CJ#5: Disrupting the Commonness

KakaoTalk_Photo_2017-04-06-21-31-56_65As I mentioned on my #4 common blog posting, I was raised in a non-environmentally friendly way. I don’t like, and I am actually scared of things that are under the ground, especially the insects. I thought I was born in this way, and believed that I could never overcome this fear. I still vividly remember when I was doing fermi-compost at the first time. I could not successfully finish it because my body was shaking as I was staring at the moving, alive worms. I was scared of them, even though I knew that they would not hurt me. If I look back, though, I remember that I used to play with the worms when I was a kid without any fear. But then, why did I suddenly change? What made me scare of those little creatures that are actually living with myself, as a part of the environment, and as members of the earth?

Along with this thought, reading Barrett (2005)’s article “Making some sense out of feminist poststructuralism in environmental education research and practice” made me reconsider about my weird sense of fear towards the insects, specifically after reading the pond study, which regards to the power of language that would impact on students’ perspectives. As what Barrett said, “when holding a pond critter in one’s hand and saying “wow!,” students’ bodies tended to moved forward, peeking at the critter with what seemed at least like curiosity, if not wonder. Yet if they were saying “yuk” or “gross,” their bodies would most often recoil, hand held out as far from their noses as possible.” Then, I remembered what my mom used to say to me like, “Don’t play with the worms, they are dirty!” or “Stop playing with the sand, it’ll ruin your clothes!” It turned out, Barrett’s message about the language perfectly matched with my childhood.

As soon as I related my childhood to this article, I thought about how my fear is influenced by the “discourse” (Barrett, 2005, p. 82) from my mom, and to extent, how “the meanings we attach to the words we use, and the rules we use to determine what “makes sense” or is possible” (Barrett, 2005, p.82). Often, people think that the educators should be neutral in the classroom, so that their students would not be influenced or persuaded by one specific perspective. However, now I am starting to wonder ‘what is neutral?’. Isn’t the idea of being ‘neutral’ also constructed by how the society views? If it is, who gets to decide what is ‘neutral’ or ‘biased’? Does the one certain dominant group in the society determine what is ‘neutral’ or ‘right to say’?

While various questions are constantly arising in my mind, I am still struggling to find answers for that.

 


Reference

Barrett, M. J. (2005). Making some sense out of feminist poststructuralism in environmental education research and practice. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 10(1), 79-93.

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CJ#4: Reconsider the Story Telling

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Visual #1: Things that consists of my eco-identity.

KakaoTalk_Photo_2017-03-25-21-55-04_71Unknown

(L: Puzzle that I made R: Original Picture of the puzzle)

Visual #2: This (L) is a puzzle I made, with a picture of a mixture of two flags (South Korea & Canada), as I view these two countries as my home. I intentionally put the pieces incompletely, because I think I am still on my way to find my identity.

When I was exposed to the idea of ‘eco-identity’, it was hard for me to understand the concept itself. I used to think of myself as a person who does not have many connections with the environment, or even if I have a connection, it would not be a very strong one. When I think of the word ‘environment’, I immediately imagine a place somewhere far from me, with greens, clean water and air, where birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and little animals are freely jumping around – as I briefly described in my ecoliteracy poem. However, I think that the reason why I may lack of the connection with environment is because I spent my entire life in a big city where everything is completely opposite, while rarely interacting with what I think of as environment. I was surrounded by tall, huge buildings everyday – even my house is on 16th floor, and usually spent my childhood by hanging out ‘in’ the house with friends. For me, the vividest memory of interacting with environment is when I go out for a walk at the Shincheon river besides my home, in order to relieve my stress or just simply enjoy being alone while listening to the music. Until I came here in Canada, I didn’t know my childhood was a bit too plain, and perhaps sad.

If I ask my friends who I met here in Canada how their childhoods were like, they would share various kinds of stories. All is different, however I could tell one common theme: being outside. Some would share a story when they spent summer in their family cabin, some would share a story about fishing that they used to go with their parents, or skiing story, snowboarding story, even a story of gardening their yards. To me, it is fascinating and very interesting to listen because it is so different than my childhood. Also, it allowed me to imagine how people would communicate with nature in their leisure time, and enabled me to understand how building relationship with environment is important for them in their lives.

While thinking about the each story of childhood that I have gathered from my friends, I found another common theme: all is Euro-centered. By putting the pieces of different stories together in one set, I realized that this whole set is representing the environment through throughly a Western way that hides the idea of environment, or perhaps the land, from Indigenous perspectives. Then, I felt it is not an appropriate way to “facilitate intellectual and emotional connections with places, communities of life, people and events” (Curthoy, Cuthbertson, & Clark, 2012, p. 174) because viewing a piece of land by “favoring Eurocentric history over Indigenous history” (Curthoy, Cuthbertson, & Clark, 2012, p. 175) is a dangerous approach, especially considering that this place, Canada, is a colonized land by European settlers. As such, I believe that although storytelling is a definitely efficient method to disrupt the traditional way of teaching and learning, it should be done with a combination of multiple different perspectives in order to “minimize … misunderstandings” (Curthoy, Cuthbertson, & Clark, 2012, p. 175), while recognizing the true history of Canada.


Reference

Curthoys, L., Cuthburtson, B., & Clark, J. (2012). Community Story Circles: An opportunity to rethink the epistemological approach to heritage interpretive planning. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 17, 173-187.

