Education as it relates to the Environment

In February, I posted an entry in which I discussed my “pursuit of academic direction.”  Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating lately as I try to pin down exactly what I want to do with my life.  Through my self-evaluations and the “assistance” of numerous time-consuming yet worthless online career profile quizzes, I have been analyzing my passions and skills in hopes of determining that one perfect career that was practically designed for me.  I have experienced feelings of anxiety, confusion, and frustration as I have mulled over detailed career descriptions and job prospect reports, and I still haven’t figured it out quite yet. 

Nine months later, I think I have found that one career.  Based on my interests in education, Spanish, linguistics, and the English language, I am strongly considering teaching English as a Second Language.  I cannot even begin to express the feelings of satisfaction, relief, and joy that come with discovering my calling!

Although teaching ESL would allow me to utilize a wide range of my passions and abilities, I don’t want to disregard my interest in sustainability.  Upon first thought, teaching may not seem to have much of a connection with the environmental at all.  However, I’d like to take this time to illustrate that environmental sustainability can be applied to just about any job out there, thus further proving the significance of the field.

First of all, a teacher needs to make his or her students aware of the impact that they have on the earth.  If children grow up with an understanding that their personal actions directly affect the earth’s resources, they will be more likely to consider the environment in their daily lives as they continue to age.  Our schools need to incorporate this environmental awareness into the curriculum so that our children will have a deeper appreciation for the earth and will develop more environmentally-friendly habits. 

Secondly, a teacher needs to be aware of the impact that the environment can have on his or her students.  In my sustainability science class (EES-120 with Dr. Amelie Davis), we recently discussed the effects that pesticide exposure can have on the cognitive and motor-skill development of children, thus influencing their learning abilities.  Consider this disconcerting case study as illustrated in Dr. Davis’s PowerPoint presentation:

In addition to the two ideas presented above, there are plenty of other ways that education relates to the environment.  As an ESL teacher, I may be working with students who are considered “eco-refugees” (people who are forced to emigrate to another city, state, or country because of degraded environmental conditions of their own community).  In another sense, teachers are responsible for demonstrating environmentally-friendly behaviors in the classroom, as their own habits may influence the actions of their students (a function of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory).

Understanding the relationship between the environment and education will undoubtedly influence my career as a teacher.  Take a few minutes today to consider how your occupation (or future occupation) relates to environmental sustainability!

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