School Change and the Introduction of New Content: The Case of Environmental Education.Report as inadecuate

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Despite many different educational reform efforts, a simple pedagogy is still adhered to: students will learn what they are taught. Schooling is still teacher-centered with lecture and recitation being the practices primarily utilized. At the turn of the century, there were two established educational traditions in place. One tradition believed that schools could take a divided and diverse population and prepare students for participating in a self-governing political community. This tradition assumed a simple pedagogy and paid little attention to the complexities of teaching and learning. The other tradition drew from the Romantics and depicted education as an adventure, of opportunities for learning through solitary experiences often associated with learning about the self in relation to the natural world. Students were their own best teachers. John Dewey suggested that these two traditions could be joined. This paper explores possible barriers to change in education to include more of the second tradition and suggests that reformists might consider the idea of creating a tradition of change. Disciplinary boundaries are temporary and penetrable, and knowledge is undergoing an accelerated rate of change. An interdisciplinary curriculum requires recognition of the interdependence of knowledge and its relevance to the life of the learner. Interdisciplinary content areas such as environmental education could serve as a vehicle, a meaningful context for teaching and learning about all of the disciplines taught in schools. (Contains 11 references.) (PVD)

Descriptors: Curriculum Development, Curriculum Problems, Discovery Learning, Educational Change, Educational History, Educational Principles, Elementary Secondary Education, Environmental Education, Interdisciplinary Approach, Learning, Student Interests, Teaching Conditions

Author: Nelson, Thomas G.


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