Environmental education is a holistic process aimed at creating responsible individuals who identify environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take effective action towards environment protection. Awareness, knowledge, attitude, skills and participation are the guiding principles of environmental education.
Environmental education has emerged as an essential tool to boost the commitment, motivation, stewardship and behavior of individuals, whether young or old, towards the environment. Interestingly, environmental education can also help students in performing better in studies.
Besides education within the school system, environmental education includes all efforts to educate the public, including print materials, websites, blogs, media and social media campaigns, etc. It can be taught formally in schools, colleges and universities, or informally through NGOs, businesses, media, botanical gardens, nature theme parks and green spaces. Outdoor education, workshops, outreach programs and community campaigns are some of the informal modes of imparting environmental education.
Preparing for the Future
The world is in the midst of the most profound and rapid societal shifts in its history. The current generation of kids is the first to grow up indoors and largely detached from the natural world. To prepare a new generation of environmental stewards it is necessary to prepare children for the future they will inherit. The children of today will need to be the environmentalists of tomorrow. Environmental education reconnects children to nature in their backyards and fosters sustainable development around the world.
Role of Educators
Educators have a crucial role to play in imparting environmental education as trained teachers find it relatively easier to motivate children. Being a multi-disciplinary subject, environmental education requires intrinsic knowledge of science, history, geography, political, culture, ecology, economics and other topics. Qualified environmental educators carry out field studies, conduct programs, collaborate with students and local communities, and use dynamic strategies to link environmental awareness with responsible actions.
Programs to Consider
Educational programs aimed at children and adults are critical in fostering a healthier and safer planet. Due to more challenging learning outcomes of environmental education, it is important to supplement existing classroom practices with innovative, active and participatory techniques. Learning techniques must ensure maximum involvement and provide enough opportunities for students to experience the natural environment. Participatory activities include field visits and surveys, situation analysis, group discussions, role playing, environmental games, eco clubs, natural trails and project work.
Grassroot activities are required to generate and sustain children’s interest in environmental education. With a more directed focus and commitment towards environmental education in schools, children will need little motivation to care for their environment.