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A New Approach to Ecological Education

Engaging Students’ Imaginations in Their World

Gillian Judson

Ecological education is becoming a major area of interest worldwide, and schools are increasingly being called upon to address global and local ecological concerns. Unfortunately, most teachers have limited or no training in the knowledge and skills required to support their students’ sense of connection to the natural world. Moreover, they have been trained to teach in ways that often marginalize the imagination in learning. This book illustrates how imagination and the development of ecological understanding are closely connected. It offers teachers a practical guide to teaching in ecological and imaginative ways – needed support to establishing more ecologically-oriented education in all classrooms. As imagination takes a central position in schools, all teaching and learning can improve as a result.


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Introduction: Re-imagining Ecological Education 1


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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