“Green” Teaching and Learning in Schools

“Green” Teaching and Learning in Schools

Jack Blendinger (Mississippi State University, USA), Leigh Ann Hailey (Louisville Municipal School District, USA) and Donna Shea (Mississippi State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6312-1.ch013
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Abstract

This chapter addresses the importance of shaping the school's teaching and learning culture to exert a powerful influence on students in regard to environmental conservation. The chapter presents 19 successful and practical examples of “teaching green” in action contributed by practicing elementary and secondary school teachers. How to contact the contributors is also provided in the chapter.
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Ecological Sustainability: Shaping School Culture

We believe that developing an ethical commitment to environmental conservation in students, resulting in valuing ecological sustainability, starts with shaping the school’s culture. Every school has a culture. In some schools, the culture strongly encourages environmental conservation; while in other schools, commitment to conserving the environment is laissez faire at best (Blendinger, 2006).

Also, we know from our experiences as three educators whose combined time of working in schools exceed the century mark that guiding beliefs and values are the heart of a school's culture. Why? Because they provide a sense of direction for those who comprise the school’s teaching and learning community: students, teachers, staff members, administrators, and parents. Members of the school community gain great strength from the beliefs and values guiding the instructional process because they define the fundamental character of the school: in regard to environmental conservation, the belief-values concept translates into promoting student behaviors (e.g., tossing or not tossing trash out of car windows) that either support or do not support ecological sustainability (Deal & Peterson, 2009; Schmidtz & Willott, 2002).

It has been our experience, however, that a school’s guiding beliefs do not create themselves. Values do not occur willy-nilly. They must be carefully and systematically developed by the adult members of the school community.

We believe that student awareness regarding the importance of conserving the environment can be significantly fostered through project-based learning, featuring hands-on student activities.

In the environmental conservation realm, project-based learning (PBL) provides an alternative to what constitutes a text-driven and paper-based approach to learning about ecological sustainability. PBL integrates knowing and doing. Not only do students gain content knowledge, they also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results through hands-on activities. Valuing ecological sustainability is caught, as well as taught (Miller & Spoolman 2013; Schmidtz & Willott, 2002).

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