Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

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Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Environmental education and environmental learning I 2.5

327

people’s experience and motivation so that problem

and action-oriented learning can take place on the

basis of experience. Furthermore, ethical aspects and

a specific link to everyday life must be incorporated.

Knowledge components

Imparting knowledge about the topic of biological

diversity is not the sole, and certainly not the all-sufficient,

task of environmental education. But it is

nevertheless necessary particularly since educational

practice has shown that there are still major shortcomings

in this regard. These relate first of all to

morphology that is now rarely taught in biology

(Mayer, 1994; Flury-Keubler and Gutscher, 1996),

and secondly to the communication of ecosystem

functioning with the explicit inclusion of biodiversity.

Imparting knowledge about the importance and

function of biological diversity should take account

of the insights given us by psychology of learning:

• It should link to experiences of the learner. What

that means must be examined anew for each target

group. The concerns of the target group must

be analysed and considered in an open and sensitive

manner. For trainees in fisheries different

concepts will be developed than for pupils in a

secondary school. Matching learning content and

learning methods in this way is an important prerequisite

for the success of educational measures.

For this reason sufficient resources need to be provided

in order to plan and update learning strategies

and to constantly adapt them to changed

practice since the characteristics of target groups

change. This is clear from the example of a group

of school pupils – hardly uniform (Jugendwerk der

Deutschen Shell [German Shell Youth Organization],

1997). Here, one cannot simply assume, as

classic pedagogy would perhaps urge one to do,

that a subject’s direct environment constitutes an

attractive place of learning or even a relevant link

to everyday life (de Haan, 1998).The challenge for

the teachers is to create contents specific to subgroups

that is not just presented according to their

own style of thought and life.

• It should allow the learner sufficient creative

space for his/her own experiences, ideas and priorities.

In this sense, infrastructural parameters

(timetables, teaching forms) should be able to be

handled more flexibly and demonstrate openness

to participatory approaches.

• The content should be presented from as many

different perspectives as possible (interdisciplinary

treatment) so that the factual interlinkage of

problems can also be represented cognitively and

can thus lead to a deeper understanding of the

facts.

• Other topics and objectives that the learner finds

attractive should be used. For example, the internet

seems to be a particularly attractive learning

platform for young people, this should be used

intensively for familiarization with the topic of

biological diversity. Use of the internet also allows

for international and intercultural exchange as is

currently being realized for example under the

GLOBE project (Seybold, 1999).

• The ability to think systemically and in a complex

way must be promoted by means of suitable methods

(games, computer simulations).

Experiential components

Empirical studies provide indications that sensory

experiences with nature (landscape, plants and animals)

play a role in promoting a person’s readiness to

conserve nature (Klee and Berck, 1993; Eigner and

Schmuck, 1998). People who like to spend their

leisure time within nature (walking, bird watching,

camping) demonstrate more environmentally

friendly actions than people who have less frequent

contact with nature (Nord et al, 1998). Children and

young people with intensive experiences of nature

consider on average environmental threats to be

more serious, show greater dismay and higher

responsibility for environmental situations and a

greater readiness to behave in an environmentally

friendly manner than children and young people with

a less intensive experience of nature (Mayer and

Bögeholz, 1995, Bögeholz, 1999). Experience of

nature can be made in different ways and different

contexts (Table I 2.5-1). Particularly the ‘ecological’

and ‘instrumental’ types demonstrate a high level of

motivation and strong intention to act in an environmentally

friendly manner for the promotion of which

existing educational institutions (pre-schools and

schools) provide a host of opportunities. It should

also not be overlooked that experiencing and familiarizing

oneself with nature also fulfils important

social functions. It is not the nature experience alone

that is decisive, but also the fact that it can be shared

with a reference group (Szagun et al, 1994).

These differing experiences of nature that go hand

in hand with intensive experience of nature should be

promoted in the context of environmental education

measures, and also evaluated.

Value components

The way ecosystems function does not allow one to

derive normative statements (Chapter H).Therefore,

the discussion of values and ethical aspects in connection

with the educational objectives of ‘strengthening

the readiness to participate politically and

acquire competence in the evaluation and risk assessment

of products, projects, programmes, develop-

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