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Environment and Values Education
Jul 1, 2016

My grandmother did not waste anything; she always repaired our clothes not to waste any of them. My mother follows in her mother’s path; she washes plastic bags and uses them again and again until they are no more reusable. I do not remember if my grandmother was literate. My mother is literate, but only graduated from primary school.

Both of these ladies were ecologically conscientious, even though they never received an education about the environment. Despite this, I would have thought that by now, decades later, there would be more of a focus on environmental education (EE) in schools. And though a search on Google Scholar shows a lot of research about EE, it doesn’t show a ton of applications of EE in contemporary schools.

EE perspectives are present in many ideologies, such as ecopedagogy, egocentrism, anthropocentrism, autopoiesis intrinsic value theory, ecofeminism, green socialism, eco-Marxism, etcetera (Lummis, 2002). And yet I am interested in EE programs, and there are shockingly few of them.

Value education is based on cognitive and affective development. The main aim of education, according to value education, is to create a “good citizen” for a “good society” (Lickona, 1999; Rest, 1974). The most important side of these education programs is to develop self-awareness, helping people to become aware of the larger world (Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002, p.257; Rest, 1974, p.461).

Awareness is directly related to ego development, and to thinking critically. Experimental programs are needed, and a person’s cognitive structure needs to interact with the environment to develop their ego. The main subject here is being “interactionist”  (Rest, 1974). I would like to define this term, environmentally, as “to have an interaction with the natural environment and to have individual outputs.” I understand that in terms of EE, value education should trigger environmental awareness.

There are experimental studies ongoing in the hopes of achieving environmental awareness. Unfortunately, none of these studies mention value education. This is a shame, as the typical properties of value education (Rest, 1974) and EE overlap: to develop responsibility and awareness, cooperative learning, to think critically, and to develop behavioural changes in the long-term.

Value education should be an important part of EE because educational philosophy plays a critical role in shaping teaching programs. Teachers and administrators should first think about the philosophical roots of their aims. Rest (1974) says that value education is based on the thoughts of Plato, Hegel, Dewey, and Piaget; in other words, “progressivist” approaches. Pierre Walter (2009) also mentions the progressivist origins of EE.

We should not forget that we first encounter value education in our families. Value education and EE may also be evaluated in terms of education children learn from watching adults/parents. A lot of research highlights the importance of parental education (Kasapoglu and Turan, 2008; Gokdere, 2005).

Unfortunately, current research shows there is a gap between theory and practice in EE (Bolstad and Baker, 2004; Elliott, 1999; Hart and Nolan, 1999; Mansaray, Ajiboye and Audu, 1998). This gap may close with the use of value education, but there is significant overlap between the two disciplines. Using one to develop the other is a method that has not yet been tried, but could lead to future improvements in both disciplines.

Gokdere, M. (2005). “A Study On Environmental Knowledge Level Of Primary Students In Turkey”. Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 6, Issue 2.
Hart, P. & Nolan, K. (1999). “A Critical Analysis Of Research In Environmental Education”. Studies in Science Education, Volume 34’ Issue 1, p. 1-69.
Kasapoglu, A., & Turan, F. (2008). “Attitude Behaviour Relationship In Environmental Education: A Case Study From Turkey”. International Journal of Environmental Studies, Volume 65, Issue 2, p. 219-231.
Kollmuss, A., & Agyeman, J. (2002). “Mind The Gap: Why Do People Act Environmentally And What Are The Barriers To Pro-Environmental Behaviour?”. Environmental Education Research, Volume 8, Issue 3, p. 239-260.
Lickona, T. (1999). “Character education: The cultivation of virtue”. In Charles M. Reigeluth (Ed.), “Instructional design theories and models (Volume II)”. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey.
Lummis, G. (2002). “Globalisation: Building A Partnership Ethic For A Ecopedagogy In Western Australia”.  Australian Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 27, Issue 1, Article 2, 1-1.
Rest, J. (1974). “Developmental Psychology As A Guide To Value Education: A Review Of "Kohlbergian" Programs”. Review of Educational Research, Volume 44, Issue 2 (Spring, 1974), p. 241-259.