Introduction To A Question-based Framework For Shaping Environmental Literacy
This Framework is built on the premise that although environmental issues and concepts change with time and changing technologies, the questions that underlie them remain the same. The Questioning Framework for Shaping Environmental Literacy is a curriculum building device based on the premise that questions lead to, and provide the CONTEXT for, basic concepts about the environment and our relationships with it. Such concepts underlie the environmental issues that many programs use as the starting point of their efforts in environmental education. It is our view that environmental issues are inappropriate starting points. Rather environmental education that leads to true environmental literacy, should begin with the context setting questions. We further believe that although the answers to the questions may change with increased knowledge and technologies, the questions remain essentially the same over long periods of time and should be revisited a number of times during one’ lifetime.Our task as educators, be we teachers, parents, youth leaders, or adult instructors, is to help learners formulate and frame good questions to explore.
The challenge for becoming environmentally literate is to know and explore the basic questions and to revisit them periodically to discover, based on continuing advances in knowledge and technology, what the optimal solutions currently are. Many of the environmental literacy questions that must be dealt with remain the same, regardless of the time period in which they are asked and investigated. But the answers to those questions will vary with the times at which they are asked. Our knowledge about the environment changes rapidly; our ignorance grows equally fast, often more rapidly. This is because for every question answered or problem resolved, several new ones are generated. This Framework is basically INTEGRATIVE. One might refer to it as inter-disciplinary, or even a-disciplinary. The questions explored often require information from more than one traditional discipline to determine viable answers. In the day-to-day world that makes up our environment, we seldom work only within a single academic discipline. Rather, we blend information from several disciplines to create new information and identify or new alternatives. But blending disciplines is increasingly difficult in a world dominated by disciplinary approaches.
This Framework is based on the understanding that environment is our total surroundings. Environment can be considered to have at least three interconnected, interacting components: