Educational Reforms for the 21st Century: How to Introduce Ecologically Sustainable Reforms in Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies
By C. A. Bowers
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As people across the country are now experiencing the extreme weather conditions––droughts, tornados, floods, record breaking temperatures–– predicted in scientific reports, it is now time for teacher education and curriculum studies faculty to begin introducing reforms that enable classroom teachers to recognize when students are being socialized to take for granted ecologically unsustainable patterns of thinking. In addition to the toxic chemicals introduced by our consumer-dependent lifestyle, there is another major change that is altering the life prospects of students that also needs to be addressed in reforming teacher education and curriculum studies. That is, the long-standing tradition of replacing workers and their craft knowledge with machines has now reached a new stage of development where computer-driven production processes, as well as the outsourcing of work to the low-wage regions of the world, are now eliminating the need for workers who perform routine tasks in offices and on factory floors. Life-time employment and traditional careers, according to recent studies in the United States and Europe, will only be available for the small class of highly educated individuals. Work for the rest of the population will be low paying and characterized by continual uncertainty.
This book suggests how teacher education and curriculum studies programs can begin to address both of these life-altering changes. First, it provides an extensive discussion of the language issues that should be part of every classroom teachers professional knowledge; particularly how the taken for granted interpretative frameworks constituted before there was any awareness of environmental limits are reproduced in curriculum materials––including educational software. How to enable teachers to recognize that most words are metaphors, that they have a history that is culturally specific, and how to engage students from different ethnic backgrounds in reframing the analogs that reproduce earlier ways of thinking, are a primary focus of several chapters. Second, there are also chapters that address how to introduce from the earliest grades through graduate level classes the nature of the intergenerational knowledge and skills that are the basis of the community’s cultural and environmental commons. The importance of teachers being able to introduce students to the complex and culturally varied nature of the local cultural commons is that it provides students with alternative lifestyles that are less dependent upon the money economy that is increasingly unreliable. The book contains an extensive discussion of the teacher’s mediating role in helping students recognize the various forms of enclosure (that is, the take-over by market forces) of the cultural commons. Becoming engaged in various cultural commons activities enables students to discover talents and interests that may become the basis of life-long interests that also strengthen their sense of community. There is also a chapter on how the Social Darwinian thinking of Dewey and Freire reproduce many of the same deep cultural assumptions shared by today’s market-liberals, as well as a chapter that clarifies what classroom teacher should understand about the ideological and religious tensions within local communities––and how the use of language can neutralize their anti-democratic and anti-environmental agendas. The adoption of these reforms are in line with the 10 year agenda of UNESCO to promote educating for sustainability in teacher education programs around the world, as well as with the goals of the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education.
Praise for the book:
No one has thought more deeply about the role of education as a cause of the deepening ecological crisis than Chet Bowers. And few have thought more constructively about how to repair that breach by a thoroughgoing transformation of both education and culture. Highly recommended for students, administrator, and the concerned public.
—David Orr, Professor of Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, and author of Ecological Literacy and Earth in Mind
Chet Bowers is undoubtedly one of the most important thinkers of out time—why? He cuts through the fog of conventional educational discourse and identifies our core issue: humans depend on the Earth and each other to live a good life. It’s about time educational practices start to reflect this, and Bowers shows us how we can do it.
—Rolf Jucker, Director, Swiss Foundation for Environmental Education. Berne, Switzerland, and author of Our Common Illiteracy: Education as if the Earth and People Mattered.
Chet Bowers has been warning us for decades about the coming environmental crisis and the need for educational institutions to take notice and prepare. Bowers continues to offer persuasive arguments about the need for us to help ourselves before it is too late, and he offers a set of maps by which we may do that.
—Susan Edgerton, Professor, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and past Vice President of American Association for Advanced Curriculum Studies, and co-author of Imagining the Academy: Higher Education and Popular Culture.
Educating for an Ecologically Sustainable Future makes a significant contribution to teacher education and curriculum studies by provoking readers to seriously consider the tension between the world we are bringing forth and the world we wish to bring forth. By providing radical alternatives for classroom and community-based learning, the author makes ecologically minded forms of education possible.
—Jennifer Thom, Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, and author of Re-rooting the Learning Space
Making the transition from individual to ecological intelligence now depends upon education. The form of education Bowers promotes includes classroom and community-based learning that take account of the interconnections between language, culture, and thought—and a fresh way of thinking about intergenerational and global interdependence.
—David Flinders, Professor, Indiana University, and past President of Division B of the American Educational Research Association.
Education, Environmental Studies
978-0-9660370-1-2 (Print on Demand)
Chapter 1 Introduction to Ecologically and Culturally Informed Reforms in Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies
Chapter 2 Teaching Ecologically Sustainable Cultural Assumptions
Chapter 3 The Classroom Practice of Commons Education
Chapter 4 The Political Context of Commons Education
Chapter 5 The Need to Move Beyond a 20th Century Orthodoxy: the Social Darwinian Thinking of Scientists, John Dewey, and Paulo Freire
Chapter 6 The Teacher’s Role as a Mediator Between the Cultural Commons and Consumer-Dependent Experiences
Chapter 7 How Computers Contribute to the Enclosure of the Cultural Commons
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