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Children’s Environmental Identity Development

Negotiating Inner and Outer Tensions in Natural World Socialization

by Carie Green (Author)
Textbook XXVI, 164 Pages

Summary

Children’s Environmental Identity Development: Negotiating Inner and Outer Tensions in Natural World Socialization draws inspiration from environmental education, education for sustainability, environmental psychology, sociology, and child development to propose a theoretical framework for considering how children’s identity in/with/for nature evolves through formative experiences. The natural world socialization of young children considers not only how the natural environment affects the growth and development of young children but also how children shape and influence natural settings. Such childhood relations with the environment are explicitly linked to familial, sociocultural, geographical, and educational contexts. While the book is theoretical and will be of interest to academics and students, the use of accessible language, vignettes, and figures will make it useful to teachers, policy-makers, parents, and others genuinely concerned with children’s relationships with other humans and the natural world.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Children’s Environmental Identity Development
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • The Welcome too Our Forist research project
  • Children’s Environmental Identity Development in an Alaskan Rural Context
  • Sensory Tours
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 1: A Model for Environmental Identity Development
  • A Twilight Dance in the Snow
  • A Model for Environmental Identity Development (EID)
  • What is Environmental Identity?
  • Bridging Psychological and Sociological Theories of Childhood
  • Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development
  • Psychosocial Development in an Environmental Education Context
  • Foundation: Trust in Nature vs. Mistrust in Nature
  • First Progression: Spatial Autonomy vs. Environmental Shame
  • Second Progression: Environmental Competency vs. Environmental Disdain
  • Third Progression: Environmental Action vs. Environmental Harm
  • Education in/from, about, and for the Environment
  • Negotiating Tensions
  • The Role of Emotions in EID
  • Emotions and Learning
  • Emotions and Environmental Education
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 2: Trust in Nature vs. Mistrust in Nature
  • A Sense of Trust
  • Revisiting Psychosocial Development and Attachment Theory
  • Place Attachment and Trust in Nature
  • Trust in Nature as the Foundation for EID
  • Establishing Trust in Infancy: A Caregiver’s Role
  • Mistrust in Nature
  • Negotiating Environmental Tensions
  • Navigating Rosebushes
  • Revisiting Trust in Nature through Environmental Education
  • Diversity in Trust in Nature
  • Future Directions for Research and Application
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 3: Spatial Autonomy vs. Environmental Shame
  • My Own Special Place
  • Psychological Development and Spatial Autonomy
  • Human and Place Attachment
  • A House in the Forest
  • Discovering a Monster Castle
  • Forming Spatial Autonomy: A Caregiver’s Role
  • Environmental Shame
  • Revisiting Spatial Autonomy through Environmental Education
  • Re-climbing His Monster Castle
  • Diversity in Spatial Autonomy
  • Future Directions for Research and Application
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 4: Environmental Competency vs. Environmental Disdain
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Psychological Development and Environmental Competency
  • X-Marks-the-Spot
  • Inspiring Environmental Competency: A Caregiver’s Role
  • Cultivating Strawberries
  • Environmental Disdain
  • Revisiting Environmental Competency through Environmental Education
  • Pinky Creek
  • Diversity in Environmental Competency
  • “Good Water to go Fishing”
  • Future Directions for Research and Application
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 5: Environmental Action vs. Environmental Harm
  • Litter on the School Grounds
  • Psychosocial Development and Environmental Action
  • Industry and Environmental Action
  • Discovering a Caterpillar
  • Environmental Harm
  • “Knock over Trees”
  • Revisiting Environmental Action through Environmental Education
  • Diversity in Environmental Action
  • Future Directions for Research and Application
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 6: Methodologies and Methods for Environmental Identity Development Research
  • Research is …
  • Research Approaches Involving Children
  • Research on, with, and by Children
  • Participatory Methods for Researching Children’s EID
  • Bookmaking
  • Sensory Tours
  • Video-Stimulated Group Discussions
  • Artistic Representations
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Building a Model
  • Role-Playing
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 7: Diverse Observations of EID
  • Voices from the Field
  • Transferring Passion to Arctic Conversations About Climate Change
  • Introduction
  • Project Context
  • Initial Observations
  • Reflexive Repositioning and Initial Findings
  • Possibilities for Future Design Work Influenced by EID Theory
  • Bridging Cultures: Environmental Identity Development in Thailand and Alaska
  • Introduction
  • Noah
  • Eric
  • Bridging Cultures
  • Cultural Identity Development as it Relates to Environmental Identity Development
  • A Final Note
  • Notes
  • References
  • Contributor Biographies
  • Series index

