“All education is environmental education” if I am going to take anything away from this past semester, I am proud to say that it is that very important quote from David Orr. I am so grateful that I was able to experience this class post internship because of the constant process of reflection that we underwent. I was continuously looking back on my teaching experience and thinking of ways that I could have been a better environmental educator. For me it was tremendously important to be thinking about my experiences and reflecting on my life as both a teacher and a human being while I was filming the video. Originally I was going to film a skateboarding video and talk about my reflection over top of that but I changed my mind. Skateboarding is an interest of mine right now but when I was younger my bicycle was my best friend. I use to rid my bike everywhere. As soon as the snow started to melt I would get my dad to take down my bike so I could go cubbing. I think that by riding a bike instead of my skateboard I was immediately in a better state of mind to think about the environment. Riding my bike also allowed me to practice Friluftsliv, a concept I am rapidly learning to love. One of the things that I thought about while riding my bike was how I received very little environmental education as a child. Most years we would go on one field trip, and then on earth day the entire school would go out into the neighbourhood and pick up trash. That is essentially the exhaustive history of my former environmental education. Now that I have taken this class I have certainly learned the importance of getting a class outside and helping them form a love for the environment. I learned that children will not want to help the environment unless they first learn to love it. As someone in the elementary program of education I think this is an incredibly important concept. I cannot force my students to try and save the environment. Instead it is my responsibility to give students the love of nature and their environment that they can use in the future to be a part of the change. Another thing I am learning to love is practicing stillness. I did it twice while filming this video once at the beginning and then again at the end. The first time I did it for about two minutes and then at the end I practiced stillness for about 5 minutes. I really enjoy practicing stillness because there is always so much to look at and think about in nature. At the end of the video I took off my shoes and stared out at the lake watching the ducks but then I looked down at the water just under my feet and realized how amazing nature is. There was so many tiny bugs and other creatures that we often do not think about when we talk about the environment. It made think about the day that we all posted photos of environmental education and I posted a photo that had a elephant a gorilla and some other “mainstream” animals on it. These are often the animals that we think about first when it comes to nature but there are so many other tiny creatures out there that are just as impressive and important.
Personally I love the idea of student led inquiry. What I don’t love is planning for it. Inquiry is considerably more difficult to plan for than your standard lesson. Adding in the element of a group makes it even harder to create a unit plan that scaffolds from one lesson to the next (although I am glad this was a group unit because it meant considerably less planning). It was very clutch that I was in a group with Eylish because we are very like minded and we also both have experience in a classroom this allowed us to lead our group to a successful unit. I think that our unit did a good job of meeting all of the criteria required for this assignment, however I do not think that it has real world teachability. This is primarily because we have five lessons that would all take more than one class period to complete focused on only one outcome. In a real classroom you are simply not budgeted enough science time to focus on only one outcome for such a long period. What I do like about the unit is that all of the lessons are teachable as a standalone lesson that a new more practical unit can be built around. If I was entering a grade four classroom tomorrow and had to teach a science lesson I would certainly reach into my back pocket and use the lesson that I contributed to our group unit.
A few words about my visual – in an attempt to switch up my medium from colouring with pencil crayons I went out and found some leafs on the ground then taped them to a piece of paper. I then spray painted the paper gold and removed the leafs. In my head the idea sounded awesome but it ended up looking pretty bad. I’m proud of myself for trying though… That has to count for something right?
This action learning project appeared to be an enormous undertaking on it’s surface. I imagine many groups of people would have found the action learning to be frustrating and unpleasant. I think because I had such good group members that this assignment was actually fairly easy for me. Working with Reagan and Reed was very enjoyable. I would go so far as to say that having group members I got a long with and felt comfortable working with was more important than having a shared topic of interest. Working with these two people I am confident we would have been able to find common ground and create a meaningful action even if we did not have an obvious entry point.
I learned a lot about myself during this assignment. The biggest thing that I learned was that I did not need my phone — or any other electronics — to get through the day. Before this assignment I could not imagine going an entire hour without using some sort of electronics. I also learned something about the environment. For example I had no idea that a fairly decent portion of Saskatchewan’s power comes from hydro dams.
All in all this was a very positive and enjoyable assignment that I got to complete with awesome people.
This is a picture of a dirty creek. Every spring the dry creek bed that snakes through the Katepwa seasonal campground is flooded with water from the melted snow. The creek runs next to a golf course and from the time I was 10 until the I was 18 I spent many summer days scouring the creek bed for golf balls, snakes, and good walking sticks. For the two – four weeks that the creek is filled with water I would try to ride down the slow moving creek in a dingy or on a knee board. These stunts only become more extreme and less successful as I get older.
