Dissertation > Culture, science,education, sports > Education > Education

Research on Ideas of Ecological Education

Author XuXiangHe
Tutor QiWanXue
School Shandong Normal University
Course Principles of Education
Keywords ecological education idea research enlightenment
Type PhD thesis
Year 2012
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The idea of ecological education is a new educational trend emerged in Western countries inthe 1980s and 1990s. It is a response of educators to their deep concerns and worries consideringtheir endowed responsibilities to prevent the ecological crisis from worsening and affecting thefate of the earth and its beings, when the illusion of the modernization characterized byindustrialization and urbanization is broken, and the deterioration of the ecological problemsbecomes apparent. In this research, considering all kinds of restrictions and therepresentativeness of the materials, only American ideas of ecological education are studied. Theidea of ecological education will bring a new philosophy to educational research, that is, toregard the human and ecological communities as the basic object of educational research, treatthe harmonious and sustainable development of the communities as the foundation ofeducational research, and endow a natural and social mission that education should carry on itsbackThe goal of this study is to enrich and develop the educational idea, and to strengthen theinternational exchanges and cooperation. It also provides reference and inspiration to educationalresearch and practice in China.The methods used in this research mainly include literature, history, and comparison.The following are the main points and innovation of the research.Ideas of ecological education are not formed all of a sudden. They can be traced to the ideasof environmental education and sustainable education. The predecessors of the environmentaleducation and sustainable education are those of natural education, experience education,outdoor education and conservative education. Of course, these concepts are both similar anddifferent. This study gives a deep and clear definition and analysis on these concepts. This is agroundbreaking study in a sense in China.The development and prosperity of ecological education ideas have their very realistic andpractical reasons. The first is the growing ecological crisis. Of course, the emergence of ecological problems is not started in modern society, but the ecological crisis of modern societyshows new unprecedented features. The second is the drop and decay of human spirit in anindustrialized society. The ecological crisis on the one hand reflects the dysfunction and disorderof the natural world, and on the other hand reflects the fragmentation and confusion of humanbeliefs, their visions, their value preference priorities, and their loyalty system, that is, theorientation of the values of human existence shows chaos, disorder and being unbearable. Theboth sides are complementary and reinforce each other. Thirdly, the formation of ecological ideasis related to the promotion of environmental movement and international organizations. Thedeterioration of the ecological problems also attracted the attention of the relevant internationalorganizations, and they have been holding meetings to explore countermeasures, and to stimulateemphasis and understanding on this issue from governments and the public. The last unavoidablereality is that although the educational thoughts under the framework of modernization are awareof the seriousness of the environmental issues, and the current education is trying to do a lot ofefforts in order to solve the problem of environmental deterioration, but it is undeniable that themainstream educational ideas are weak and powerless in solving the problem of ecologicaldeterioration.Any educational idea has a long history and source clues, and the idea of ecologicaleducation is no exception. One source is philosophy and religion. Ecological education ideasabsorbed the concepts of the long-standing organic naturalism and principal-agent theory ofWestern philosophy and religion. In this paper the organic view of nature and the C hristiantradition of hosting theory are roughly sketched from ancient times to the present. Manyprinciples of these theories can be transformed into a factor of, or an important bridge to theideas of ecological education. Second, European and American eco-ethical thoughts provide richnutrition for ecological education thoughts. Although sometimes these eco-ethical thoughts in aliterary form show some romanticism, they enhanced the deep thinking of the relationshipbetween human being and nature, and inspired the generation of ecological education thoughts.Third, the development of modern science, especially the development of ecology as well as thedevelopment of the huge subject population of ecolo gy directly spawned the idea of ecologicaleducation. Finally, ecological education ideas absorbed the nutrients of Oriental and indigenous(especially Indian) philosophy and religion. The biggest difference between ecological educational thoughts and environmentaleducation thoughts is that ecological educators profoundly interrogate and criticizemodernization and its cultural premises and presets, rather than classifying ecological crisis as na technical level and connect ecological crisis with spiritual crisis of contemporary human beings.This study will illustrate the criticism of the presets of modern culture and the constructive ideasand suggestions of the ecological educators, such as C. A. Bowers, David W. Orr, Gregory A.Smith, and Wendell Berry.The critique of the premises of modernization and its culture is mainly concentrated in thefollowing aspects. The first critique is the mechanical worldview and anthropocentric values.Ecological educators think that the mechanical worldview makes it possible for human beings tomanipulate and control the natural world, since it not only provides the possibility of the method,but also the value premise, for human beings to conquer nature. The second