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A New Approach to Ecological Education

Engaging Students’ Imaginations in Their World

Gillian Judson

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Introduction: Re-imagining Ecological Education 1

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Introduction Re-imagining Ecological Education Ecological Education is gaining increasing popularity, its teachings about the interconnectedness of the world being acknowledged as vitally important to dealing with the pressing ecological issues we now face. The development of what some call ecological understanding is often cited as the aim of Ecological Education. To understand ecologically is to make sense of the human world as part of, not apart from, nature; it is to understand humankind’s “implicatedness in life” (Orr, 2005b, p. 105). The problem, however, is that Ecological Education is ill-equipped to achieve this aim. Understanding ecologically has an emotional core. One’s knowledge about ecological processes and principles is made meaningful and personal by an emotional attachment to the natural world. One of the implications of this attachment is a sense of care or stewardship towards the Earth. We rarely acknowledge, however, that ecological understanding requires imagination, that it has, indeed, an emotional and imaginative core. Examination of the theory and practice of Ecological Education reveals this to be the case. Theorists in the field of Ecological Education are currently overlooking the importance of imagination for the development of ecological understanding. Bringing imagination to the core of Ecological Education theory and practice is what this book is all about. The pedagogy offered in this book offers Ecological Education a resolution to the difficult situation in which it currently finds itself. On one hand Ecological Education programs strive to fulfill a mandated curriculum and on the other to fulfill the overarching goal of...

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