Teaching the principles of ecology in the urban environment : an investigation into the development of resource materials

Wagiet, Mogamat Fadli (1996) Teaching the principles of ecology in the urban environment : an investigation into the development of resource materials. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The combined potential of two crucial factors in 1993, which afforded the promotion of socially just and ecologically sustainable ways of living, led to the instigation of this research project. The first was the imminence og our first democratic election; the second was the possible introduction of environmental education into formal education. In the light of these momentous shifts, it became apparent to me that teachers would have to radically transform their practices in order to play their part in transforming society from the dark days of apartheid into one of equity and harmony. The implications of these factors precipitated the falling into place of the rationale for my research: teachers had to look for professional development experiences which could facilitate the creation of alternative ways of thinking and doing. As a result, I approached a group of biology and geography teachers on the Cape Flats and, after protracted discussions, we decided to examine the potential of the urban environment for the teaching of ecology from the perspective of socially just and environmentally sustainable living. Out of this decision was born this study, which aimed at examining whether this process could, as a means to professional development, be a 'moment' in our journey to becoming transformative intellectuals. From this aim, the central research question emerged: Can emancipatory action research play a role in empowering teachers to become transformative intellectuals? The study consisted of five stages: - exploring the problem by reviewing the literature on the research problem; - the semi-structured interviews; - five workshops; - the 'sensing the urban environment' fieldtrip; and, - the various evaluation sessions. What we achieved during this research project, firstly, was a better understanding of our practices, which led us to seeing our roles as teachers differently and altered our pedagogical approaches. Secondly, this process developed the belief within ourselves that we, as teachers, can and should make a difference to the educational world in which we live. Lastly, this process laid the foundation for continued collaborative action by the participants. This process taught us that educational transformation is difficult and painful, and that present educational structures are not conducive to change. Nonetheless, in the historical context of this research, emancipatory action research was successful in giving us a consciousness-raising experience and closed the rhetoric-reality gap as we engaged in praxis (the practitioners developing and implementing their own curriculum). If we, as transformative intellectuals, are to engage in intellectual labour in the future, we are not only going to need to change our way of thinking and doing but will have to create an enabling infrastructure to realise this as well. We will, in addition, have to change the structures of the institutions in which we work in order to practise as transformative intellectuals.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Environmental education, South Africa, Educational change
Subjects:L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
Supervisors:Irwin, Pat
ID Code:3227
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:28 Aug 2012 12:22
Last Modified:28 Aug 2012 12:22
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