Ecologising education Essay
For this assessment you are required to write a 2000-word interpretative essay. Your discussion should be based on research-based evidence, and thus you are required to integrate evidence from scholarly sources to support your argument.
This task is assessing your ability to demonstrate that you meet the criteria for the following unit learning outcomes. Students will be able to:
summarise the scope and purpose of educating for a sustainable future
analyse the concept of ecological literacy and articulate the benefits and limitations of being eco-literate.
You are required to write an essay about ‘Ecologising Education’ that specifically addresses the following:
It could be argued that when one thinks deeply about the future, that this thinking provides possibilities to change behaviour in the present. With that in mind: analyse and discuss the benefits and limitations of ecologising education now, and in the future.
Throughout the essay you will:
Consider the value of ecologising education and teaching sustainable perspectives.
Discuss the potential benefits and limitations of becoming eco-literate for teachers and young people.
Summarise what you believe can be achieved in education in primary and early childhood, now and in the future.
You must demonstrate clarity and understanding of the topic and offer interpretation of the issues and implications together with a very high level of scholarship. Presentation, format and structure must be of a professional standard.
Long onto Swinburne online Blackboard and click on sustainable eduction perspectives for all information and resources required to complete this essay.
Sustainable education perspectives: Ecologising education
Ecology is the study of the relationship between living things and includes the desire of humans to determine their connection with the physical environment. It also attempts to discover the connection between plants, animals and the world around them (Courchamp, Dunne,Le Maho, May, , Thébaud, & Hochberg 2015). The study provides information about our ecosystem and how we can use the earth’s resources in ways that will still benefit future generations. The discipline looks at the relationship of habitats of different sizes and ranges from the simple study of microscopic bacteria often found in fish tanks to the complex relationships between plants and animals found in areas such as deserts. This paper explores the value of ecologising education especially among teachers and young people while also exploring its benefits and limitations.
In ecology, the most important lesson is environmtal conservation. Students get to learn that we lose about an acre of rainforest, which is about 116 square miles, every second. We lose a further 72 square miles due to encroaching deserts caused by human activities such as overpopulation and mismanagement. Additionally, we also lose about 40 to 100 species of plants within a single day (Merkel, 2009). The situation is only made worse by the facts that the average daily population growth rate stands at approximately 250,000. Moreover, the daily injection of chlorofluorocarbons and carbon to the atmosphere stands at approximately 2,700 tons and 15 million tons. Such are considered among the most harmful substances to the environment’s biodiversity.
The value of ecologising education and teaching sustainable practices
The fact is, most of the things upon which our future depends are in great jeopardy. These include productivity of the natural systems, climate sustainability, biological diversity and the beauty of the natural world. Surprisingly, such risks are not the work of the ignorant within the population but the direct consequence of the actions of some of the most educated individuals within the society. Therefore, the question arises as to what is wrong with the present education system that seems to ignore the very important concepts that it is meant to impart. Most scholars also question why the system seems to emphasize on theories other than actual value and concentrate more on abstracts rather than consciousness.
Therefore, for most parts, the current education system is not best equipped to prepare us about how we think of our natural world. It is thus not a guarantee of prudence. A continuation of the same kind of education will only compound the ecological problems presently witnessed in the world today. The issues that face us are so large when compared to the 1900s that the worth of education when measured against the decency of human survival is not enough to alleviate such problems (NSW National Parks and Wildlife. 2003). Hence, what is required is different sort of education that incorporates eco-literacy within its curriculum.
Potential benefits of becoming eco-literate for teachers and young people
Ecology specialists such as statistical, marine and vegetation ecologists avail important information about our world. The information helps in improving our environment, management of our natural resources and protection of human health.
A practical example of how ecology improves the natural environment is the research conducted in 1969 by ecologists on lakes in Europe. They were able to identify that the main cause of poor water quality in the water masses was the presence of large quantities of nitrogen and phosphorous which mainly originated from fertilizers and laundry detergents. With this information, the surrounding communities were able to come up with methods of restoring their water bodies to conditions that once more allowed for swimming and fishing (Day, Crump, Kemp, & Yáñez-Arancibia, 2012).
