The Teacher's Handbook for Environmental Studies

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While I was reading David Dixon's book: Leadership for Sustainability: saving the planet one school at a time, I was surprised to come across a reference to the text by Hammersley, Jones and Perry: The Teacher's Handbook to Environmental Studies (Blandfold Press, 1968).

Surprised, not in the sense that I queried its being mentioned, but surprised that I'd not even heard of this book.  It was, of course, published before 'my time', but even so I've a habit of commenting on old environmental education books, so, yes, surprised at myself.

David didn't just provide a reference to the book, but commented on it extensively on pages 60/61 at the start of his curriculum chapter.  At the start of this he quoted this from page 7 of the text:

"[the] demand for specialist knowledge, guided by syllabuses for external examinations, tends to filter further and further downwards through the school.  The dangers of this are oft-repeated and obvious – especially the risk that the true meaning of education may be lost in a welter of isolated 'subjects".

David then listed the following, before noting that "over 50 years later, there is much in here that is relevant to education today.  It describes an appropriate way to deliver real-life, context-based, effective environmental education."

Hammersley, Jones and Perry wrote that teachers and schools should:

  • arouse children's interest in their environment and raise challenging problems connected with it
  • discuss the approach to problems or topics
  • organise working groups
  • arrange visits or expeditions
  • provide reference material for children to use
  • provide materials needed for practical work
  • arrange visits from speakers
  • discuss and guide the progress of each group
  • initiate and develop discussion and debate
  • persuade each group of children to explain their work to the rest of the class
  • provide facilities for displays or exhibitions of the work carried out
  • draw together the various aspects of the working summarise the results
  • link the work to the wider world.

The role of the child was said to be to:

  • suggest approaches to the topic
  • work as part of a small group
  • learn to handle reference material
  • experiment, investigate and discover for themselves
  • see the relevance of their own work to that of the rest of he group and of the class.

Well, I was even more surprised to find that copies still exist and I bought one from Abe Books.  As the postage cost more than the book, I concluded that it's not very popular.  Valuable though.


I'll be commenting on David's book in a while.

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