‘I saw a magical garden with flowers that people could not damage!’: children’s visions of nature and of learning about nature in and out of school

‘I saw a magical garden with flowers that people could not damage!’: children’s visions of nature and of learning about nature in and out of school

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Clementina Rios & Isabel Menezes

Pages: 1-12 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2017.1325450

Abstract

This paper involves groups of children (aged 5–10) in discussing what nature is in their urban communities and how they learn about it. Children attend four urban and semi-urban Portuguese schools with different environmental pedagogies: Waldorf, forest school and eco-school. Previous studies of children’s conceptions of nature have mainly addressed environmental understanding as an individual dimension, even if acknowledging the situated nature of children’s knowledge and experience. In this study we draw on previous research, using focus groups as participatory methods that allow children to interact with their peers while expressing their visions and feelings about a topic. Group discussions show that children have a strong emotional connection with nature that generates a strongly protective disposition. Daily experiences in schools, families, and local communities but also the media reinforce this concern, and make children aware of a series of environmental problems, for which they either refer to existing rules or imagine creative solutions. On the whole, this research shows that children have a say in these matters and should therefore be involved in environmental debates and action – but also that a political ecology perspective seems to be absent from their school learning experiences.

Keywords: Children, citizenship, nature, environmental education, pedagogies

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2017.1325450

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Young primary students making sense of text and illustrations about how refuse can become soil

Young primary students making sense of text and illustrations about how refuse can become soil

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Lisbeth Åberg-Bengtsson, Dennis Beach & Agneta Ljung-Djärf

Pages: 1150-1168 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1118750

Abstract

Explanatory pictures and models are frequently used in teaching and learning situations. However, it seems to be simply assumed that they are always beneficial. In this article results from an investigation with 16 Swedish pupils aged 7–9 year are presented based on an analysis that has examined how well this assumption holds up. Concepts from multi-modal theory have been used to investigate how young learners deal with illustrations and text from an early reader booklet about composting domestic refuse. The analysis suggests that expectations that illustrations facilitate the meaning-making of young pupils may be exaggerated. Although the booklet claimed to provide interactive support between image and text most of the examples show pupils ignoring pictures or misinterpreting vital information about composting in both the verbal and non-verbal material. The illustrations did not compensate for the most crucial deficiencies in the written text.

Keywords: environmental education, illustrations as support to text, making of meaning composting refuse, young primary students

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2015.1118750

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The effects of socio-scientific issue based inquiry learning on pupils’ representations of landscape

The effects of socio-scientific issue based inquiry learning on pupils’ representations of landscape

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Sirpa Kärkkäinen, Tuula Keinonen, Jari Kukkonen, Seija Juntunen & Ilkka Ratinen

Pages: 1072-1087 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1177711

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that socio-scientific issues based inquiry learning has significant advantages for learning outcomes and students’ motivation. Further, a successful understanding of landscapes in environmental and geographical education can be achieved by combining informal learning environments with school education. Therefore this case study focuses on how socio-scientific issues based inquiry learning carried out in school and in a Nature Park, influences primary school pupils’ (n = 36) representations of landscapes. The pupils were asked to draw and write about landscape both before and after intervention. The data was analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively to investigate the impact of the intervention on the representations that pupils used in their descriptions of landscape. It was found that socio-scientific issues based inquiry learning in varied learning environments, noticeably enriched the pupil’s representations and lead to a multifaceted holistic understanding of landscape. Many of the representations produced were considered to be fairly sophisticated.

Keywords: Environmental education, geography education, landscape, socio-scientific issues

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2016.1177711

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Young children’s ideas about environment: perspectives from three early childhood educational settings

Young children’s ideas about environment: perspectives from three early childhood educational settings

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Lauren Madden & Jennifer Liang

Pages: 1055-1071 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1236185

Abstract

Many efforts have been made around the globe to advocate for and encourage environmental sustainability education (ESE). As many as 15 fields can serve as ‘currents’ on the greater field of environmental education, including environmental education and education for sustainability. We acknowledge that each is a separate and distinct field of inquiry, but choose not to limit our perspective to any one field or the other. Thus, we have elected to use the term ESE to refer to work that falls into any or all of these categories throughout this manuscript for learners of all ages. Yet, there is a dearth of information at the early childhood level, defined as toddlers through eight-year-olds. Our exploratory study focused on better describing young children’s understandings of ESE. Young children (ages three-eight) from three different suburban early childhood education settings (public school pre-kindergarten, church-based cooperative preschool, and private daycare center) participated in focus group interviews before and one week after a brief ESE learning activity. Findings revealed that children were able to describe nature in more sophisticated ways after the intervention than before, suggesting that learning in early childhood ESE is possible and fruitful.

