“In the Middle of Things”
Throughout this semester, we have had the opportunity to build on our knowledge of the environment and what ecological education means to us. My initial thoughts on what the environment means to me has gradually shifted and the meaning has broadened as I go through this journey of learning. As I look back at my blog posts, I realized that my ideas and beliefs of the environment has expanded and some of the discourses I thought of related to environment was interrupted. This interruption brought about change and helped me reflect on what I thought environment/ environmental education means. Also, what it means for me as an educator and ways I can bring or reflect my thoughts through practices that I can utilize in a classroom.
My first thoughts on what the environment meant to me was very simple and narrow minded. At the beginning of this semester, I viewed the environment as everything around us which includes the people we are with, the classroom we are in, the pathway we walk on, or the trees that we see. My view started to shift as we discussed our thoughts with a partner in class. Rhandi discussed her views on the environment which helped me broaden my idea and belief of what the environment consists of. She explained that everything in nature like the trees, lakes and animals was her view of environment which was a new perspective for me. With this understanding, I started to bridge the two thoughts together and expanded my thinking that the environment is all the natural and artificial things that are in our daily lives. It is about understanding and connecting ourselves with the world around us, along with making sense of the natural systems that are apart of our lives.
With having the belief that the environment is everything around us, including the natural world and artificial man-made structures, we need to think of or learn ways to live respectfully in this environment. A quote from an article by David Orr really impacted my way of thinking and made me question my role as a human in this environment. Orr suggests in the reading that we “desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places.” (2004, p. 12). I pondered a while about what it meant and how I can be one of those people that Orr talks about. I realized that it’s not just about knowing what the environment is, but how we can sustain and protect our natural environment through action and words. This realization was not made by reading Orr alone, but with the new perspective that Victoria shared through her ecoliteracy poem. She helped me become aware of the importance of knowing and recognizing the ecological issues that are currently present in our environment and to take action to preserve and prevent further damage to the place we call home.
As the semester continued, my thoughts on environment slowly changed. Along with thinking about environment as everything in our surrounding, I was beginning to recognize that ecological issues are playing a big part in my understanding of environment and eco-literacy. We easily think of the environment as something beautiful and natural, something we assume will always stay the same even though we are well aware of the consequences of our actions. As Rachel Carson questions in a reading, “have we fallen mesmerized and accepted the inevitable which is inferior and detrimental, as though we have lost the will or vision to demand that which is good?” (1962, p.12). I have to admit, prior to this class I didn’t think much about the issues that were affecting our environment even though I was aware of them and I didn’t do much to resolve the problem.
The knowledge that I gained and the change of perspectives made me become more aware and broadened my understanding of the environment and what it meant to be eco-literate. This knowledge has translated through my actions and thoughts towards our AL Group project which we have chosen to focus on waste reduction. As this project is taking place, I have strengthened my awareness of the amount of waste I produce which is contributing to the pollution of our environment. I keep trying to imagine the amount of waste that is accumulated throughout the years by humans and the effects of this contamination to our environment.
It is not enough for us to become aware of the environment and the harmful effects that we are doing, but we also need to educate others, especially future generations. We as teachers can bring change to our environment through teaching students to understand, build relationships, connect with the environment and maintain positive interactions. As Capra suggests, we should “create possibilities for developing abiding relationships with the natural world” (2007, p. 17). I want to be able to teach my students to look beyond what they see in the world and really connect with the environment through creating experiences and meaning.
Carson, R. (2002/1962). Silent Spring. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Capra, F. (2007). Sustainable Living, Ecological Literacy, & the Breath of Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 12(1), 9-19.
Orr, David (2004), What is Education for? In Earth in Mind, pp. 7-15. Washington DC: First Island Press.