Education is of paramount importance in establishing a right relationship with the earth in future generations. In the 50s and 60s I was taught about maths, science, languages and a little bit of history and geography. I had one day out in nature, plus quite a few murderous cross-country runs I was not properly trained for. Luckily I lived on the edge of a city and wandered around the surrounding fields; most children today are not so lucky.
Modern educational thinking and practice is much better than this, but they fight such a materialistic paradigm. Look at the world and its trends; there is way more to do.
Another blog post by Bill Graham has distilled some of the thinking of educator David Orr into seven propositions for earth-centred learning. Let’s hope they become more widely understood and applied. I’ve edited his points for my own understanding
- All education is environmental education.
[Conventional education, for the most part, excludes our dependence on nature.]
- Environmental issues are complex and cannot be understood through a single discipline or department.
[Most institutions are discipline centered.]
- The study of place is a fundamental organizing concept for education.
[Formal education prepares students to reside, not to inhabit. The inhabitant and a place mutually shape each other.]
- For inhabitants, education occurs in part as a dialogue with a place and has the characteristic of a good conversation.
[Good conversation with nature has the purpose of establishing what is here, what nature will permit, and what nature will help us do here.]
- Environment education should change the way people live, not just how they talk.
[Real learning is participatory, experiential, and interdisciplinary, not just didactic. Teachers function best as facilitators, and students are expected to be active agents in defining what is learned and how.]
- Experience in the natural world is both an essential part of understanding the environment and conducive to good thinking.
[Understanding nature demands a disciplined and observant intellect.]
- Education that addresses the challenge of building a sustainable society will enhance the learner’s competence with natural systems.
Featured image is of Himalaya rivers and snow, from NASA.