Keywords: Early childhood, environmental education, conceptions

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2016.1236185

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The philosophies, contents and pedagogies of environmental education programs in 10 Israeli elementary schools

The philosophies, contents and pedagogies of environmental education programs in 10 Israeli elementary schools

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Tali Tal & Einat Peled

Pages: 1032-1053 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1153047

Abstract

In this study, our aim was to understand how environmental education has been implemented in Israeli elementary schools. We selected ten schools that had implemented Education for Sustainability programs and analyzed their mission statements and curriculum documents. We observed each school’s activities and interviewed teachers. Our analysis shows ambiguity with respect to the rationales and the theoretical foundations of the programs. It also shows much didactic teaching of content, a strong focus on behavioral outcomes, especially with respect to reducing resource consumption and to increasing the levels of recycling, as well as some degree of working with the community. The unclear status of environmental education in Israel, in terms of its structure within the education system, prevents it from having sufficient resources for teacher education and curriculum development. It is suggested that this lack of clarity is the main cause of the ambiguity and for the use of the traditional pedagogies we found in our analysis.

Keywords: curriculum, education for sustainable development, environmental education, professional development, Elementary schools

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2016.1153047

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Botany and environmental education in elementary school in Brazil: articulating knowledge, values, and procedures

Botany and environmental education in elementary school in Brazil: articulating knowledge, values, and procedures

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Jerônimo de Oliveira Loureiro & Rossano André Dal-Farra

Pages: 1-14 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2017.1343280

Abstract

The increasing urbanization and alienation from nature reduce children’s opportunities to interact with plants and challenge teachers to devise educational practices that contribute to learning botany. This study presents the results of activities developed in a Brazilian school through explorations, drawings, dried and pressed specimens, and semi-structured interviews. The data were evaluated using mixed methods analysis. Leaves were the structure that was most frequently drawn by 1st- and 2nd-year students, followed by stems. Among students in their 3rd, 4th, and 5th years, more emphasis was on flowers and their detailed morphological structures. The 1st- and 2nd-year students included non-living elements and the surrounding environment in their drawings, whereas the older students focused on the plant itself. These particularities point to methods of teaching botany in context and link students’ specific knowledge to values and practices that contribute to an environmental education that aims to minimize the utilitarian view of nature and move towards a view of human beings as integrated and interdependent with other living and non-living elements.

Keywords: Elementary education, botany, herbarium, science education, environmental education

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2017.1343280

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Changes in experiences with nature through the lives of environmentally committed university faculty

Changes in experiences with nature through the lives of environmentally committed university faculty

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Nicolette L. Cagle

Pages: 1-10 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2017.1342116

Abstract

Previous work has identified time spent in nature as a child as a precursor to active care for the natural world (i.e. environmental commitment), but a paucity of data exists on what happens to environmentally committed people’s relationship to nature over time, including the time spent in nature and the quality of that experience. In addition, previous work has not more finely categorized these nature experiences, with the exception of natural history-oriented professionals. I address these gaps by conducting in-depth interviews with 12 faculty in the environment at Duke University regarding relationships with nature throughout their life. The interviews reveal that the amount of time spent in nature, and the quality of that experience, changed for this cohort over time. Moreover, these interviews revealed nuanced aspects of relationships with nature that changed with life stage, complementing that work which was conducted on natural history-oriented professionals. This work suggests that more research is needed on the changing relationship with nature among adults and environmental educators.

Keywords: Higher-education, environmental education, nature, significant life experience, nature deficit disorder

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2017.1342116

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