Views of Environmental Educators on Teaching Environmental Education
environmental education , teacher education , views , knowledge , abilities , certification
Environmental Education (EE) can play an important role in broadening learners’ understanding of their environment. This is of particular importance due to the major adverse impact we as humans are having on the environment, including the loss of biodiversity and global warming. However, many Canadian teachers are not offered EE content in their teacher education programs (Lin, 2002). Therefore, this study investigates, (a) what knowledge and abilities are important for teaching EE, (b) experiences that have influenced educators’ interest and willingness to teach EE, and (c) the preparation educators could receive to better integrate EE into their teaching practices. Data were collected using an electronic survey (n=148) and semi-structured interviews (n=11). Results showed that among 12 major themes to emerge from the interviews, recognizing the importance of outdoor experiences and having the ability to engage learners were viewed as very important by participants. Interviewees’ recommendations for improving the preparation of educators included introducing mandatory EE components in teacher education programs and promoting mentorship experiences. However, there was no consensus among participants regarding the impact or value of implementing a professional EE certification program. Implications of this study include facilitating the sharing of environmental educators’ perspectives. Suggestions are made for further research on preparing educators who are willing and able to instruct EE, so that more students are given an opportunity to learn about their environment and make informed choices about their impact on the earth.