Environmental education : can it be integrated into New Zealand schools?
The purpose of this report was to determine whether or not environmental education can be integrated into the curriculum of New Zealand schools. My main objectives were: • to identify the generic requirements necessary for the integration of environmental education into schools; • to examine the context in which environmental education is developing in New Zealand and briefly, internationally; • to identify and discuss the issues surrounding the integration of environmental education into New Zealand schools; • to recommend a strategy for progressing environmental education in New Zealand schools. An interdisciplinary approach was adopted in order for the diversity of perceptions, interpretations and interconnections which exist within the environment to be taken into account and to enable comprehensive decision-making to occur. The report is based around a generic framework which outlines the requirements for integrating environmental education into schools. These requirements are: • a national policy or strategy; • trained teachers; • a flexible education structure; • a supporting infrastructure and funding; • an environmental education knowledge base; • attitudes consistent with the underlying philosophical basis of environmental education. The New Zealand context was applied to this framework to determine whether environmental education could be integrated into New Zealand schools. New Zealand met only one of the requirements outlined above: a flexible school curriculum. The integration of effective, long term environmental education into schools necessitates that all of the requirements need to be satisfied. Therefore, it was concluded that New Zealand is not conducive to the integration of environmental education into the school curriculum at present. The issues hindering integration were identified as: • a lack of government support and political will; • barriers within the education system; • a lack of coordination and exchange of information; • a lack of knowledge and understanding. In order to address these issues and to progress environmental education in New Zealand schools, the following strategy is recommended (in order of descending priority): • Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Education clarify whose responsibility it is to formulate national guidelines for environmental education in schools. Consequently, guidelines should be developed and a discussion document released for public comment. Guidelines need to take into account the encompassing nature of environmental education and emphasise education for the environment. • The Ministry of Education, in liaison with the Ministry for the Environment, investigate ways to incorporate the principles of environmental education into pre-service and in-service programmes for teachers to increase the quality of teachers and to promote communication between disciplines. • Funds be targeted by Ministry for the Environment to: • establish a central coordinating body to act as an information clearing-house; • establish mechanisms which facilitate/promote information exchange between schools, research bases, local government, and central government. • The Sustainable Management Fund be explored and used by organisations, such as NZAEE and local authorities, to provide funding for developing initiatives and undertaking research for environmental education in schools. • Ministry for the Environment investigate the potential of environmental education to promote effective participation under the Resource Management Act to increase public awareness. • Investigate the possibility of establishing incentive schemes III schools to promote environmental education in schools.... [Show full abstract]