Commentary: Environmental Education

When I was in college I wrote a plan for a non-profit to  work with schools to integrate environmental education in all subjects. The plan was not to take away from reading, writing, and math time but add environmental responsibility to it.

With No Child Left Behind (NCLB) taking away from everything else you can learn about in school (including gym) there needs to be a way to have environmental responsibility added to the curriculum without taking away from the need to meet the goals set out by NCLB. This proposal, which was written over 10 years ago before the wide recognition of this problem or NCLB, was for total integration.  There are so many ways the kids can learn about the environment in their classes.

Here are some examples:

  • Math- calculations of emissions per hour, how is it reduced if people car pool.
  • Reading- stories about plants and animals for young children and more advanced reading for older kids about the effects certain things have on the environment.
  • Science- obviously experiments
  • Social Studies/History- public policy discussions about legislation, write letters to politicians, review history of pollution, creative assignments asking kids how they think we should solve the problem.
  • Gym- Nature hikes, other outdoor activities

Obviously there are millions of other ways that teachers can integrate environmental education into their lesson plans without taking away the overall goal of preparing our children for tests and learning the fundamentals.

As parents of this generation are learning to adjust our lives to be more environmentally friendly our children have an opportunity to live their entire lives in a responsible way with out having to make changes. We need to lead the next generation to the right way to live while they are young so that they do not need to “change” or “adjust” like we are.

I recently read an excellent post on another blog about the recently proposed No Child Left Inside act which hopes to help children reconnect with nature and the environment and work to provide the proper funding to make this a reality. Check this post out to get the particulars on how the No Child Left Inside Act might work to meet the needs I discussed in this post.


5 thoughts on “Commentary: Environmental Education

  1. Great post! I especially like the social sciences part. Encouraging action is the first step in ensuring that we can live sustainably.

    You could check out David Orr. He writes on education: “all education is environmental education.” It’s an interesting read – although it’s, in my experience, a little hard to come by.

  2. Great post! I am a teacher and am newly learning how to integrate environmental education into the curriculum. It’s not that hard, but in the era of NCLB, which is sort of a new “Read Scare”, it’s easy to be distracted from what’s really important for students to learn when you’re threatened with being taken over by the state if your multiple choice tests come out wrong. However, there is evidence to show that EE actually helps to RAISE test scores! (Though, like any statistic of this type, it depends on how the environmental education is taught, etc.)

    Excellent blog! I’m going to put you on my blogroll, if you don’t mind. 🙂

  3. excellent post, i love the environmentally conscious tips posted on your blog as well! keep up the good works and information sharing!

    Yesterday there was a hearing about environmental education which you might be interested in seeing- it was a good day of testimony about the benefits of environmental education and outdoor learning. It was on Cspan2 again today, i posted a link to it on my blog-
    direct link to video-

  4. This post was great! I think that environmental education is something that needs to be addressed more and much much earlier in schools. I am a seniorr at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and I am taking a Social Sustainability in Business class. As a semester project we had to create a lesson plan around a few of the many environmental issues. We taught a 7th grade class and they were so receptive and interested in what was going on. I think that we do not give the kids the credit they deserve. They are more than capable of understanding and incredibly excited to learn. They really are the future so I think that teaching them is the first step in saving the planet.

  5. Clara, Merry, Nik, and Leah,

    Thanks for your posts obviously I feel pretty strongly about this topic because I worked on it over 10 years ago in college. I hope schools really do work to adopt environmental education and not just the week of Earth Day.

    Clara, I hope you are able to take the lessons you created for the 7th graders and use them in your classroom when you graduate… keep us posted or email me your progress in this I think it is of great interest to the readers of the blog.

    Thanks again!!

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