Attached is an extended version of the editorial I have contributed to the 100th edition of NAEE's Environmental Education. Quite a milestone.
The text looks back to what HMI were saying in 1979 about environmental education and the curriculum in their Curriculum 11-16: supplementary working papers. When I re-read this text last year, I was struck just how neglected the arguments are, and by how pertinent some of them remain. The document begins by stating that environmental education …
“is to be regarded as a function of the whole curriculum, formal and informal … furthered through established subjects and by courses in environmental science and environmental studies which in varying degree are interdisciplinary. There is a common purpose in these to foster an understanding of the processes and complex relationships which effect environmental patterns, together with a sensitivity to environmental quality and a concern for the wise and equitable management of the earth's resources."
And it ends with HMI emphasising the importance of subjects:
“It is the proper part of academic disciplines to establish the main conceptual frameworks within which progressing learning and increasingly sophisticated understanding may be developed.”
… adding that separate or combined subject approaches are both valid and necessary. Significantly, however, they return to an earlier point and add:
“There is also a responsibility to ... recognise that the needs of the individual and of society require co-operation (however devised) in the study of many significant issues, or something will be lost.”
This certainly implies that the single subject approach has its limitations, and limits. Thirty-three years on, that is a truth still to be fully appreciated – as is the focus that HMI placed on stimulating social (as opposed to individual) action.
So it seems pellucidly clear that, not only do HMI’s musings remain valuable, but that there is also still an important job for NAEE to do. The text is here: NAEE EDITORIAL.