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ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure 1.1. Environmental Identity Development Model

Figure 2.1. Trust in Nature vs. Mistrust in Nature

Figure 3.1. Spatial Autonomy vs. Environmental Shame

Figure 4.1. Environmental Competency vs. Environmental Disdain

Figure 5.1. Environmental Action vs. Environmental Harm

Figure 6.1. Concept map for EID research

Figure 6.2. Pages of the book Our Data Collection Methods

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First and foremost, I would like to thank my lovely four daughters, Heidi, Juniper, Jade, and Hallie for your unceasing joy and inspiration! Life is full because of you! Over mountains, through valleys, along canyons, amidst mighty trees, across rivers, beside oceans, I feel so blessed to have shared the many moments together in awe of all creation. I look forward to many more moments for the rest of our lives and am so thankful to play an active role in your Environmental Identity Development (EID).

Special thanks to Connie Russell and Justin Dillon, editors of the [Re]Thinking Environmental Education series for believing in the important role EE plays in nurturing children’s growing sense of self in relation to the natural world. Thank you to Anneliese Worster and Darius Kalvaitis for contributing to the initial idea of EID. Thanks to other EE research colleagues for contributing your thoughts and insight to this work.

This book could not have been possible without involvement of the wonderful children at the Bunnell House Early Childhood Lab School at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). You continue to inspire me with a richer, more creative view of the natural world. Thank you to my undergraduate student research assistants in the Welcome too Our Forist research project: Renee Avugiak, Gabriel Cartagena, and Katrina Bishop. Also, thanks to Paige ← xiii | xiv → VonderHaar, director of the lab school, for supporting and facilitating the children’s adventures in the forest, keeping parents and community members informed of forest happenings, and organizing the many logistics of our evolving research project (from assuring art supplies to arranging tree stump tables). Thank you teacher and friends, Connie Slater, Pammy Fowler, and Chasity Evanow, for believing in the value of this project and the benefits associated with allowing children to freely play and discover their forest. Thank you for your insightful comments throughout this process and loaning your classroom space and time for in-depth discussions with the children. Thank you to all the support staff (Sooyun Chi, Shannon Harvey, Mandee Cogley, and Emily Noble) as well as the practicum teacher interns (Ashley Thronsen, Desiree Dan, Haley McGlinchy, and Laura Van Amberg), your care for the children and support was essential in making the forest a welcoming place for all! And thank you to Bunnell House parents for enriching your children’s lives and allowing your children to thrive and imagine in our Alaskan forest!

Thank you for those who supported the second iteration of studying children’s Environmental Identity Development in an Alaskan rural community context. Thank you Robin Child, Bethany Fernstrom, and John Henry Jr. for helping to orchestrate the project; thank you to the 54 kindergarten through third grade students for being a source of inspiration; and thank you to all of the collaborating teachers, administrators, parents, and community members at Unalakleet School for making this event possible. Our field day excursion to the nature camp – sharing a ride with children in the cabs of school pick-up trucks, cascading through fresh fallen leaves of the birch and spruce forest, trudging across the tundra to pick luscious berries, and soaking in the rays of the crisp clean ocean breeze—will forever be imprinted in my memory as a source of inspiration and a true community connection.

