Education, Earth, Nature. Imagining ecological ways of inhabiting the Earth
A new ecological culture puts Earth and Nature—and not only human beings—at the center of Planet's life. This change of perspective should be accomplished at every level: law, politics, economy, education. At an educational level, this choice concerns lifelong education since the earliest stages of life, and involves the development of more holistic mind-sets based on: (a) Knowledge and understanding of phenomena grasped in their relations to one another (Dewey, 1933; Vygotsky, 1930, 1934) that connect human beings and the being of the Planet; (b) An ethics of respect and care (Capra, 1997), which involve empathy with Nature, pro-sociality, reflective thinking (Bruner, 1997), mindful understanding of emotions, storytelling, dialogue and cooperation. To support this view, I present an educational research design as an example of an experience in the field. Research with children (Kirk, 2007; Christensen-Allison, 2008; Moore et al., 2008; Mortari, 2009), or Children-centered research is the methodology used. Such approach is evidence-based (Jean-Luc Maron, 2001; Berg et al., 2008) within the epistemological framework of the naturalistic inquiry (Erlandson et al., 1993; Woodhead, 1996; Graue,Walsh, 1998; Greig, Tailor, 1998; Punch, 2002; Mortari, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009). Focus group with primary school teachers and children from primary schools in the north of Italy are currently being conducted. Analysis will include children`s individual diaries that report reflections and emotions regarding their weekly experience with nature (Leopold, 1970; Tanner, 1980; Thoreau, 1962; Chawla, 1998; Smith, Dunca, Marshall, 2005; Mortari, 2009, 2017; Dozza, 2018; Fellin, 2018) that is part of the school curriculum. Preliminary findings suggest that by perceiving Nature through all their senses and by reflecting on their emotional connection with Nature, children acquire a new more systemic awareness and begin to feel as active agents of Earth.
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