Cultivating Ecological Generosity and Sustainability in Elementary Youth and Student Teachers via Children's Books

Cultivating Ecological Generosity and Sustainability in Elementary Youth and Student Teachers via Children's Books

Laura B. Liu (Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9348-5.ch015

Abstract

Teacher candidates enrolled in a Civic Science for Elementary Schools course at a public university in a Midwestern state developed children's books on ecological diversity and sustainability. The children's books were analyzed qualitatively using constant comparative analyses that involved analyzing each book's images and text for evidence of key themes. Analyses demonstrated children's book creation as an instructional pedagogy and ecological diversity and sustainability as curricular content powerful to enhance ENL student engagement, identification, and learning in a new cultural, linguistic, and ecological setting. Book creation involves narrative and visual explanation of key concepts accessible to ENL learners. Ecological diversity and sustainability are values shared across regions and can enhance ENL student identification with a new school context, while valuing their knowledge funds. The public library emerged as a supportive glocal civic space to build pedagogical bridges among teacher candidates, elementary schools, and the shared community resource of children's books.
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Introduction

Diversity is a vital quality and recognized value across globally local contexts, including many U.S. schools of teacher education identifying with 21st century ideals (Spring, 2017). As teachers and schools of education seeks to cultivate greater understanding and appreciation for diversity, it is also important to cultivate in students a practice of civic responsibility, particularly practices that are driven by genuine affect and concern, beyond a mere desire to out-perform classmates or colleagues on standardized tests or other unilateral measurements of value. K-12 education and teacher education are becoming swept up in a testing movement taking over teaching and learning in the U.S. and abroad (Spring, 2017). Yet, testing and the testing movement is limited in ability to cultivate appreciation for diversity and responsibility, and may even hinder this.

More is needed for glocal societies.

Ecological sustainability is one of many human responsibilities vital to the well-being of all, in both local and global contexts. Elementary education and teacher education are potential spaces for cultivating greater appreciation for and responsibility toward ecological diversity. Research is needed to examine and document the implementation of elementary ecology education, and its ability to shape student identification and engagement in one’s civic space. In particular, more needs to be understood about how this vital body of pedagogical work is able to engage and connect elementary ENL and other students who may be at risk of classroom and curricular marginalization, as a result of immigrating from other cultures, languages, and regions.

This study explores how the development of children’s books may be an effective pedagogical tool to engage elementary students and teacher candidates in exploring and cultivating values and practices for ecological diversity and sustainability, while cultivating language skills.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ecological Diversity: The biodiversity and ecosystem variations within a region, and the broader impact this biodiversity has on its larger regions and, ultimately, the planet.

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