Hello! My name is Sua Park, and this is my final assignment for ESCI 302 class, Digital meta reflection.
So, by reflecting upon this semester, I would like to discuss three things that resonated me in terms of the process of learning, relearning, and perhaps, something that I struggled to learn.
First of all, the philosophy, called anthropocentric was something that was very interesting to learn. As you can see through my blog postings, I used to think humans as the centre of world, and had this belief that humans are the ones who have the most power to influence on the environment. Furthermore, I thought that environmental education is a course that teaches us how to engage students in outdoor activity, by saving the environment. That being said, I was a very human-centered person who did not realize the fact that humans are just one part of nature, and are co-existing with other parts of environment. It was not until reading Capra’s article, “Sustainable living, ecological literacy, and the breath of life” that I became able to see the “interdependence” (Capra, 2007, p. 14) within the nature, consisting of humans, animals, plants, and all other living organisms. Capra mentions that, “Nature sustains life by creating and nurturing communities. No individual organism can exist in isolation” (Capra, 2007, p. 14). Capra gives an example as well, saying that “Animals depend on the photosynthesis of plants for their energy needs; plants depend on the carbon dioxide produced by animals and on the nitrogen fixed by bacteria at their roots. Together, plants, animals, and microorganisms regulate the entire biosphere and maintain the conditions conducive to life” (Capra, 2007, p. 14). With this reading, I was able to see the relationship of humans and environment, and understand that this interdependence is what makes sustainable living for all living things in the nature.
Secondly, with this class, I relearned about colonialism, Indigenous peoples and their relationships with Canada. To be honest, incorporating colonialism and the history of Canada into environmental education was very new to me, something that I have never thought of. I was considering colonialism as a context that can only be embedded in the history class, however Newbery’s article “Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History: Exploring Contested Spaces of Outdoor Environmental Education” changed my insight. With this reading, I became to realize that through environmental education class, or perhaps simply by being outside while stepping on this land, students can recognize colonial history in Canada, see the land as a legacy of what has happened between Indigenous people and white settlers. Also, I became to understand that offering this kind of opportunity to students is a way to disrupt Western ways of knowing, because, as what Newbery says, “Creating opportunities for students to learn from and about Aboriginal cultures, while being mindful of idealizing and historicizing them, is an important way of combating the Euro-centrism that pervades educational practices” (Newbery, 2012, p. 33). Overall, I re-learned colonialism and relationship of Aboriginal people and Canada within environmental education context, by attempting to disrupt western ways of knowing. Which, I believe, is an integral part of reconciliation as well.
Lastly, the idea of poststructuralism is something that I struggled the most to comprehend. I think that the reason why I felt especially difficult when it comes to fully understand this was because I was a person who usually follows what is considered as ‘normal’ or ‘right’ without questioning, whereas poststructuralism looks at this idea of norm as a discourse that is shaped by what majority of society deems as normal, and throws questions about it. In Barrett’s article “Making (some) Sense of Feminist Poststructuralism in Environmental Education Research and Practice”, this thought was phrased as “Poststructural analysis reveals ways in which dominant discourses can trap us in “conventional meanings and modes of being.” It enables us to see ways in which cultural narratives and structures of notions such as humanism, critical theory/pedagogy, modernism, and scientism are produced, regulated, and productive of the subject. Poststructural theorizing questions that which is assumed to be normal or common sense” (Barrett, 2005, p. 80). Also, Barrett explains that “Discourse is embedded in notions of identity (what it means to be a girl, boy, student, teacher, canoe trip guide, environmental educator, or activist), the meanings we attach to the words (signifiers) we use, and the rules we use to determine what “makes sense” or is possible” (Barrett, 2005, p. 82). As a whole, I became to realize even one’s ‘identity’ could be the result of what the society’s dominant view has structured, and from poststructural perspective, this dominant discourse can be disrupted.
To sum up, environmental education has taught me more than just being outside and having fun. As mentioned above, environmental education allowed me to gain deeper understandings of ecoliteracy, colonialism, even my identity, and many more. I am very grateful to become able to interpret these insights as my knowledge, and thanks again to Audrey for making this semester wonderful and meaningful to me.
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.
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/vie w/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.