The School Walls Teach: Student Involvement in the Green School

The School Walls Teach: Student Involvement in the Green School

Thomas DeVere Wolsey (University of Central Florida, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6312-1.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter draws on the extant literature and interviews with experts in the field as it relates to how students become involved and learn from the features of the school facility itself. In this chapter, three tiers of learning are suggested as overlapping and complementary means of learning in and from the built and natural environment. These include a reflective and visible one in which students have the opportunity to learn from features of the building through labeling, signage, and design features that foreground the design itself. Active learning opportunities are the foundation of the second approach. Involvement in green initiatives at the school and in the community is the basis for the third approach. Planning undergirds all three approaches.
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Approaches To Student Involvement

Three approaches to student involvement are established on ideas that began in the nature education movement (e.g., Cornell, 1979) and are now found in the literature of the green school. The most basic of principles, undergirding all, is that the green school “…serves its educational function” (Chan, 2013, p. 8); that is, the school itself can be the catalyst for learning and the media of instruction. Sly and Stone (interview, October 18, 2013) posed the notion that care is necessary in making the case for green and sustainable initiatives by focusing on what concerns the community beyond the campus. Sly and Stone proposed that the school itself is a resource for learning. Even places such as the school kitchen offered possibilities. That is, the community may not be immediately ready to support green initiatives, but they may be very willing to support initiatives that highlight healthy school buildings; thus, the two notions overlap and can scaffold multiple approaches to the school walls as mediators of student learning.

With this understanding, this chapter constructs a three-tiered approach to student involvement based on their experiences as occupants of the green school. Approaches include a reflective and visible one in which students have the opportunity to learn from features of the building through labeling, signage, and design features that foreground the design itself. Active learning opportunities, often as a feature of a planned curriculum are the foundation of the second approach. Involvement in green initiatives at the school and in the community are the basis for the third approach. At the heart of it all is planning.

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