Environment must not be ignored

23rd June 1995 at 01:00
The special pages on values education (TES, June 9) are to be much welcomed. But in an age where children are environmentally aware, often acting as educators to the adults, the importance of environmental values seems sadly neglected.

I would advance the following: environmental education is about futures - it is about individual responsibility for the environment; education for the environment must be concerned with political education - citizenship - so that individuals understand environmental decision-making systems, where the power lies and how they can be future decision-makers themselves; pupils need to be equipped to think and act critically - for example about the messages they receive through the media and the information they receive in school.

The priority for teaching is therefore to reflect on the values being transmitted, and to appreciate the need for pupils to be allowed to clarify their own values and analyse those of others.

A global education is a priority - understanding the importance of tolerance, interdependence and sustainable development.

A school's environmental policy should not be about its physical environment alone. It is not just about whether or not the school has a pond or gives to famine relief. It is about teaching and learning strategies, about relationships, about the use of resources, about management styles, as well as about the relationship of the school to the communities it is part of. With some time for curriculum consolidation, we advocate a higher priority given to enquiry into local environmental issues, centred on real places, involve real people, statutory decision-makers and the non-governmental sector. In understanding how their local environment is being shaped and why, pupils will be given greater capability themselves to shape the society in which they will be the decision-makers.

GRAHAM RANGER Environmental Working Group The Geographical Association co 343 Fulwood Road Sheffield

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