Why a Resource on Environmental Inquiry?The current environmental crisis can serve to remind us about the purpose of education: To develop knowledgeable and responsible citizens who are committed to the well-being of their communities and to the world at large. Teachers who make the shift to Environmental Inquiry are better able to guide their students along that path because this four-part approach has an innate potential to elicit students' natural curiosity about the world and to create a classroom culture of learning that is purposeful, fun, productive, and responsive to students. When a student's imagination is engaged, his or her learning naturally blossoms. When the same happens for the teacher, his or her practice is transformed.
There is an obvious connection between what the Ministry of Education is asking of teachers in Ontario and the decades of evidence-based practice at The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study. The Ministry's policy framework on Environmental Education, as articulated in Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow (2009a), embraces the branches of Environmental Inquiry: Inquiry-based LearningIntegrated Learning, Experiential Learning, and Stewardship.
The Ministry's policy not only strengthens Ontario's public education system, it opens the way for teachers across the province to explore the possibilities of Environmental Inquiry in their classrooms. However, many teachers worry that this new policy framework means that they are expected to add yet another subject, Environmental Education, to an already burgeoning curriculum. They may wonder how much they need to learn about the environment in order to teach it, and whether their workload will be tipped to the breaking point. And if they get past all of those concerns, they may rightly ask:
This resource is intended to help you, the teacher, bridge the 'what' of Ministry policy to the 'how' of practice. It demonstrates how Environmental Inquiry can enable you to meet, and even exceed, Ministry expectations while transforming your practice into a more enjoyable, creative, and productive experience. This book presents a sustainable approach for teachers to use in achieving professional accountability and greater personal satisfaction.