About ten feet to the right of this picture is where my campsite is. This campsite belonged to my grandparents for many years before they passed it on to my parents. In many ways I grew up in this campground. I learned how to BBQ, I learned how to ride a bike and drive a car. Most importantly I fell in love with the outdoors. This campground has become a sanctuary for not only me but my friends as well. It is a place where everyone is welcome and there will always be a hot dog on the grill with your name on it.
Don’t bother calling because I won’t answer anyways. Just come on down to the sunny cove.
As an educator this class is so important to me because it is changing the way that I look at the other classes I am taking. The most important thing that we have covered in this is the recurring theme of “all education is environmental education” (Orr, 2004). It seems like this idea can be related to all of our class discussions. It also makes me think about other things such as is all education treaty education? I would argue that yes it is. Every time we teach a math lesson and do not incorporate treaty education into it we are telling our students that it is less important than math. The same concept applies to environmental education.
I am in no way a perfectionist. Far from it. However when it comes to creating art I am more than aware that I do not posses the fine motor skills to feel confident with anything I produce. That being said I do hope to start to put myself out there more when it comes to creating meaningful blogposts. I have used pencil drawings for all of my posts thus far and I think I am ready to step out of the box I have put myself in and try a new medium. This is a perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at something like painting when my peers will also be putting themselves in a vulnerable situation.
In my last blog post I skirted around the idea of how I can actually give back to nature. That does not mean that I have not been thinking about how we should give back and say thank you anytime we go into nature. During my group field trip I thought about the fact that I should have brought some tobacco so that we could give it to the land. Instead I did my best to be thinking constantly about the environment and how even if I am only making a small contribution at least I am doing something. As an educator saying thanks is something that I have unknowingly brought into my teaching practices already. During my internship my class adopted a tree and we went on bi weekly nature walks. During these walks we would bring our math and literacy homework and stop at the tree to do some of it. Before anybody could start working I would make the class sit and think about how they are thankful for their environment and what they felt when they were in nature. A huge reason as to how I was able to do this is because I had a very supportive co-operating teacher. I do not know if taking 30 kids on a nature walk is something that is feasible for me when I have my own classroom so my biggest question is how can I take children into nature without the support I had during internship?
When I was writing my braid and my love letter I was continually thinking of all the people I know who are not eco literate. The people who have little to no eco literacy certainly outnumber those who do. Other than Sydney, who I wrote my love letter to, I do not think I have a single other friend or family member who is truly eco literate. While that is absolutely a sad thought I cannot help but to think about who is at fault for this utter lack of knowledge in our society. The next thing that I wondered was if it is my responsibility to make the next generation succeed where the generations before have failed? Is it my job to create a mass appreciation for the environment for every single one of my students? That is no easy undertaking. Even if I do take this on, what happens when I am in a building with other teachers who are not as passionate about their environment as I am? All of the hard work that I or someone like me puts in to create eco literacy can easily be undone the next year.
When I started drawing this I tried several times to draw people a peace pipe together, I quickly realized that was outside of my artistic ability. Instead I sketched a picture of a fire with an image. To me the fire represents life. Fire gives life and takes life away. For many ecosystems fire is crucial to replenish the soil and give new life to the environment. I think that this fire can also represent a way to ask permission for being on the land. When you smoke a peace pipe you require fire and many First Nations rituals required fire. In many ways the fire is a metaphor for the destruction of the environment caused by humans, but it can also be a symbol for how we can save the environment if we take the right steps.
A common theme in all of the love letters, poems, songs, etc. was education. This is probably the case because we are aspiring teachers. The three letters/poems that I chose to braid were Eilysh, Kayla and my own. We all talk about education as being an important part of creating and sustaining eco literacy. In Kayla‘s acrostic poem, one of the points she makes is: “Teaching your friends and family about the environment, your environmental ways and sustainability is an increasing interest to you”. This speaks to me because it was closely related to one of the traits I throughly admire about my girlfriend in that she is constantly seeking out education about the environment. Kayla and Eilysh both talk about loving the environment and spreading that love. I think this is something that is implied in my love letter because I don’t think that anybody would try so hard to make the environment a better place if they didn’t love it. Eilysh really exemplifies this love when she tells her sister that her “love for the environment is contagious”.
One my favourite things about how my letter relates to Eilysh’s poem is that we both mention that it is unrealistic for one person to think they can change the world. In my letter I say that Sydney’s “life goal to end pollution and save the world may be a little far fetched but is enviable never the less.” Meanwhile Eilysh calls her sister Chloe naive for thinking she can change the world.
I think that all of these people that we envy are prime examples of people that have been prepared to be valuable members of a sustainable society. (Capra, 2007, pg 9) That is probably the biggest thing that relates them all and makes us take notice of their eco literacy.
Capra, F. (2007). Sustainable Living, Ecological Literacy, and the Breath of Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 12(1), 9-18.