Environmental education is near and dear to my heart. I focused on Environmental Studies during my undergrad education and also had the pleasure of doing environmental education and outreach during part of my service in the Peace Corps. So I was excited to take part in an a Project Learning Tree environmental education workshop in my Science methods class. I really enjoyed this workshop and have been thinking of ways I can incorporate environmental education into my classroom.
One of the things I thought was great about this workshop was the approach of teaching children to love the environment before asking them to take steps to protect it. In other words, we need to build awareness before we introduce an activism component to environmental ed. Often times, there is a doom and gloom feel to environmental education and the stories we hear in the media. I think this approach can lead people to think that doing anything to help the environment is futile. In the workshop, we also talked about guilt. Guilt is not a good way to call people to action, it may work in the short term, but it isn’t sustainable.
As a child, I was able to spend lots of time outdoors and was fortunate enough to visit many national and state parks with my family. I believe these experiences lead me towards studying the environment and being interested in learning stewardship and sustainability. I know that many children do not get the chance to have the experiences I had as a child, which is why I think it is so important to bring experiences with the environment into our classrooms.