ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOL BASED ON LOCAL NATURAL RESOURCES
2016-04-20 03:26:13 | Admin
Environmental Education is a sustainable solution for sustainable development. Local natural resources is an important materials for education. Employing natural resources in educating children is one of the most effective educational approaches.
Environmental education for the sustainable development
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”
Nowaday, climate change has had huge impacts on human’s lives all over the world, in many fields of health, economy, living habitat… In this context, “sustainable development” has been introduced as an essential and necessary strategy that aims to conserve the Earth planet and especially the human beings. Sustainable development (SD) is generally defined as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Our Common Future, 1987). In order to reach the stage of this development, the four connected “legs” of “the chair of SD” need to be maintained and developed comprehensively: Economic leg, Cultural leg, Social leg, and Ecological leg.
The Ecological leg of the chair of SD emphasizes the needs of preserving natural resources and biodiversity, as well as preventing environmental pollutions. From this perspective, researchers stated that environmental education (EE) has been an essential, long-term and sustainable solution for contributing to the ecological leg of the SD.
A number of definitions of EE have been introduced based on different perspectives, however, a definition has been commonly accepted is “Environmental education is a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment. As a result, individuals develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and have the skills to make informed and responsible decisions.” (EPA). There are three methods of approaching EE mentioned commonly:
- Education about environment: equipping learners with knowledge and understandings about the science of environment in the relationship with issues of society, culture, and economics. This approach is to help learners acquire adequate information and make appropriate decisions toward environment problems.
- Education in/through environment: this approach considers natural or artificial environments are means and environment of teaching and learning activities. This allows learners utilize the surrounding environments as places for studying, discovering and experiencing environmental problems practically.
- Education for environment: providing knowledge about characteristics and essence of the environment in order to form responsive attitudes, behaviors, and awareness toward environment; besides, providing knowledge, skills, and strategies that are necessary for making decisions to act for protecting environment and sustainable development. This approach enhances learners’ ability to make changes for a better world, and to cope with local environmental issues and threats.
The most comprehensive and effective approach for EE is the combination of the three approaches posed. This helps individuals build up and develop their own understandings about the environment, interact with the environment, and thus each is able to apply the learnt knowledge and skills in protecting environment.
Purposes, methods, and benefits of EE are quite clear. However, shaping the awareness of protecting environment, environmentally friendly attitudes towards the environment takes not only in couple of days. According to the Interantional Environmental Education Programme, EE should start as early in education as possible. The primary school is the natural place to introduce children to EE, since as this level they instinctively have a holistic view of the environment; they have not yet been trained to compartmentalize their learning into separate subjects as they will have to do in secondary and higher education. Introducing critical thinking and problem-solving approaches in EE, especially at primary school level, is fundamental if students are to become skillful in the identification and solution of environmental problems as students and later on as adult citizens and possibly decision makers.
Figure 1 An example of the three EE approaches
The relation between EE and natural resources
Local natural resources is considered as important materials for EE. Natural resources (NR) such as land, water, air, forest, river, ocean, minerals, etc. can be considered as the objects, means, as well as goals for the comprehensive approach of EE mentioned above.
Danang owns diverse natural resources, especially resources of forest, river and ocean, with the most remarkable ones are Ba Na – Nui Chua and Son Tra Nature Reserves. Besides the emphasis on the potential use of these resources to serve the needs of developing economy and society, it is also very important to emphasize another potential: that is the use of NT in EE. NR can be objects for the EE: Children will be introduced to the surrounding environment, and local NR in the areas where they live – It is pratical and helpful in providing knowledge and forming awareness of children about the hostile environment in their living place. Besides, NR can be materials and means for EE: children can experience and discover local forests, rivers, moutains, oceans, etc. on multiple perspectives such as: the apprance, beauty, benefits, and problems such as pollution or destruction. Finally, conserving NT can be goals for EE: from experiencing and understanding of local NR as well as being aware of the local NR-related problems, children might apply appropriate actions and attitudes toward conserving those NR. Thus, the three approaches of EE using NR as objects, means, and goals are mutually supportive to each other. This is critically beneficial in educating children about NR conservation.
