What Shapes Us?

What we believe transcends our thoughts and integrates into the way we teach.  Our values are passed to us from our community members, parents, teachers, and society (Moser, 2007). Through these values, our actions spring forth.  We are products of our community, and our community is shaped by the idea of our home space.  The people and values that surround us growing up, shape who we are going to be (Moser, 2007).  How do our previous experiences effect how we shape future students in different places?

Teachers have a variety of reasons for teaching (or not teaching) environmental education (Hart, 2003).  In some schools it is not necessary or required to teach environmental education.  While this is not true for my school, there is no established environmental curriculum.  This means teachers’ perceptions of environmental education dictate what and how they teach (Bengtson, 2010; Hart 2003).  How we perceive what we teach can lead to how we engage students.  Through critical self-reflection we can better understand what we believe, which allows us to think about how we engage our students.  Bengtson (2010) says it is critical that we are aware of both our perceptions and our setting when we engage in environmental education.  Are we better environmental educators if we believe environmental education is worthwhile?
As teachers move around, they may not have acquired the knowledge necessary to teach relevant environmental facts.  This dissonance between knowledge and applied values may hinder how expatriate teachers engage students in EE.  Sammel (2005) asserts that knowing who we are as environmental educators is a first step in understanding our educational program. Through interviews with my co-teachers, I can learn more about what they know about our new to us tropical environment and how that relates to what they choose to teach in class.  The perceptions of our shared place effect how we teach about the environment; therefore, we may need to learn more about our new homes before creating an effective program.
Experiences also help to shape our value system.  As expatriates, we have all come from different places, and believe different things. While many of us who travel experience similar occurrences, our previous experiences shape how we perceive our life in our new home.  I wonder how significant life experiences shape who we are as educators (Chawla, 1999; Anderson-Patton, 1980)?  


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Anderson-Patton, V. (1998). Creative Catalysts: A study of Creative Teachers from their own Perspectives and Experiences. (Dissertation) Retrieved from Proquest Dissertations and Theses UMI number 9838453

Bengtson, K.H.M. (2010). Elementary Teachers’ Perceptions of Environmental Education. (Dissertation) ProQuest Dissertations and Theses UMI number 3434324

Chawla, L . (1999) Life Paths Into Effective Environmental Action, in Journal of Environmental Education, Fall 99, Vol. 31, Issue 1
Hart, P. (2003) Teachers Thinking in Environmental Education: Consciousness and Responsibility
Moser, S. C. (2007). More bad news: The risk of neglecting emotional responses to climate change information. In S. C. Moser & L. Dilling (Eds.), Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change (pp. 64-80). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Sammel, A. J. (2005). Teachers’ understandings and enactments of social and environmental justice issues in the classroom: What’s “critical” in the manufacturing of road-smart squirrels? (Dissertation) ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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