‘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

  • New EER Article Alert

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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Establishing enabling conditions to develop critical thinking skills: a case of innovative curriculum design in Environmental Science

Establishing enabling conditions to develop critical thinking skills: a case of innovative curriculum design in Environmental Science

  • article in current issue

Dina Zoe Belluigi & Georgina Cundill

Pages: 950-971 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1072802

Abstract

This paper considers a curriculum design motivated by a desire to explore more valid pedagogical approaches that foster critical thinking skills among students engaged in an Environmental Science course in South Africa, focussing specifically on the topic of Citizen Science. Fifty-three under graduate students were involved in the course, which was run over a two week period. Data were generated from several sources, including individual student evaluations, a focus group discussion, lecturer reflections and summative assessment results. During the course, the development of critical thinking skills was scaffolded by different thinking approaches to the possibilities and problematics of student-selected case studies, followed by a collaborative re-examining of ‘what is known’ about Citizen Science. Spiralling engagement with various resources harnessed the diversity of the class, as they drew on their personal and disciplinary backgrounds. The insights highlight possibilities for alternative higher education teaching models for emerging subjects such as Environmental Science, where the competencies required of graduates, such as critical thinking and coping with uncertainty, differ significantly from traditional ‘science’ competencies, and therefore require a departure from traditional teaching methods.

Keywords: critical thinking, curriculum, enquiry-based learning, pluralism

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2015.1072802

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Education for sustainable agriculture: a typology of the role of teaching farms in achieving learning goals and objectives

Education for sustainable agriculture: a typology of the role of teaching farms in achieving learning goals and objectives

  • paper in the current issue

Kelly Monaghan, Marilyn Swisher, Rosalie L. Koenig & Juan C. Rodriguez

Pages: 749-772 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1091877

Abstract

Teaching farms have recently gained popularity, but they are often expensive venues per student credit hour. It is therefore important they are used effectively. This research explored why faculty members use teaching farms, their goals and objectives with regard to the farm, and how they integrate teaching farms into curriculum. Twenty interviews were completed with faculty representing 15 institutions. A combined inductive and deductive approach was used to analyze data. The result was a typology of the roles of teaching farms in achieving educational goals and objectives. Four types of roles emerged: enhancement, competency, exploration, and foundation. Three of the four types reflect one of three models of higher education prevalent in the US. Our research suggests a better understanding of educational theory and pedagogy, combined with a firm appreciation of the different models of higher education could significantly enhance the quality of the learning experience provided on teaching farms.

Keywords: teaching farm, pedagogy, sustainable agriculture, higher education

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2015.1091877