Suggestions for EE using local NR in primary schools
Son Tra Nature Reserve of Son Tra Penninsula, Danang is considered as the green lung of the city, and also a home to abundant resources such as fauna and flora as well as water resource. In this section, we provide a specific example about using Son Tra Nature Reserve in designing and teaching EE for primary students who live in the buffer zone of this nature reserve. The following will be suggestions for teaching and learning activities based on the most comprehensive educational approach:
EE about the Son Tra Nature Reserve
- To integrate knowledge and understanding about the Son Tra Nature Reserve into school subjects such as Literature, Vietnamese language, Science, History, Geography, Fine Art, Ethics, etc. For example: in the subject Literature, we can ask students to present their own feelings and thinking about Son Tra forest and wildlife animals living there such as the red-shanked douc langur, rhesus monkey, etc.; in the history subject, we can provide stories and information about Son Tra’s history, the Monkey mountain, Tien Sa beach, etc.
- To organize visits for children to museums, exhibitions, movies shows, organizations working in the field of saving nature, etc in order to provide extra information and knowledge related to the Son Tra Nature Reserve.
EE in/through the Son Tra Nature Reserve
- To conduct excursions, out door activities, visits to the Son Tra Nature Reserve: let children explore, observe, listen to, and contact directly amazing and interesting nature on the field. This can allow children gain useful understanding about the values and benefits of the Son Tra Nature Reserve such as: the beauty of plants such as the one-thounsand year banyan tree, or the retutuses, etc; the beauty and diverse of forest animals such as: red-shanked douc langurs, rhesus monkeys, birds, butterflies, porcupines, wild chicken, etc.; the unique sounds of the forest such as: bird singing, monky yelling, water flowing, wind blowing, etc. Or simply, children can walk, watch, and enjoy the peaceful and fresh of the forest.
- To conduct pratical expriemnts and activities to help children discover the nature of things, phenomena, and set up relations between them, thus can foster their caring attitudes to protect nature. For instance, utilizing the available resources of soil, water, air from the Son Tra Nature Reserve to conduct expriements about pollutions. Particularly, we can guide children do a test to compare the air quality between the air in Son Tra Nature Reserve area and the air in the city center area where the traffic is crowded. This activity probably raises awareness of the children about the crucial role of the Nature Reserve as a green lung for the city.
EE for the Son Tra Nature Reserve
- To involve children in meaningful and practical activities to protect the Nature Reserve such as: planning trees, picking up and recycling trash, inspring family and friends to join hands in protecting activities, as well as saying no to the not envrionmentally friendly behaviors such as: consuming or teasing wildlife animals, cutting off trees, wasting of energy, etc.
- To organize games, entertaining activities such as:
- Situation questions: If you were a ranger, what would you do to prevent wildlife poaching? What would you do if you encourtered a wounded monkey?
- Creative activities: creating art products using natural or recycled materials to enhance children’s creativity, aesthetic sense, and understanding of the NR’s values.
Buhdda said that the truth love is rooted from the deep understanding. We as adults, should have a responsibility to provide knowledge to children in order to inspire their love and responsive attitudes towards the life and the environment. Local NR are definitely the living environment where children live, play, study, and grow. Employing these NR in educating chidren, from knowing to understanding and then giving love, is one of the most effective and sustainable educational approaches.
- UNESCO-UNEP, Environmental education activities for primary schools.
- Jutvik, G., & Liepina, I. (2007). Education for change: a handbook for teaching and learning sustainable development. Retrieved February, 26, 2013.
- Hoàng Thị Mỹ Hương, Bài giảng “Giáo dục – truyền thông môi trường”, Khoa Môi trường và Tài nguyên, Đại học Nông Lâm tp HCM.
- Phạm Ngô Minh (2011), Sơn Trà, địa lý – văn hóa – du lịch, NXB Đà Nẵng.