Inquiry instead of boxes.- #6

esci 6Inquiry based, interdisciplinary learning is beneficial to environmental education in many ways.  Bringing in environmental education into other subjects and realms in the classroom, allows students to engage on a much deeper level with environmental concerns.   The environment becomes more than just a science concern.  In Language Arts we can learn to write letters calling for action, in Social Studies we can learn see that caring for the environment is part of our social responsibility and how the environmental concerns affect our communities.  It brings these concerns to a more local level that young children, can see and understand the impact.  Also incorporating environmental education into our daily classroom lives allows students to start at their level to begin to make an impact while, learning what needs to be done in a larger way to make a global impact.  It is not so overwhelming and scary to small children to start with small concerns.  It also develops a sense of responsibility at young age, that hopefully grows as the children grow.  Most of all interdisciplinary studies of the environment take it from a just science concern to a concern that affects all parts of our lives.  Children will then be able to find their own reasons, to act on their level.  Inquiry cycles can take you places you never thought where connected.

In terms of environmental inquiry cycles, the only one that I have ever been apart of was the one we did for this class.  I have guided inquiry cycles in the past, when I homeschooled my older children.  In one instance it was a very open cycle.  At the time I didn’t know he was engaged in an inquiry cycle.  I thought he was just following his interests and because as homeschoolers, we didn’t have to look at outcomes and indicators, I could allow it.  He took his interest from airplanes and their design, to aerodynamics, to how birds flew and their anatomy.  He delved into the two world wars.  In this inquiry cycle, all I did was take him to the library for information and books (no google at that time) and answered questions when I could.  He learned so much more than I would have ever thought to teach him or could have taught him on the topic.   Almost 15 years later, he still retains that knowledge.  As I go through my journey to be a teacher, I wonder how I can bring that type of inquiry and interest into my classroom with so many students.  I know we can cover every subject and that students will learn so much, but how do you do that in a classroom with 20 or more students.  It was a very easy thing to do with just three students and no outcomes and indicators to worry about.

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