A critical environmental education consists of developing, not only among youth, but the population in general, the capacities to analyze educational propositions regarding the environment and dominant environmental discourses to decode hidden ideological orientations, the beliefs and interests that direct them, and which implicitly tend to reproduce the practices that are nevertheless the ones that would be necessary to shift to a different kind of relationship between nature and human beings. The reference to science and technological transfers as the main answer to defining and correcting the problem is insufficient to correct a situation that requires that humans also question the philosophic foundations, sociological, political, and economic dimensions of the regulation of climate. To reproduce the same economic logic is denounced by many as incapable of correcting the shameless exploitation of nature and human beings that are at the heart of the environmental crisis.
Edgar Morin proposes principles and a philosophy for complexity, the consideration of the other, and acknowledgement of uncertainty in the scientific domain. This approach offers a vision of the world rethought concerning connections with nature. These principles provide different educational aims than the principles of education for sustainable development, prescribed in many educational ministerial programs on the international level. Education for sustainable development might reproduce a narrow vision of nature as just a resource for better management of economic development of the world.
Environmental education is different, and strives for different goals, geared to the age of the target audience, the pupil. In many North American school systems, environmental education generally begins with science education, the learning of scientific knowledge and principles, such as biology, chemistry, physics, or ecology. Many teachers rely on the idea that a better understanding of sciences can lead to better protection of the environment. That postulate is of interest, but it is not enough. Environmen tal education must be institutionalized to reach its aim of social transformation.
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