What should be the core elements of an environmental education framework?
Most educational frameworks describe three elements:
At EcoUniv, we feel that an educational framework should also demonstrate a deep understanding of the learner as an additional element. In our diverse, dynamic world with a lot of variation among learners, educational frameworks cannot be rigid blueprints. They need to be living documents, customizable by the teacher/facilitator depending on the cultural context, language, and the background of learners.
The aims of EcoUniv’s framework for environmental education are
- At the outset we recognize the societal need for transformational change towards sustainability and the framework will aim to meet this need. The vision is to participate in creation of human capital that meets the challenge for sustainability (the need imperative)
- At the same time, it will not be about ‘social programming’ or brainwashing. The focus will be on the deep connection between human beings and nature, e.g. us being a part of nature’s biodiversity and not above it, nurturing our naturalistic intelligence, our connection with land, water, climate, and communities. The framework will help the learner find a meaningful existence within this context (the humanistic imperative).
- As outlined in the previous posts, it will help the learner develop a holistic perspective towards the environment, consumption/lifestyle, and economy.
- In addition to national and global challenges, it will emphasize local ecologies and climate, local resources, economy, and land use, local biodiversity, local aspects of man-nature relationship and it’s linkages with culture and language.
- It will consider parents and teachers as key stakeholders in environmental education. It will coach teachers about the holistic perspective, the rapid erosion of natural resources, sustainability concepts, and the transformational change required. In our vision, parents and teachers should not be blind followers of an educational framework or any particular educational thinker’s directives. They should be co-creators, designers, collaborators, and owners of the framework’s pedagogy and content.
- Appreciation of nature’s beauty will be a key theme in the framework. This is similar to the way a learner appreciates beauty when experiencing or expressing through art. Learners need to ‘wander around’ in nature and develop a lasting emotional bond with it. We believe this can be achieved by: (1) Absorbing nature through the five senses. Visiting local and regional wilderness/ecosystems (e.g. rivers) frequently and thoughtfully to experience nature’s colors, shapes, touch, sound, flow, events, seasons, and cycles. (2) Expressing such “absorbed nature” through writing, speech, art (e.g. drawing), dance, and acting. (3) Appreciating nature’s beauty as expressed by others e.g. peer learners, teachers, painters, musicians, mathematicians and scientists. Advanced level learners can also appreciate nature as an artist, engineer, architect, and mathematician. This can be done by analyzing materials, structures, form, proportion, symmetry, and mathematical expression in nature.
- The framework will aim to combine disparate science education streams as far as natural science education is concerned. It will impart learning of sciences in a holistic way, including ecology and economics. More on this in a future post.
- It will touch upon the entire spectrum of man-nature relationship in space and time and hold it as the core around which to discuss ideas like technology, industrialization, land use, agriculture and food, environmental economics, environmental justice, gender equity, resource equity, and socio-economic equity. This will need understanding the chief modes of man’s living on Earth (e.g. hunter gatherer, cultivator, pastoralist, industrial man), understanding reasons for collapses of past societies, and understanding tribal and other societies living in harmony with nature.
The next several posts will describe our understanding of the learner. Eventually we will explore content and pedagogy.
Example: An image of salt workers in salt panes in the Rann of Kutch. A holistic study of this ecosystem will include
- The unique geology and climate of the Rann
- The marine and land ecosystem and its flows, including seasonal changes
- The unique biodiversity of the Rann and threats to it
- The communities living in the Rann and their dependence on natural resources. This includes history of communities, their culture, migration, skills and vocations, economics, aspirations, and so on.
- Studies of equity and natural resource exploitation. In case of salt workers, this will mean studying the entire supply chain of salt in India, and its economics
- Imbalances in social equity, gender equity, natural resource equity, threats to the ecosystem and current balance of human-nature relationship