“In the middle of things”, where to begin this reflection but to start at the middle. ESCI 302 has been a challenging course for me. I am in my last semester of my undergrad degree, but ESCI 302 keeps me diligent in my studies, my beliefs, and the values that I attach to the environment. I came into this class thinking that environmental education would be similar to biology 20 in high school, but I was slightly wrong. Not that we do not learn about those great things, but environmental education goes way deeper than just the environment. The whole idea of philosophies, ideologies, paradigms, and colonization are as much a part of the environment as organisms and ecosystems. I brought my own values and beliefs about the environment when I walked into this class, but these things soon began to change as I became more aware, educated myself, and witnessed how society’s perspectives distorts my own view on our biosphere. So, I will begin to unpack how how some of these things are changing, and I will examine and reflect on my common place blog space, and how that is connected to course readings. I will analyze my own struggles, and challenges in this course, and my values and ideologies that are now being developed in my own story of being an environmental educator.
But before I begin, lets pause and reflect on the beauty of the Grand Canyon. I went there last year in April and it was an breath-taking experience.
As a slight introduction, I knew that I always had a passion and love for the environment, but it was more of an awe of shear beauty. Through my brief time in ESCI302, I have began to recognize my own development and thinking about the environment and its connectedness. When we first when to the Grand Canyon, we took picture, watched the sunrise, and explored a bit. If I were to go again, I would ask questions about the ecosystem and plant cycles combined with canyon life, and water flow. I would begin to “dive in” to the environmental aspects and the possible educational learning rather than just looking at the raw beauty of it. So even though I am in the middle of things, I am becoming more reflective of my experiences with environmental education, and how I can learn, and un-learn more. It is a beginning, a journey that never truly ends, but something that will continually strive to further my growth, and encourage others to join the adventure.
Thus, let me begin on my journey in ESCI 302 through my blog space. It has been an interesting experience blogging about my eco-literacy and what that means to me. I was really inspired in my first couple of blog posts when I read the article by David Orr(1996) that states “First, all education is environment education” (Orr, 1996, pg. 12). I was not really sure what this whole idea of being ecoliterate meant, but when I read that passage that all education is environmental education, the wheels began to turn in my brain. I still have a narrow view on eco-literacy, but Orr expanded and emphasized the importance of what environmental education should be for everyone. So when I began to wrote my next blog post, I began to stop and reflect and find the connections between my classes, my learning, and my background, and find the interconnection between all these different mediums of learning. So in this sense, Orr began to change my perspective on eco-literacy and thus began my own paradigm shift about environmental Ed. I began to practice “stillness” in a sense and find a deeper meaning and connection to EE and how I can related in my Settler Invader state. “Stillness” was a result of this deeper reflection, but also transferred to calmness that lead to clarity in my studies, direction, and vision for my goals as person, educator, brother, son, etc.
I also really developed in this class when we created a poem braid. This was a deeper level of learning because I really had the opportunity to share my poem about eco-literacy with others. The best part was to see the connections and the differences and the beauty that is revealed through this process. The idea is not to compare your stories, but to find strength and power through your stories together, which I really enjoyed (If you want check out my poem braid, click here). This activity also blended very nicely with the Coyote and Raven story (2009), where even though I felt lost reading the story, I found ways to connect the similarities, and I can “salt” the stories, yet in the differences of the story I could find mosaic that exemplified unique parts acting as a whole (O’Riley, P. & Cole).
This is the last semester of my degree, and the last thing I wanted to do was work.. And that’s what I felt this course was making me at the start. There were so many readings, journals, and blog post assignments to do. I was a little overwhelmed, but mostly I had a bad attitude. When I began to connect with the articles, and realized the implications they carried in my life, then I saw the authenticity of the tasks at hand. It was not until I saw this post by Bill Nye that examines the possibility of electric cars for NASCAR. And it was through this post that sparked the intuitive connection I now have with eco-literacy, and how it has changed my mindset and some of my perspectives, but also the paradigm shift that society is still stuck in. That is, Bill Nye’s article was in a sense a “leverage point” as Donella Meadows states, “…where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything” (Meadows, 1996, ¶ 1).
Ergo, I have worked quite a bit in this course, reflected, read, blogged, and even pondered, bu through it all, I have found a deeper appreciation for the environment, but also recognized the importance of eco-literacy in our education. Not only is it vital for a teacher to model the process of eco-literacy, but also to inspire the next generation to be literate in the ways of the environment, and ecology. As a teacher, you must firs be competent and knowledgeable about the subject of environmental education if you ever want your students to “buy in” on the theories and philosophies, and this is what this course has begun to do for me. Eco-literacy is not just a course that you take and receive a grade,but a life-long commitment and challenge to yourself, and to others to care for our environment, and ideologies of eco-literacy.
David W. Orr. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1994. 224 pp. (1996). Organization & Environment,9(4), 577-577.