Hello, my name is Tianna Macdonald and this is the story of my ESCI 302 learning journey.
Before I entered this class, I thought environmental science was a science-based course designed to promote awareness of and action towards environmental issues. What I didn’t know, was that this four-month course would change my perception of environmental science and impel me on an important learning journey.
The creative journals we completed this semester were a challenge for me, and were not a component of the course that I enjoyed. While I struggled to compose insightful pieces of text and the correlated visual representations, I am grateful for this struggle. Composing these journals challenged me to reflect on my own stories and knowledge regarding various philosophies within environmental education, and enabled me to grow in my thinking. Two journals in particular that aided in my philosophical discoveries regarding environmental education are journals one and five. Journal one uses experiences described in Robin Wall Kimerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass to link with my own experiences of connectedness with the environment, as well as explore the question Why environmental education? In this journal, I wrote “it is vital that we reflect on the significant impact we are having on our environment. This is also what I believe to be the purpose of environmental education. We must educate ourselves and others about our place in the environment, and how our actions affect it, so that we may create change in order to keep the environment healthy and sustainable for all life forms.” Reflecting on this first journal now, I realize the described feeling of connectedness to the environment can be tied back to Deep Ecology. In addition, I realize how my initial conceptions of the purpose of environmental education are situated in dominant narratives of the discipline. In journal five, I use the philosophy of feminist poststructuralism to discuss how dominant discourses reinforce or disrupt my identities as preservice teacher and environmental educator, as referenced from M.J. Barrett’s Making (Some) Sense of Feminist Poststructuralism in Environmental Education Research and Practice. In this journal, I wrote “While the dominant discourses associated with a select term might work for some, they do not work for all. It is this inconsistency that proves the value in taking a feminist poststructural approach to any term.” Here, I actively engage in philosophy to support my thinking, and it is clear I have moved beyond dominant discourses of environmental education.
The meta-reflection I wrote mid-semester has been a helpful halfway point for me in tracking my progress. In it, I acknowledged my neglect to include environmental education philosophies in my journals up to that point, as well as my repetitive ideas about human kind and the environment. Reflecting on my recent journals, my writing has changed. I now include philosophy in my writing (as discussed in my fifth creative journal), and my repetitive ideas concerning human kind and the environment have diminished. In the meta-reflection, I also discussed how I tell my own stories, but neglect to tell the stories of others. While I acknowledged others’ stories in my third creative journal, I continued to tell my own in journals proceeding that. Why do I have the tendency to focus on my own stories? This is something I can still work on throughout my learning journey.
The inquiry planning project we completed this semester was also a challenge for me, and was not one of my favourite assignments. Before this project, I only had the beginnings of knowledge as to what inquiry planning was. Through doing this project, I learned both the challenges and advantages of inquiry learning, which I believe further helped me along my learning journey. This project helped me to see myself as teacher as facilitator, not teacher as lecturer. In addition, I learned the philosophy of inquiry learning as interdisciplinary, as discussed in David Orr’s article The Problem of Disciplines and the Discipline of Problems. Though planning inquiry-based assignments can be challenging for teachers, the results of learning though experience and connecting those learnings to multiple disciplines is rewarding for both teachers and students. Through this project I learned that inquiry based learning is a great way to break the barriers of traditional learning.
The semester long embodying ecoliteracy project was my favourite assignment in this course, and provided me with knowledge and skills I will continue to use in my daily life. My group decided to collectively reduce our carbon footprint, with my individual goal being recycling. While working on this goal throughout the semester, I was able to see how my old actions reinscribed climate change through the production of carbon emissions, while my new actions were disrupting it. While reflecting on our project, my group realized the strong influence of Euro-Western culture and ways of life on our project. While we could not change this aspect, it taught us the philosophy of environmental education as a decolonizing encounter in relation to place, as discussed by Yi Chien Jade Ho in her article, Traveling with a World of Complexity: Critical Pedagogy of Place and My Decolonizing Encounters. Because of this project, I am more conscious as to how my actions affect climate change, and the impact of colonization in relation to the environment.
Throughout this four month long journey, I have come to learn the complexity of environmental education. I have learned, unlearned, and relearned many of the components present within this area of study. This course has disrupted my previous knowledge and challenged me to think in ways I had never considered before. While I have learned a great deal this semester, I feel as though my learning journey regarding environmental education is far from over. Moving forward, I patiently await the lessons I have yet to learn.
Hands with plants: http://ridasreflections.blogspot.ca/2013/07/saving-environment.html
Writing on page: http://www.praxisuwc.com
Branch coming out of book: http://recyclenation.com/2015/04/-challenges-and-importance-of-environmental-education
Tree reflection: https://montessorimessage.net/2016/10/27/reflection/
Writing on page 2: https://montessorimessage.net/2016/10/27/reflection/
Stories memories histories: http://tweakyourbiz.com/marketing/2013/07/12/find-new-customers-by-telling-your-business-story/
Question mark: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/382806037049444134/
Teacher as facilitator: https://www.lakeheadu.ca/academics/departments/education
Sprout coming out of tree stump: http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/demystifying-yoga/breaking-barriers-of-rigidity/
Recycle logo and heart: http://www.newaste.org.au/recycle.html
Saskatchewan Science Centre: http://reginainpictures.blogspot.ca/2008/09/saskatchewan-science-center-is-one-of.html
*All other pictures displayed in the video but not listed here were taken by me.