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Furman University

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and the Environment

Abstract

Environmental Education (EE) has become increasingly important in Australian public and governmental discourse in the past decade. In its most recent national environmental education statement (2005: 7) the Department of Environment and Heritage lays out a new model of sustainability education that is “about,” “in,” and “for” the environment. This governmental framework includes variety of programs for school children in and out of the classroom. Within the realm of EE, sense of place has re-emerged as an important issue. The study of place fosters a sense of wonder and appreciation for the environment in children and leads to concrete, transformative action later in life (Wilson 1997). Among the range of techniques used to teach environmental education issues, storytelling can be powerful because it allows people to share ideas and helps students make meaning out of their surroundings. Given the importance of environmental education and, more importantly, sense of place in education, as well as the usefulness of literature to teach environmental topics, the goal of this project is to create a storybook about sense of place for children ages six to eight. The book will not only entertain children but inspire them to connect with and think about their own community as well. Four methods were used to collect the information necessary to write the children’s book: analysis of theoretical writings on sense of place, qualitative content analysis, participant observation of environmental education centers’ (EECs) programs and research on how to write a children’s book. The last week of data collection was spent creating, writing and developing a layout for the final book. Content analysis and participant observation reveal the issues discussed most frequently with primary school children as: Australian native species, life cycles, invasive species, conservation, Aboriginal use of the land, change and growth, respect for culture and wonder and discovery of nature. The most common techniques used by educators and authors to convey environmental issues are repetition, metaphor, descriptive language, facts, unusual names/words, suspense and the use of all the senses. Furthermore, research on sense of place reveals that it involves the relationship between a person and their beliefs and actions and the built and natural environment around them. The final product, “Something Fishy” uses characters and techniques similar to those found in the books reviewed for the content analysis. However, the setting and approach to sense of place are somewhat different, with “Something Fishy” emphasizing community and relationships rather than the natural environment.

Disciplines

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Environmental Sciences

 

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