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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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Part One: A Brief Overview of Current Approaches to Ecological Education 7


Part One A Brief Overview of Current Approaches to Ecological Education Ecological Education is rising in popularity. As increased media attention is being paid to the world’s ecological problems, people are increasingly looking to schools to do something about them. Educational programs aiming to address the unsustainable nature of humankind’s relationships with the world tend to fall under a broad umbrella of approaches ranging in name from Environmental Education through Education for Sustainability. Ecological Education is an educational approach that shares the common purpose of these goals and yet is distinct. It is the relationality of Ecological Education, its focus on nurturing relationships of all kinds, and specifically, students’ emotional connections with place that set it apart. Chapter One What Is Ecological Education? This chapter sets out to define a broad and, for some readers, possibly foreign educational field. The reader will encounter quite a different vision of education than he or she likely experienced in school. By nurturing relationships of all kinds, and by affording students opportunities to engage in nature and with the local natural environment, Ecological Education programs differ from regular teaching in schools; the kinds of learning opportunities they offer students may seem, at first glance, useful for developing ecological understanding. If we look deeper, however, and compare the goal of Ecological Education—cultivation of ecological understanding—with the theoretical and practical frameworks in place to support it, we see a fatal flaw. Ecological Education programs, in their current form, are inadequate for developing and nurturing...

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