Island Community School to both support and advocate for ecological literacy, while helping the school realize its broad environmental learning goals.
Conceptualised as an intensive case study of a learning environment (with an environmental education focus), the program was part of a larger ecological literacy project conducted in association with preservice and graduate education programs at a nearby university and research centre. Following both (empirical) learning environments and participatory (ethnographic) research methods, the project is described from a variety of perspectives: students, teachers, teacher educators, researchers and administrators.
The volume describes a variety of forms of place-based education that teachers devised and implemented at the school while giving evidence of the development of a supportive and positive place-based learning environment. The programs and initiatives described in this volume provide the reader with insights for the development of place-based programming more generally. The final chapter outlines participatory methods and action research efforts used to evaluate the success of the project and recounts the development and validation of a learning environment instrument to assist with this process. The new instrument coupled with qualitative descriptions of the learning environment experienced by many at the school give unique insights into the various ways the study of learning environments (as a methodology) may be explored.
In: Culture and Environment
In: Diversity in Environmental Education Research
In: The Ecology of Home
In: The Ecology of Home