Nature education doesn’t always have to entail long treks, or visits to supposedly pristine ‘natural’ areas. If we accept that we are part of the larger ecosystem, Nature is observing us, rather than the other way round. We can only reciprocate through guiding our senses to observe, appreciate and love the dynamic connections teeming with life, and death. Even a small potted plant nestled within a concrete jungle is a site of interesting activities, if one were to pay attention. Children don’t need to be told to love Nature, they need to participate in it. These are the lived experiences which add up to environmental perspectives. Researcher Louise Chawla interviewed a number of people working in the environmental sector, and found that most of them traced their motivation to work in the field to childhood experiences. As educators we need to design experiences that foreground the space and time for unmediated observation. After all, too much time has been spent on trying to know, and we are not left any wiser for it. So, why not try awe instead?
References: Chawla, L. (1999). Life paths into effective environmental action. The journal of environmental education, 31(1), 15-26. Chawla, L., & Hart, R. A. (1995). The Roots of Environmental Concern. NAMTA journal, 20(1), 148-57.