critique is thesupremacy of technological rationality. Since the 17th century, science has made tremendousprogress, and thus has been extremely admired, which must be reflected in the field of educationin that scientification and rationalization are pursued with great efforts from theory to practice.The inevitable consequence is to see efficiency as life, see students as materials, see values asfacts, see philosophy as science, see morality as knowledge, see people’s thinking as rationality,and take rational knowledge as the only legitimate knowledge. The third critique is the socialview that regards individuals as the basic units of a society. The educational idea of the modernsociety attaches importance to the educated individuals, places them in a prominent position andin the center of the educational processes, and emphasizes the cultivation of their personality.Along this line of thinking, intelligence, creativity, and moral judgments are all considered aspersonal things. The forth critique is the concept of happiness in consumerism. After thebaptization of the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment, mankind has finallycompleted the disenchantment of the world, only left with a worship of the rationality andsecularism. At this point, the human heart has nothing to rely on except wandering in the valuenihility, and thus the consumer-oriented concept of happiness wells up. The fifth critique is theanti-traditional views that see traditions as obstacles, see changes as progresses. As during thetime of Enlightenment traditions were often associated with ignorance, superstition, socialhierarchy, the uneven distribution of wealth and etc., traditions have become a negative term.Ironically, the hatred of traditions itself has become a tradition, that is,“anti-traditional tradition”. Correspondingly, modern society is obsessed with“change”and“development”that areregarded as being positive.Ecological educators believe that the cultural presuppositions of modernization are the realsource of ecological crisis. The problem is that modern education and modern educationalideology also sit on the base of the value propositions and cultural presuppositions, andregenerate the cultural proposition and cultural presuppositions. The mechanisms or proceduresare: (1) to separate children from adults; (2) to separate a student from other students; (3) toseparate children from personalized and localized of knowledge; (4) to ask children to learn toyield a non-personalized authority; (5) to closely link the school with the future of personaldevelopment.On the basis of the criticism of the presupposition and premise of modern culture, the ideasof ecological education propose worldview, concept of knowledge, human nature, social values,and the significance of meanings different from those of modernization culture. (1) Inworldviews, it is advocated to move from mechanism to organism, from anthropocentrism tocommensalism. (2) In knowledge views it is advocated to move from objectivity to situationism,denying the priorities (priority correctness) of rational knowledge. (3) In the view of humannature, not only the social but also the ecological characteristics are stressed. (4) In the view ofsociety, it is advocated to move from individualism to the symbiotic ecological networks. (5) Inthe meaning of experiences, it is emphasized to move from the accumulation of materials topersonal maturity and participation in community life.The ecological education ideas build their own educational positions. First, the startingpoint for ecological education thought is ecological sustainability instead of the sustainability ofthe technology. Second, ecological education ideas relentlessly criticize that the industrializededucational model with the current professionalization and division of subjects in the centerexacerbates the plundering of natural resources and ecological crisis. Third, the fundamentalpurpose of education is to live and work in peace and contentment, instead of climb upward; is tobuild their homes, rather than become homeless. Fourth, the task of education is to promotestudent well-being and perfect local culture and ecology, instead of the one-dimensional purposeto improve students’ economic and professional competitiveness. Fifth, as for the curriculum,ecological educators propose the localized curriculum with the slow knowledge (low knowledge)as the core. Six, as for teaching, ecological educators also put forward their own proposals and ideas. Of course, different ecological educators have different views and opinions on this issue,which are discussed in detail in the paper.Finally, the research evaluates the ecological education, and on the basis of the ecologicaleducation theory it proposes enlightenment on Chinese education research and practice.Ecological education thought has the characteristics of postmodern thought, and it uses criticalmethod to reveal the consequences of western modern education. It reexplains the relationshipbetween human and the nature, people and people, people and ecological system, and builds afuture-oriented theory system with all humans and nature harmony survival as the goal. So itchanges the past education thought which only pursuits the points of the comfort and use ofnature, and it also shows the characteristics of transcendence. But there is no question thatecological education thought also present some insurmountable defects. No matter how weevaluate the ecological education, we have to admit the thought’s instructive meaning for oureducation research and practice today: (1) it promptes us to make reflection to the currenteducational value presupposition and presupposition; (2) it promptes us to reconsider the valueorientation of education purpose; (3) it helps to see the curriculum of the modern school inecological education view; (4) it helps to use the local cultural resources to educate; (5) it helpsthe reconstruction of the modern people’s spiritual home.; (6) it helps to construct the localecological education thought.

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