By getting an education, a person is able to rise above the rest and is able to achieve so much more in life.
Education prepares children for life in the cultures into which they are born, giving them the tools and knowledge that they need to survive in their physical and social realities. Throughout most of human history, cultural knowledge correlated strongly with the knowledge that was needed to survive and thrive in the immediate environment.
Information was passed, for example, for how to identify edible plants and dangerous animals or how to make fire, tools, clothing, and shelter. For humans to thrive, we will need to systematically rethink education, helping students learn the knowledge that is most useful for their survival on a planet that is undergoing rapid ecological changes.
State of the World explores how education—particularly formal education—will need to evolve to prepare students for life on a changing planet. Opportunities for nature play and learning need to be an integral part of cultivating adult environmental behavior.
Around the world, numerous overlapping movements have this goal in mind: And these leaders are implementing a variety of programs, from forest schools to innovative outdoor programs and wilderness trips that are leading to reconnecting children with the Earth.
Stone is senior editor at the Center for Ecoliteracy, coeditor of Ecological Literacy: Its principles can be distilled into four guiding principles: For example, by working to learn about and protect a freshwater shrimp, elementary students in California became more knowledgeable about ecology, the sciences, even how to organize diverse community interests to help protect the shrimp to improve their local watershed.
Indigenous education is inherently environmental education. It starts with a cosmological orientation to the sun, moon, and stars in relation to local geography and ecology, which creates eco-cultural landscapes and sacred places. One cannot learn about the history of any place without understanding the first peoples of the land and their unique cultural and environmental practices, as well as the impacts of conquest, and cultural resilience.
Indigenous learning is always contextual, starting with exactly where you are. Indigenous peoples are exercising their self-determination and educational rights to renew Indigenous lifeways and teach them to younger generations. It is clear that peoples of all walks of life are listening to these teachings, decolonizing their minds, and preparing to learn anew to create the New People for a green future.
As an environmental educator, it is difficult not to get discouraged. The news about the state of the environment is ever more sobering. Climate change, habitat destruction, species depletion, rising sea levels, pollution, and the list goes on.
Teaching about these formidable challenges can seem daunting, overwhelming, and, at times, simply hopeless. And despite our best efforts, things just seem to be getting worse.
Perhaps like a reversed telescope, environmental education is being looked at in the wrong way. Instead of dealing with reactions to problems and trying to solve environmental issues as they arise, it may be worthwhile to consider what sort of citizens we believe should populate the Earth.
Raising environmentally engaged citizens requires more than just a few educators participating in this work.
Rather, it is a collective responsibility: Around the world, the commitment to a fair, healthy, and sustainable food model within the sphere of formal education represents a cultural transformation, not just for students but for the broader educational community and for society as a whole.
Getting there is not easy, however. Truly transforming the relationship that schools have with food—and ensuring that food is a vector for lasting societal change—is a multidirectional process of teaching and learning that involves a broad range of stakeholders.
This includes students and teachers, cooks and cafeteria monitors, food suppliers and intermediaries, families and neighborhoods, as well as numerous other actors from the communities in which schools are located.
Berkowitz is the Sanford N.There are no bells at Salt Lake City’s Innovations Early College High School, and no traditional “classes.” Students show up when they like, putting in six and a half hours at school between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Working with a mentor teacher, students set their own goals and move through self-paced online lessons.
CHAPTER SUMMARIES. Chapter 1. EarthEd: Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet. Erik Assadourian. Erik Assadourian is a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute and director of State of the World and Worldwatch’s EarthEd Project.
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