Meta-Reflection: “In the Middle of Things”

As we are approaching to almost the end of the semester, I looked up all of my blog postings I have done so far. While re-reading my posts, I found some connections and development between the postings, as my notion towards environment education changes.

In my first posting, I drew 4 elements (Sun, Soil, Water and Air) that, I think, as important sources to consist and make the environment sustainable. Along with the picture, I discussed about humans being responsible for the disrupted environment, hence we need to be aware of our acts, as it would be the first step for us to take in order to save our nature. This post showed me that I was seeing the environment and humans separately because I thought that we, as humans, were the ones who can save the environment and that’s how we supposed to interact with nature. I realized that I was very used to the idea of anthropocentric, as I was considering human being as a center of everything and humankind as the most powerful source in the world.

It was not until reading Sustainable Living, Ecological Literacy, and the Breath of Life (Capra, 2007), that I started to see humans living ‘in’ nature, by understanding the relationship between the environment and things that consist of. As Capra (2007) suggested, humans are a part of nature, and the idea of sustainable living can be achieved when we value the “interdependence” (p. 13) that exists within the environment. As soon as I became to see the importance of interconnectedness in the system of nature together with a philosophy of deep ecology, I realized that there’s a need for humans to appreciate what the earth is providing for us, because what makes the connection stronger is that acknowledging and being acknowledged by each other. Along with this thought, I wrote my ecoliterate poem as a little tool for encouraging people to appreciate and be respectful towards the environment.

Until then, I thought I was pretty good at strengthening my perception towards environment and environmental education. However, Newbery’s (2012) article gave me another new insight, specifically in regards to the idea of wilderness and outdoor education. Before reading this, the typical image of wilderness in my mind was a place where is sacred, silent, untouched or unpolluted by humans, and perhaps several animals are living in, but no humans at all. That being said, I was very used to think of the environment and the idea of land through the Western ways of knowing, which lacks of “a critical pedagogy of colonialism”(Newbery, 2012, p. 31) that has happened on this very land. With Newbery’s (2012) article, however, my idea of outdoor education became no longer about ‘having some fresh air’, nor ‘exploring the greens’. In fact, I realized that educators need to see the outdoor education curriculum as a method to introduce Indigenous history and culture to students. Being outside by stepping on the ground should be an opportunity for students to recognize colonial history in Canada, see the land as a legacy of what has happened between Indigenous people and white settlers. I also believe that by being exposed to these concepts, students would get to learn about Indigenous culture, and the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. With this understanding, I created my third visual representation by putting various Indigenous flags and children together, with a hope of children growing up while broadening their knowledge of colonialism, through outdoor education.

To summarize, I realized that all of my journals are sharing a common theme – ‘relationship’. From the beginning of this semester, I was thinking of humans and the environment as a ‘one-way relationship’ through a notion of anthropocentric: either humans benefiting from nature, or humans exploiting/damaging nature. After realizing the idea of interdependence, however, I learned that the relationship between the environment and humans is inseparable because humans are one of many things that consist of the environment. I, then, started to see the relationship of colonial history and contemporary outdoor education while noticing the fact that “the Euro-centrism … pervades educational practice” (Newbery, 2012, p. 33), by ignoring the history of settler-Canadians and Indigenous people. As such, although the word ‘relationship’ includes several different viewpoints in each journal, I believe that all is aiming at one idea: ‘everything is interconnected’. I am truly excited to see these connections becoming even more strengthened and clearer throughout my journey of becoming an environmental educator!

 


References

Capra, F. (2007). Sustainable Living, Ecological Literacy, and the Breath of Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 12. Retrieved from: https://cjee.lakeheadu.ca/article/view/624/507

Newbery, L. (2012). Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring contested spaces of outdoor environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. 17, 30-45. Retrieved from: https://cjee.lakeheadu.ca/article/view/1112/653

CJ#3: Outdoor Education: An Opportunity to Understand Colonialism

Visual Representation #3Visual Representation #3: Hope of children recognizing Indigenous culture and the idea of colonialism through outdoor education

As a person who was mainly grown up within the standardized education system, the concept of outdoor education is still pretty new and interesting to explore. In fact, applying the idea of colonialism and learning about Indigenous culture through outdoor education is even newer concept to me, as it is something that I have not thought of until now.

If I look back, learning about history and culture was always happened through history classes, or perhaps through media. That being said, I was always in a passive position when I was exposed to the history, which made me sometimes get bored, feel less connected, and deny the fact that history can be viewed with a different lens. It also made me think of history and outdoor education as different categories. I used to understand that the ideal concept of outdoor education was to experience and explore nature that is pure and untouched by humans, whereas the history was something that we learn about past events in a chronological order.

It was not until reading Newbery’s (2012) article that I realized that these two concepts can never be separated. Being outside, or stepping on this very land, should be an opportunity for students to “be more mindful … [and] acknowledge that we are in traditional Aboriginal territories” (pg. 39). In other words, the curriculum of outdoor education should be designed for students to realize colonialism and how Aboriginal peoples were affected due to white settlers’ arrival on this very land, rather than just exploring the “wilderness” (pg. 31) that is “typically understood as wild, unpolluted and good” (pg. 37) in the Western context. By doing so, outdoor education will become “an important way of combating the Euro-centrism that pervades educational practice” (pg. 33), and students will be familiar with Aboriginal cultures and get to understand the relationship between Indigenous peoples and white settlers, by being taught about colonial history in Canada.