Environmental Education in a Cultural Context

Authored by: Albert Zeyer , Elin Kelsey

International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415892384
eBook ISBN: 9780203813331
Adobe ISBN: 9781136699313


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In this chapter, we contend that emotions are of primary practical importance in environmental education. They affect students' and teachers' interest, engagement, and achievement, as well as their personality development, health and well-being. By implication, they can profoundly influence the productivity and quality of life in educational institutions and in society at large. Further, we adopt a social constructivist stance, suggesting that emotions are embedded in and part of a student's introduction to the beliefs, norms, values, and expectations of his or her culture (Harré, Armon-Jones, Lutz, & Averill, 1986). In fact, the concept of cultural border crossing is well known in science education (Andree, 2005). Within this concept, problems of science learning are interpreted in terms of a clash between the culture of Western science (as represented by school science) and the way students experience science in their everyday lives; what Costa (1995) has coined “life-world culture.” A worrisome result of the lack of alignment between these cultures is student alienation from Western science. As Aikenhead (1996) puts it: “For the vast majority of students of any culture, their cultural identities are at odds with the culture of science” (p. 1).

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