As I complete the first half of this course, I am beginning to reflect on what I have learned and where my knowledge is leading me. Re-reading my assignments and blog posts has been crucial in this process, and has helped me to reinterpret and extend my understanding of course themes and messages thus far.
While re-reading my posts and assignments, I considered the place of environmental education philosophies in my writing. While I had many recurring ideas concerning the environment, none of them directly related to the philosophies discussed in class. Why have I unknowingly neglected to include such philosophies? Should I make place for them in my future writing? What I did notice however was the incorporation of Deep Ecology through engagement with my peers. In my first blog post, Sua provides comments connecting my post to a description of Deep Ecology by saying, “Your experience reminds me of the outdoor activity we did yesterday. Taking a deep breath, feeling the cold air touching my skin, calming down myself and focusing on what I can hear from the nature surrounds me – it was simple yet very meaningful time for me as being in nature is something that I am lacking of in daily lives”. In addition, I contrasted my braid with McKaila’s poem, which also alludes to Deep Ecology through the lines “You will appreciate nature by being quiet and still, feeling you senses explore and your heart start to fill”. It is interesting to see the ways environmental education philosophies are (or are not) present in my writings.
As I continued to review my work, I also noticed the repetition of many ideas concerning human kind and the environment. For example, blog posts 1, 2, and 3 all mention the idea of connectedness with nature, which Robin Wall Kimerer describes in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (216-222). Blog post 1 and my love letter mention that humans are a part of the overarching structure that is the environment. Both my love letter and braid touch on the intricate process of the environment. Finally, the notion that humans are primary contributors to climate change and that we must realize our impacts in order to preserve the earth is a highly repetitive idea, occurring in blog posts 1 and 2, and well as my love letter and braid. By noting the repetition of these ideas, I noticed how they are all interconnected. Why do I have these ideas about the environment? Where do they come from? It is questions such as these that are prompting me to further examine my own knowledge.
Another step in my reflexive process was looking for types of knowledge I was (and wasn’t) acknowledging. For the most part, all of my works were unintentionally constructed around Euro-Western ways of knowing (scientific knowledge) and ideas about the environment (ex. the environment as a place for exploration, touring, adventure, etc.). These issues are addressed by Liz Newbery in Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring contested spaces of outdoor environmental education. In addition, I told my own stories of the environment in blogs 1 and 3, but whose stories did I neglect to tell? It wasn’t until my third blog post that I began to disrupt my own stories and preconceived narratives by acknowledging other ways of knowing, worldviews, and narratives. By acknowledging this “other”, I realized that there was an other. The place of my own stories, worldviews, and narratives existed on the basis that there was an “other”, a side I neglected to acknowledge up until this point.
Reviewing my work also caused me to question its relation to my embodying ecoliteracy group project. What connection do my embodied actions have with my blog posts and knowledge learned thus far? One realization I made was that the overall aim of the project was an attempt to “save the world”, an ideology expressing that the only reason to take care of the earth is so that humans may continue to live on it. This is a very human-centered way of thinking, which can be problematic in our motivations for taking care of the earth.
As I transition into the latter half of the course, I take my reinterpretations and realizations with me. I know I am still on my journey to understanding more about environmental education, and I am unsure as to where this journey will lead me. What I do hope however, is that I can one day bring this valuable knowledge with me into my own classroom.