Schooling and environmental education: Contradictions in purpose and practice

Stevenson, Robert B. (2007) Schooling and environmental education: Contradictions in purpose and practice. Environmental Education Research, 13 (2). pp. 139-153.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


[Introduction] A number of authors have observed a pronounced discrepancy between the problem‐solving and action‐oriented goals associated with the contemporary philosophy of environmental education and an emphasis on the acquisition of environmental knowledge and awareness in school programs (Childress, 1978; Greenall, 1981; Maher, 1982; Robottom, 1982; Volk, et al., 1984). Content analyses have revealed that curriculum materials commonly used for environmental education in Australia and the United States of America deviate from the rhetoric in a similar way (Robottom, 1983; Stevenson, 1984). In this article I argue that this rhetoric–reality gap is to be expected given the traditional purpose and structure of schooling. A discussion of its historical development sets the contemporary concept of environmental education in the context of the political activism of the environmental movement. The socially critical and political action goals of environmental education are contrasted, first, with nature study and conservation education, and then with the uncritical role of schooling in maintaining the present social order. The need for students to engage in ideological and critical inquiry is indicated by an examination of the different ideologies which underlie proposals for environmental reform. Such educational ideals, however, conflict with the dominant practices in schools, which emphasise the passive assimilation and reproduction of simplistic factual knowledge and an unproblematic 'truth'. These practices are then explained by examining the structural organisation of schools, the primacy of demands on teachers to maintain order and control, and teachers' presuppositions about knowledge and teaching.

Item ID: 19477
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1469-5871
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2011 01:23
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 8
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page