Similarly, in Florida USA, nonnative species of plants threatened the lakes, forests, and croplands of the surrounding ecosystem. The new species, such as the kudzu vine, destroys the ecosystem by competing with the plants and animals growing indigenously in the area. Also, the gypsy moth, which is originally from Europe wreaks havoc through eating or defoliating leaves on trees when they attack in their great numbers. Initially, such pests were fought off using toxic chemicals that also harmed surrounding foliage (Van Andel, 2013). However, through research, ecologists were able to develop ways of targeting the moths at vulnerable stages of their life cycle thereby controlling their numbers.
Ecologists discovered that wetlands and marshes act as natural filters for some toxins and impurities in water. Therefore, communities can take advantage of such discoveries and leave some of these intact. Such actions can save on the building of filter systems which serve the same functions (Vellend, 2010). With such new ideas about our ecology taught to young people, future generations will have the option of building fewer treatment plants.
Also, a study on some plants reveal that they develop chemicals which protect them from diseases and predators. Scientists have harvested some of these chemicals and used them to treat diseases affecting also humans. An example includes the Pacific Yew tree which produces chemicals that aid in fighting cancer. Also, the hemolyph, found in horse shoe crabs, is used in treating leukemia.
Another example involves the control of Lyme disease which is caused by a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from certain ticks. Studies by ecologists revealed that people are more likely to suffer from the infection when acorns are plentiful. Deer and mice that feed on these acorns spread the ticks. Therefore, more acorns means more likelihood of infections within the respective community. Research by ecologists revealed this connection and they were able to predict the likelihood of the possible location of the next infections. Hence, they developed sufficient warning systems alerting the communities to be careful while outdoors (Vellend, 2010).
Managing natural resources
In the United States, some of the nation’s endangered species have either been brought from the verge of extinction or have had their populations stabilized through ecological research. These include the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle as well as other less known species such as the Virginia Big-Eared bat and the American Burying beetle. The researchers have ensured successful reintroduction methods, captive breeding and greater understanding of the species.
In managing forests, the study of ecology has is slowly being integrated into the traditional forest science. Ecological studies have shown that fir plays a key role in maintaining the ecosystem of certain types of forests. Using this knowledge, ecologists can therefore use controlled fires to curb costly and unpredictable wild fires (Van Andel, 2013).
Solutions in agriculture
Biological control in agriculture is the use of natural enemies as predators to pests that damage crops. The method is based on the knowledge of the pests and when and where the biological controls are most effective against them. Such methods help to alleviate the damage to crops by insects, decrease the complications that come with pesticides and help save money (Palmer et al., 2004).
In fishing, research reveals that estuaries are the perfect breeding spots for most fish and therefore should be conserved. Ecologists have also discovered obstacles such as dams that hinder the movement of fish downstream to their breeding spots thereby reducing their population. With such information, ecologists are able to develop appropriate strategies that chart a clear way around obstacles and therefore protect the breeding sites used by fish (Day et al., 2012).
While there are several benefits to becoming eco-literate, financial struggles may limit both the learner and the teacher. Adopting green solution sis often expensive and hence most organizations often consider it as the last option. Also, traditionally, subsidies from the government towards ecological studies is often minimal therefore making the cost of research and learning to be extremely high. Such discourages most teachers and learners leading to fewer numbers of educators or learners in ecological courses (Courchamp et al., 2015).
Lack of research on some section s of the environment may also make some companies skeptical about adopting proposed ecological solution since they are not sure of how such strategies may affect their organizational objectives (Grimm et al., 2008). While forming their strategies, companies often prefer knowing exactly how the new method may affect their operations. Hence, with no clear reference, most disregard proposed ecological methods which discourages researches and young ecologists.
Also, it is hard to find ways of and convincing an entire population to change their way of consumption especially when they have a busy lifestyle. Moreover, the emotional attachment some of the members of the community develop towards the environment they live in makes a shift towards a more ecological lifestyle a difficult job. Some of the targeted population may also not be as responsive as others especially in reusing objects (Gordon, 2011).
The first step towards understanding and appreciating the relationship that exists between the different components of nature involves fostering emotional and ecological bonds with nature. By teaching such values to the young generation when they are still at their curious age, the education system works to breed a new ecologically conscious generation who appreciate their environment and understand why its conservation is of importance. According to Capra (1996), such measures prepare the students to acquire a role as active participants to a sustainable economy and a healthy world.
