Step 5: Link the practical initiatives based on certain environmental themes to the curriculum
Besides raising the profile of the programme, linking Eco-School activities to the curriculum ensures that programme is truly integrated within the school community. The general strategy suggested is that of infusing environmental education concepts into the already existing subjects and not that of presenting a new subject. Besides raising awareness about the environment, the weaving of an environmental education dimension in a particular subject enriches the subject concerned and thus makes it more relevant and interesting. This infusion need not be a laborious task. The extent of linkage made is dependent on how the curriculum is structured and on the teachers’ willingness to engage in this initiative. Teachers might introduce environmental education principles through incidental teaching or even through planned systematic teaching aimed at covering a particular aspect of the curriculum.
The National Curriculum
Although there is yet to be an Environmental Education Policy that is ratified and introduced in the National Education Policy, environmental education has been infused since the early 1990s in almost all school subjects either through the respective subject themes, chapters, sub-chapters, units and so on. The following principles and guidelines in the National Curriculum are useful to bear in mind when carrying out infusion.
The National Curriculum advocates a learner centered education by:
a. promoting thematic teaching and interdisciplinarity,
b. ensuring relevance knowledge to the learner’s experiences,
c. encouraging active learner participation,
d. helping the development of critical thinking and participatory skills,
e. presenting an assessment policy that promotes a learner oriented pedagogy,
f. catering for life-long education, and
g. promoting a global perspective.
The National Curriculum also promotes decentralization by:
a. encouraging interaction with the community and NGO participation,
b. assigning more autonomy to schools, and
c. promoting action research.
The principles outlined in the National Curriculum mirror the basic principles underlying the Eco-Schools Programme. Participation in the programme should thus be viewed as a tangible opportunity to implement the National Curriculum.
The list below broadly illustrates some ideas how environmental education can be integrated with certain curriculum subjects. For more specific ways of integrating environmental education with various subjects in the curriculum, teachers are encouraged to visit the Eco-Schools International website http://www.eco-schools.org, or the websites of eco-schools around the world (links are provided in the Resources page)
a. discussing the various aspects of specific environmental issues
b. report writing and keeping minutes during meetings
c. writing letters to: politicians, education authorities, councilors, community leaders, newspaper editors, business persons, industrialists, etc.
a. designing and conducting surveys
b. collating results and presenting them as graphs
c. carrying out mathematical calculations
d. managing finances
a. learning to consider the environmental as a gift from God to be enjoyed by all humanity
b. considering different ways how children can become stewards of creation
c. understanding how a person’s action may have a negative impact on others
a. reading/producing maps of the school and the locality and using keys to highlight important sites
b. understanding how human interact with their environment
c. using photographs, documents, oral accounts and other sources of information to learn how certain places and lifestyle have changed throughout the years
a. making observations and gathering data about an environmental problem
b. exploring various habitats and the adaptations of plants and animals living in them
c. investigating different materials and how they are used
d. looking at energy use, loss and conservation
a. using spreadsheet software to organize and present research results
b. using publishing software to publish reports
c. using presentation software to prepare presentations about specific projects
Physical and Health Education and Civic and Citizenship Education
a. choosing healthy food and healthy lifestyles
b. developing communication skills to improve the sharing of ideas
c. developing interpersonal skills to help children work in groups
a. designing and building a waste separation point based on the various properties of the different waste fractions
b. designing and making a waste compacter
Art & Design
a. drawing murals and producing sculptures to decorate the school
b. producing posters, leaflets, stickers and badges to support campaigns
c. organizing art festivals and exhibitions celebrating the school’s progress in becoming an Eco-School