Welcome to my digital story meta-reflection. My narrative attempts to illustrate how ESCI 302 has affected my discourses, made me rethink about certain topics, and points out reoccurring themes within environmental education.
I have reinterpreted my blogs throughout the semester that illustrate my understanding of “systems thinking” (Capra, 2007, p. 13) necessary for Earth’s sustainability. Capra (2007) wrote, “Communities of organisms, including both ecosystems and human social systems such as families, schools and other human communities, are living systems” (p. 11). In doing this assignment, I recognized that Dallas Valley is a community/social system, as well as the community in Collingwood. I described community activities that take place at my cabin in CJ4; “I … have campfires, go for boat rides, go to the hamlet’s BBQ … all of which happens with neighbours/family friends or my family, my community” (CJ4: My Eco-identity Through My Community, 7/3/2017). Sometimes “community projects interpret only one individual or group’s experience … sometimes the key to understanding the interpretation, are not considered” (Curthoys, 2012, p. 174). I connected with communities/ social systems within my life and I’ve learned that systems thinking leads to sustainability of the Earth as one giant systems; communities are required for sustainability.
The sense of community and group action sparks a collective effort, as Capra (2007) explains, “Engagement with projects in which their actions have consequences generates in students a strong motivation and emotional connection. Instead of presenting predetermined, decontextualized information, we encourage critical thinking, questioning, and experimentation” (p. 18). The Embodying Ecoliteracy project is an action learning project; taking action is required. The process has produced an emotional connection of hopelessness to save the environment; it has made me think pessimistically about how I struggle to reduce plastic usage, so it seems unattainable for all humans to do. In addition, while participating in action learning, the corresponding journal entries forced me to unlearn the dominant discourse that Western science typically does not involve reflection.
Overall, my understanding and beliefs about interdisciplinary and inquiry-based learning, as a resistance to anthropocentrism, has evolved. I was hesitant to attempt interdisciplinary teachings and projects, especially with Treaty Education, because it seemed difficult and had the notion that it would take away from other subjects. My hesitance of these themes is illustrated in my blog posts as I do not discuss these themes throughout the semester. As a student, I was not good at connecting various subjects and seeing their value in such a way. As David Orr (2004) explains,
The great ecological issues of our time have to do in one way or another with our failure to see things in their
entirety. That failure occurs when minds are taught to think in boxes and not taught to transcend those boxes
or to question overly much how they fit with other boxes. (p. 94-95)
The inability for myself to see the correlation of subjects made the Inquiry Planning assignment seem intimidating and impossible, but it was the exact opposite. I co-facilitated a lesson about Indigenous mathematics with Treaty Education, an idea that challenges Western ways of learning. To my surprise, once we had an idea, the lesson flowed well. The interconnectedness of subjects seemed to come naturally, and I learned that interdisciplinary teaching can be possible for any subjects, not just science.
The Inquiry Planning with EE Philosophy assignment has encouraged me to rethink the discourse of an environmental educator. Being able to teach a mathematics lesson, with EE, Science and Social Studies outcomes, have enabled me to challenge the discourse that “women are traditionally not thought to be qualified to teach geography, social studies, science, or mathematics. Instead, women are expected to teach Health, English and other humanities” (CJ5: Define ‘Woman’, 15/3/2017). “I fit the traditional expectation of a female teacher, because I am not interested in those subjects, but I am not choosing to agree with the cultural narrative” (CJ5: Define ‘Woman’, 15/3/2017). I want to disrupt the discourse of what an environmental educator is by purposely choosing to not fit the mold.
The hope and despair philosophy within Embodying Ecoliteracy project and In the Middle of Things Meta Reflection has allowed me to rethink the purpose behind my actions to help the environment. My Embodying Ecoliteracy project connected to The Lorax; The Lorax is in despair about the diminishing trees in the environment. Similarly, I was is in despair about the harm that plastic causes to the environment; contributions to climate change through CO2 emissions, interfering with water ways and animals’ habitats. By being in despair about the state of the Earth, I feel that I must save the Earth, an anthropocentrism way of thinking. Also, I have rethought the connection that despair and action learning projects have, something that I hadn’t considered before. In my Meta Reflection I wrote, “reducing plastics … adheres to the anthropocentrism philosophy because it is often a ‘save the planet’ action encouraged in elementary education” (“In the Middle of Things” - Meta Reflection, 11/3/2017). Although reducing plastic is a good start, the Embodying Ecoliteracy project has made it possible for me to realize that that alone won’t save the Earth. Ecoliteracy among society will contribute to ‘saving the Earth’, or at least, reducing causes of climate change.
Ecoliteracy illustrates being connected to the environment, the opposite of ecophobia. I wrote in the Creative Journal 4, “When I was younger, I was intrigued by the frogs and snakes [at my cabin], I wasn't ever grossed out. And as I got older, I became afraid. Why did my eco identity slowly change, even though the things I was scared of later in life I had done many times before?” (CJ4: My Eco-identity Through My Community, 7/3/2017). This makes me wonder if, and how, schools reproduce ecophobia. Did school diminish my ecoliteracy? The creative journal process has made it possible for me to express my ideas visually and through writing to become more ecoliterate. I thrive from both way of learning, so this activity has been especially memorable and helpful by combining both mediums. I am continuingly improving my ecoliteracy, however, there was a time in this semester when I was not ecoliterate; I did not follow through with the challenge to explain to others as to why reducing plastics is beneficial for the environment. I was hesitant do so because of the social attitudes towards people who come across as activists, such as the Lorax, “[Who] spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy” (Seuss, 1972, p. 20-21). There is room to grow within my eco-identity.
ESCI 302 has been a “place of learning, … [has given me] a sense of self as well as [helped me to rethink my social and cultural positions [which have] … emerged [throughout the semester]” (Ho, n.d., p. 6).
Capra, F. (2007). Sustainable Living, Ecological Literacy, and the Breath of Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 12 (1). p. 9-18.
Curthoys, L., Cuthburtson, B., & Clark, J. (2012). Community Story Circles: An opportunity to rethink the epistemological approach to heritage interpretive planning. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 17, 173-187.
Orr, D. (2004). The Problem of Disciplines, p. 94-98.
Yi Chien Jade Ho. (n.d). Traveling with a World of Complexity: Critical Pedagogy of Place and My Decolonizing Encounters, p.1-16.