Unlike the past ages, the systematic understanding of nature using evidence-based approaches has emerged as the fore-front of science. Ecologist try to develop methods of understanding the mechanism used by nature to support the complex web of nature that has evolved over billions of years. Within the education systems, this often involves the use of multidisciplinary approaches that aim at creating sufficient emphasis to the learner on the importance of environmental conservation and the intervenes of various ecological features. For instance, learners get to understand how matter flows through the cycle of life and the importance the sun plays as the center of that ecological cycle.
Through the study of natural experiences such as the flow of energy, the web of life and the cycles of nature, learners can grow to appreciate their roles within the ecosystem. They get to understand their place within the ecology and learn how they can embed the conservation of the flora and fauna within their social systems and culture. Therefore, Chalwa (2008) proposes education that enhances the awareness of children to their environment therefore encouraging them to take action on its behalf. He also poses the important question of the role of the community in supporting the learning action before proposing an ecological approach to psychology with the aid of research that appreciates those committed to environmental conservation.
Finally, ecological education helps teachers and young people appreciate value and build their sense of responsibility towards their environment. This acts as a catalyst for them to transfer theoretical concepts into practice (Young, & Moore 2010). Through ecological intelligence, they are able to apply what they have learnt on the ecosystem in a way that avoids the previous mistakes carried out by mankind and, once again, create an environment that is sustainable for a productive coexistence. Such an endeavor promotes the main goal of ecological literacy which involves a deeper transformation of process, scope and substance at all levels of education.
In conclusion, ecology taught to teachers
and the young people safeguards the future of our planet. They grow up with a
clear understanding of their role in the environment and modern way of handling
problems that have long ailed the environment. Armed with the right tools of
knowledge, the young generation can make it a culture to adopts practices such
as re-use of materials and better safer ways of pest control thus becoming true
champions of the environment through ecological literacy.
Capra, F. (1996). The web of life: New scientific understandings of living systems. New York: Anchor Books.
Chawla, L. (2008). Participation and the ecology of environmental awareness and action [Abstract]. In A. Reid (Ed.), Participation and learning (pp. 98-110). ). [e-book]: Springer.
Orr, D. (1992). Ecological literacy: Education and the transition to a postmodern world. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Courchamp, F., Dunne, J. A., Le Maho, Y., May, R. M., Thébaud, C., & Hochberg, M. E. (2015). Fundamental ecology is fundamental. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2014.11.005
Day, J. W., Crump, B. C., Kemp, W. M., & Yáñez-Arancibia, A. (2012). Estuarine Ecology. Estuarine Ecology. doi:10.1002/9781118412787
Gordon, D. M. (2011). The fusion of behavioral ecology and ecology. Behavioral Ecology. doi:10.1093/beheco/arq172
Grimm, N. B., Grimm, N. B., Faeth, S. H., Golubiewski, N. E., Redman, C. L., Wu, J., … Briggs, J. M. (2008). Global change and the ecology of cities. Science (New York, N.Y.), 319(5864), 756–760. doi:10.1126/science.1150195
Palmer, M., Bernhardt, E., Chornesky, E., Collins, S., Dobson, A., Duke, C., … Turner, M. (2004). Ecology. Ecology for a crowded planet. Science (New York, N.Y.), 304(5675), 1251–1252. doi:10.1126/science.1095780
Van Andel, J. (2013). Vegetation Ecology. Vegetation Ecology: Second Edition, 203–232. doi:10.1002/9781118452592.ch7
Vellend, M. (2010). Conceptual synthesis in community ecology. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 85(2), 183–206. doi:10.1086/652373
Merkel, J. (2009). Chapter 12: Sharing the earth, in S. Alexander (Ed.), Voluntary simplicity: The poetic alternative to consumer culture (pp. 207-217). Whanganui, NZ: Stead and Daughters Ltd.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife. (2003). Biodiversity for kids: Stage 2 Science – Teacher’s Guide. Retrieved fromhttp://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/education/biodiversityteachersguide.pdf
Young, T., & Moore, D. (2010). Healthy biodiversity is no luxury – it’s the foundation of all life on earth. Retrieved fromhttp://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Biodiveristy_fact_sheet.pdf