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 ofthe insights given us by psychology of learning: • It should link to experiences ofthe learner. What that means must be examined anew for each target group. The concerns ofthe 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 ofthe 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. Useofthe 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-
328 I Global biosphere policy Table I 2.5-1 Dimensions of relations to nature. Source: Mayer and Bögeholz, 1995 Individual orientation Cultural context Area under consideration Organisms Activities Enquiring Science Characteristic species, Natural scientific studies systematic groups and hobbies Ecological Nature conservation Endangered and protected Ecological commitment, species nature conservation activities Instrumental Economy Crops and livestock, Gardening, hunting, fishing, wild fruits, mushrooms harvesting Aesthetic Aesthetics Houseplants, ornamental Walking, nature photography, plants, natural aesthetic drawing nature, gardening objects Social Animal partnership Pets, sporting animals Keeping and breeding pets, animal protection activities, sports with animals ments, etc’ (BLK, 1998) is essential for any appropriate treatment ofthe subject. Learners must not just gain insight into their own value positions in relation to nature and biological diversity and be able to rationalize these, but also learn to understandthe diversity of existing andoften contrary interests and values. They should learn to adopt the perspective of other people and negotiate tenable decisions in cases of conflict (conservation versus use). The concept of life-long learning and target-group specific content The way people deal with nature is something that they learn and practise from earliest days (WBGU, 1994, 1996). A large number of educational institutions and formative reference groups participate in the process of life-long socialization and learning. These include pre-schools, schools, vocational training and profession, other networks and groups (NGOs), the family, friends and neighbours. The treatment ofthe topic ‘conservation ofthe biosphere’, if it is going to be successful, must be done in a target-group specific and adaptive manner to suit each stage of education. That means that the content must take into consideration the level of knowledge andthe background of experience ofthe respective recipients and link in to everyday contexts. People take in new information actively, interpret it and compare it with knowledge or convictions they possessed before. Palmer (1995, quoted after Environment Canada, 1998) found in her studies that children already had clear ideas when they entered school about far flung environments and also possessed concepts of biodiversity, and that this knowledge influenced the interpretation of new information and experiences. The evaluation of model experiments in Germany has in many instances demonstrated the importance of integrating educational content into the worlds in which specific target groups live (de Haan et al, 1997). In general, it is less of a case of conceptual deficits with regard to adequate environmental education than shortcomings in the transfer of those concepts into educational practice. Here, enhanced further training for teachers andthe dismantling of structural barriers must be employed, but beyond that also greater incentives for effective educational practice. Particular target groups In many conventions, but particularly in AGENDA 21, reference is made to the importance of specific target groups for the realization of sustainability goals. For the conservation ofthe biosphere certain relevant groups may be enumerated: • Particular educational products should be envisaged for women since they have a central role in terms ofthe organization of household and family and so as a rule have a major influence on consumption decisions (purchase of food, clothes, etc) but are also responsible for shaping the conditions of socialization and for raising children. They therefore have a great decision-making power in relation to sustainable consumption, and in their educational role they also exert influence on the development of new attitudes and lifestyles. The outstanding role of women in the development of sustainable patterns of production and consumption has been discussed frequently (WBGU, 1998a) and should be reflected in educationrelated measures under development cooperation.