SYSTEMS APPROACH IN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROJECTS
Constantina (Dina) Schiza
Doctoral Thesis (2004)
Department of Education
Faculty of Philosophy, Education and Psychology
UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS
Supervisor: Prof. Ant. Danassis-Afendakis
Our researches’ field was the Environmental Education Projects. That is, the autonomous educational actions enacted in Greece since 1980, which involve voluntarily teachers and pupils into an educational process that evolves in a school year time, yet beyond the school timetable.
Motivated by the International Intergovernmental Conference of Tbilisi statement and proposals, within environment is reported as a systemic world and teaching is clearly oriented, amongst others, towards systemic approaches, we tried to reformulate the pedagogical triangle “environment, pupil of an environmental education project and educator” on the concept of the “obseving-system” or “system-observer”.
Epistemologically we moved beyond Rational Positivism and towards Critical Theory of Frankfurt using, thought, contemporary theoretical schemata arising out of the General Theory of Information and Communication, Cybernetics (second order) and the General System Theory.
Our prospects could be summarized as an attempt to enlighten Environmental Education with the characteristics of that socially critical education which could bridge all the adjectival educations aroused to cope with sustainability -as the always contested relationship among society, nature and human being- with “modernity”, as well as with the need of a “meta-modern” thinking.
Our research developed into two stages, the first had the characteristics of an Ana-synthesis the second of an Action-Research.
THE FIRST STAGE OUTCOME:
Our Didactic Module’s “Artic Raft”
1) Gathering information with regard to the observed-theme
2) Entering in a self-reflection process to formulate a description-narration of it
3) Addressing one’s own description to “others”-pupils-observers
4) Discussing on the descriptions to formulate a new one
5) Mapping the new description as “mutual and simultaneous arising scheme” (a pedagogical model)
6) Advancing to a second order discourse with regard to it
7) Reflecting with regard to the scheme and the discourse
8) Resuming creatively the entire enterprise
Teaching-Learning process: a discourse with “row material” aspects of every day life in the city, by the citizens and towards citizenship
SECOND STAGE, THE ACTION-RESEARCH
THE SECOND STAGE OUTCOME:
The Pupils’ Pedagogical Models
The pupils Pedagogical Models point out two simultaneous and recursive transformations: the transformation of the life’s aspect-theme from the ontological level, “Entertainment, Recreation, and Amusement in Byronas” (t1 , t2 , t3) to the symbolic one “Entertainment, Recreation, and Amusement in cities” (t΄1 , t΄2 , t΄3) and the transformation of pupils to critical interpreters, that is, to citizens capable to cooperatively articulate the critical questions: 1) “whocontrols” theEntertainment, Recreation, and Amusement meaning 2) “whodecides” abouttheAmusement, socialvalue,quality 3) “how” and “why” Recreation became synonymous to “escaping the city” 4) “which” are the consequences of such a meaning upon nature, the cities andthe citizens and, finally 5) ”what” is our own meaning (t΄΄1 , t΄΄2 , t΄΄3)
Our Didactic Module was enacted with twenty-three, sixteen years old pupils. The pedagogical action lasted more than one hundred and twenty hours (120) distributed into sixty-four (64) pedagogical events. In every event more than 4/5 of the team was present, yet most often no one was absent.
During this period, dozens of pedagogical models were created and served as tools towards a different pattern of thinking as well as a means to the collaborative ness, interpreted as the pupils’ word on their own life in the city.
Moreover, as long as the pupils’ thoughts, sentiments and prospects on their thematic concern were addressed to others’ -other citizens- the pedagogical action gives birth to a human interaction domain. That is a domain where human beings’ anticipations for changes emerge throughout democratically evolving discourses, yet always considering other peoples’ anticipations as well as natural processes and conditions.
It is, thus, obvious that our Didactic Module familiarizes the pupils with the critical thinking as the capability of the human beings to acknowledge the social oppresses and abuses and to create their emancipation’ s terms and conditions.
The fact that our Didactic Module was embraced enthusiastically by those teenagers couldn’t but indicate that an internal motive was embedded in its pedagogical design. That internal motive lies on the handling the human being as a “system-observer” and the learning process as an observation process which, presuming the social domain fulfils a human need. The need to open to the other, to share meanings: the solidarity as a means to “symbiosis”, as a term to “meta-modernity”.