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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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Appendix A: The Cognitive Toolkits 161


Appendix A The Cognitive Toolkits Somatic understanding Mythic understanding Romantic understanding Philosophic understanding Ironic understanding bodily senses story extremes & limits of reality drive for generality limits of theory emotional responses & attachments metaphor association with heroes processes reflexivity & identity rhythm & musicality abstract binary opposites sense of wonder lure of certainty coalescence gesture & communication forming images humanizing of meaning general schemes & anomalies particularity referencing sense of mystery narrative understanding flexibility of theory radical epistemic doubt intentionality joking & humor collections & hobbies search for authority & truth The Cognitive Toolkit of Mythic Understanding (Source: Egan, 2005, pp. 2-6) Story is one of the most powerful cognitive tools students have available for imaginatively engaging with knowledge. Stories shape our emotional understanding of their content. Stories can shape real-world content as well as fictional material. It is this real-world story-shaping that promises [the] most value for teaching. Metaphor is the tool that enables us to see one thing in terms of another. This peculiar ability lies at the heart of human intellectual inventiveness, A New Approach to Ecological Education 162 creativity, and imagination. It is important to help students keep this ability vividly alive by exercising it frequently; using it frequently in teaching will help students learn to read with energy and flexibility. Binary opposites are the most basic and powerful tools we have for organizing and categorizing knowledge. We see such opposites in conflict in nearly all stories, and they are crucial in providing an initial ordering to many complex forms of knowledge. The most powerfully...

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