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The Problem of Environmental Education

The Problem of Environmental Education

By Cristian Frers

To understand what environmental education is, it is convenient to explain what it is not. One can teach concepts about this problem, but not environmental education.

To understand what environmental education is, it is convenient to explain what it is not. For many people, this is a concept that is difficult to understand. Many people speak or write about teaching environmental education. This cannot be done. One can teach concepts about this problem, but not environmental education.


The lack of consensus on what environmental education is may be one reason for such misinterpretations. Outdoor education, conservation education, and nature study are often topics considered environmental education. At the same time, part of the problem is also due to the fact that the very term environmental education is a not entirely appropriate name.

Actually, the term Education for Sustainable Development would be a more understandable term, as it clearly indicates the purpose of the educational effort: education about sustainable development, which is actually the goal of environmental education.
Environmental problems have accelerated and worsened in recent decades, in a context in which economic globalization imposes new guidelines for the production and consumption of resources. In this context, education is a useful and necessary way to maximize environmental education and training in different areas of society, from those who have important decision-making in their hands, to citizen levels, in which daily action has a direct impact on the environment.

Education, training and research constitute a strategy aimed at the formation of a new environmental culture that affects consumption preferences and patterns of coexistence.

The components of Education for Sustainable Development are:

A) Ecological fundamentals: This level includes instruction in basic ecology, Earth systems science, geology, meteorology, physical geography, botany, biology, chemistry, and physics. The purpose of this level of instruction is to provide the student with information on terrestrial life support systems. These life support systems are like the rules of a game. Suppose you want to learn to play a game. One of the first tasks you need to do is learn the rules of the game. In many respects, life is a game that one plays. Scientists have discovered many ecological rules of life, but new rules are often discovered. Unfortunately, many people do not understand many of these ecological rules of life. Many human behaviors and developmental decisions seem to violate many of them. An important reason why the field known as sustainable development education was created is the perception that human societies were developing in ways that broke the rules. It was thought that if people could be taught the rules, then they would play the game by the rules.

B) Conceptual awareness: How individual and group actions can influence the relationship between human quality of life and the condition of the environment. That is, it is not enough for one to understand the life support systems (rules) of the planet; one must also understand how human actions affect rules and how knowledge of these rules can help guide human behaviors.

C) Investigation and evaluation of problems: This involves learning to investigate and evaluate environmental problems. Because there are too many cases of people misinterpreting environmental issues, many people find themselves confused about what is the most environmentally responsible behavior. Is cloth diapers better for the environment than disposable diapers? Is it better to have your purchases put in a paper bag or a plastic one? The energy recovery of discarded resources, is it environmentally responsible or not? The answers to such questions are seldom straightforward. Most of the time, specific circumstances and conditions complicate the answers to such questions and can only be understood after careful consideration of much information.

D) The capacity for action: This component emphasizes equipping the student with the necessary skills to participate productively in solving present environmental problems and preventing future environmental problems. It is also charged with helping students understand that there is often no one person, agency, or organization responsible for environmental issues. Environmental problems are frequently caused by human societies, which are collectivities of individuals. Thus, individuals turn out to be the primary causes of many problems, and the solution to the problems will likely be the individual (acting collectively).

An adequate process of Education for Sustainable Development should lead people to acquire a more objective vision of the functioning of the society to which they belong, and of human societies in general. In addition, it should encourage her to take a more active part in the life of the community, raise her desire to assume her share of responsibility and make her understand that the first rule in managing natural resources is to avoid waste.

Education for Sustainable Development is an effective instrument to achieve that unavoidable challenge that is assumed in daily work, making citizens responsible for the natural, cultural and social environment in which they live. The growth of this discipline must be based on the sensitivity and awareness of broad groups of professionals - scientists, technicians, teachers - as well as on the incorporation of the environment into institutional policies.

In this order of ideas, education for Sustainable Development has a very important role in the formation of individuals, since it facilitates the construction of meaningful knowledge and the appropriation of the realities in which all social groups operate.

This process should be based on "learning to learn", which includes experiences where play, action and direct contact with the environment are the fundamental pillars. It allows children to enter the process of bio-literacy. From an early age the child should be instilled with the first ideas about the conservation of flora, fauna and other components of the environment. The teacher must carry out his work in a way that forms in the students, respect, love and interest for the conservation of all the elements that make up the environment. At school and at home this conservationist consciousness of the man of tomorrow must be forged.


The child grows and develops under the influence of a complex teaching-educational process, in which the school fulfills a social mandate that has the objective that the future citizen receives education and education, and is integrated into the society in which he lives. a harmonious way, politically and ideologically formed in correspondence with the principles of our society. In this sense, the child must be educated so that he fully occupies his rightful place in nature, as a component element of it. He must understand that he is an integral part of the ecological system and that, as such, he has duties to fulfill.

In addition, education and training for adolescents and adults should be offered. The program must include workshops for children, workshops for teachers, short courses, seminars, national and international symposia and talks.

This process is aimed at the community in general and is outlined as an orientation of issues related to development processes that tend in the short, medium and long term to establish tools that prevent the natural deterioration of natural resources and integrate awareness changes in the forms of conduct, always towards the environment to achieve sustainability.

Humanity has recently become aware that the Earth, our habitat, has limits and is fragile. In light of the explosive growth of the world population, the enormous technological progress, the uncontrolled use of resources and human activities, intolerable pressure is exerted on the environment; An important factor that distinguishes modern society from those that preceded us is the rate of changes to which the environment is subjected and the universality of its consequences.

Ecology, pollution, deforestation, flora and fauna trafficking, pollution, hazardous waste, ozone layer, alternative energies and quality of life are terms that, at present, are read and heard continuously. This has a positive aspect, which is the awareness at all levels of the existence of real and serious problems, both in the present and in the future.

It is important to be aware that the prevention of humanity and the quality of life of future generations depend, to a great extent, on the options and alternatives that human beings provide during their own lives:
-We must develop instruments for analysis, reflection and action aimed at understanding, preventing and correcting the damage suffered by the environment. This should include the search for concrete actions or at least a deep reflection on preventive, curative or alternative solutions for environmental problems.

-That it is possible to reconsider the responsibilities to be assumed, individually and collectively, in order to jointly solve the problems.

-You must acquire a basic knowledge on how to solve environmental problems.

-That it is understood that man is inseparable from his environment, in such a way that altering it will have an indirect effect on man himself.

Each individual can be a reproducer of the conservationist message, set an example by not throwing away garbage and always looking for recycling as an alternative for saving and protecting the environment.

Education for Sustainable Development channels and guides all concerns that exist to protect and conserve the environment, offering consistent tools to communicate messages that achieve the necessary change in the attitude of each individual, which guarantees that existing resources can be enjoyed. for future generations. www.EcoPortal.net

* Cristian Frers.
Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Social Communication.
Tte. Gral. Juan D. PerĂ³n 2049 7th. 55.
(C1040AAE) Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.
Argentinian republic


Video: Do We Need to Re-frame Environmental Education Curriculum? Mohammed Zawid Naseem. TEDxUWCChangshu (July 2021).