The research presented in the content of this book was generously supported by UAF’s Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity (URSA) as well as the Alaska Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), National Science Foundation award #OIA-1208927. Continued support for studying children’s EID is being provided by the UAF Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) program, funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers RL5GM118990. The content in this book is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. ← xiv | xv →

Special thanks to all of my colleagues at the UAF and the School of Education for supporting and believing in me through this endeavor, including: Dr. Stephen Atwater, Dr. Anupma Prakash, Dr. Allan Morotti, Dr. Raymond Barnhardt, Dr. Carol Barnhardt, Dr. Cindy Fabbri, Dr. Amy Vinlove, Dr. Susan Renes, Dr. Sean Asiqłuq Topkok, Dr. Maureen Hogan, Anne Armstrong, Don Peterson, Nicole Sletterink and many others. Thanks to graduate students in my place-based education classes and introductory research courses and thanks to undergraduate students in my child development course for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and experiences of EID. I am so pleased to be Naturally Inspired by UAF and the Fairbanks community. And thanks to the countless colleagues and friend from around the globe for the inspiration that has led me to this in-depth exploration of children’s EID.

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PREFACE

This book focuses on a timely topic, Environmental Identity Development (EID) in young children and the way such identity progresses throughout the life span, drawing together theories and research from distinct fields including environmental education, education for sustainability, environmental psychology, sociology, and child development to enrich practices in early childhood environmental education and education for sustainability.1 In an early childhood context, EID, or the natural world socialization of young children, considers not only how the natural environment affects the growth and development of young children, but also how children, as they grow and develop, shape and influence natural settings. Such childhood relations/bonds with their environment are explicitly linked to familial, sociocultural, and geographical contexts. In other words, adults (parents, caregivers and educators), siblings and peers, as well as culture play an essential role in supporting children as they develop foundational aspects of their environmental identity.

In recent years, environmental identity has gained an increasing amount of interest among scholars in environmental education and other related disciplines (Blatt, 2014; Brügger, Kaiser, & Roczen, 2011; Clayton, Fraser, & Burgess, 2011; Clayton & Opotow, 2003; Evans, Ching, & Ballard, 2012; Hinds & Sparks, 2009; Payne, 2001; Stapleton, 2015; Stets & Biga, 2003). ← xvii | xviii → Environmental identity, an aspect of self-identity, considers an individual’s self-concept in relation to the natural world and is generally concerned with the degree in which one is willing to act for the environment (Clayton & Opotow, 2003; Payne, 2001). While action is the resulting behavior of one who has a strong environmental identity, and has long been recognized as an outcome of environmental education (UNESCO, 1978), little has been written about how children’s environmental identities emerge. In other words, such action-oriented dispositions do not appear over night, rather they are sustained and constructed through meaningful social and independent encounters with the natural world. Additionally, although there is a general consensus that formative childhood experiences in nature are significant to the identity construction of adults and adolescents involved in environmental actions (Chawla, 1999; Palmer & Suggate, 1996; Wells & Lekies, 2006), none have yet articulated the progression of environmental identity formations across the early childhood age-spectrum. In other words, theory on children’s environmental identity development (EID) is generally lacking, particularly in focusing on young children (birth to eight-years-old). Thus, this book significantly contributes to the literature by specifying a framework for interpreting young children’s EID, that is, children’s growing sense of self in, with and for the natural world.

The EID progressions proposed in this book are derived from both psychological and contemporary sociological understandings of childhood, recognizing children as active agents, and provide a fresh lens for considering how experiences in the natural world inform a child’s growing self-concept. It can be used as a theoretical lens for interpreting early childhood environmental education and early childhood education for sustainability research. It can also be applied as a tool for caregivers and educators to consider how environmental or nature-based learning experiences may be constructed to positively influence the development of children’s environmental identities.

Details

Pages
XXVI, 164
ISBN (PDF)
9781433158056
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433158063
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433158070
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433132001
ISBN (Softcover)
9781433131998
Language
English
Publication date
2018 (October)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XXVI, 164 pp., 7 b/w ills.

Biographical notes

Carie Green (Author)

Carie Green earned her Ph.D. in education (2011) from the University of Wyoming. She is Associate Professor of People, Place, and Pedagogy in the School of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She studies the sociocultural influences of children’s environmental identity development in diverse contexts.

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Title: Children’s Environmental Identity Development