How can we take environmental education seriously?

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations

This is a follow-up to my post last week about the King's research and the seeming impossibility of expecting government to take environmental education seriously.

If we cannot trust government to do the decent thing, what can we do?  Trust ourselves, perhaps, and work with willing allies to create a groundswell – a movement of NGOs, teacher associations, trusts and others to promote what is necessary: young people who are aware of the issues and committed to do something about them by working with others.

But you have to wonder why this hasn't been done already when so many such organisations say they are already involved.  There are reasons for this.

One is that there are two obvious problems.  The first is the geography / science divide; the other is the global learning / environmental education split.  The first of these is fundamental if you work in a school where geography and  science are separate disciplines, albeit with overlaps.  This is a long-standing separation and hard-wired into our thinking.

The second is more recent and arises from a split in government between environmental protection and socio/economic development – DEFRA and DfID in our case which often are seen to pull in opposite directions.  The shift from environment  to sustainability  has brought this to the fore, and it's global learning that has the lions' share of the spoils in recent years.

Another reason is the self-interest of the organisations involved who are willing to share and collaborate, but only up to a point, and where institutional self-interest outweighs the collective common good.  This applies as much to NGOs as it does to business.  That is what Kant might have termed the crooked timber of institutions, had he thought about it.

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations


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