Alternative Journal - Feb 3 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Environmental Education for Empowerment - Jill Herzig

The professional book I have chosen to review is entitled "Environmental Education for Empowerment - Action Research and Community Problem Solving." I came across this book when I was writing a science grant for my school. I was intrigued by the information it held and was reminded of the Glasser book, "The Quality School" read in December, that gave the power to the student's themselves by attempting to improve the quality of school learning and as a result strengthens community living.

The premise of the book is to empower the students to take an active role in the environmental problems they have encountered in their local communities. The goal is to give the students confidence to tackle real-life issues and make a difference by taking charge of their learning. In this way the students investigate the problem experientially by submersing themselves in the issue at hand and by working together to create a joint solution.

The text itself would actually serve as a guide to implement this process. The students are in charge of their project at each step, by taking on the role of explorer and the teacher takes on the role of facilitator. The students make all decisions in the investigative stage, by collecting all data, checking for validity, computing results, and evaluating their findings. In this way they are learning first hand through the scientific process. They will most likely see that the environmental issues they have chosen to explore are impacted by many sources, mainly political decision-making, social economic and biophysical. With this information they will be able to see that these questions are complex. Each faction has a claim on how they want to use resources. The learners, as a group, have to decide what is a moral and ethical solution to the problem at hand and who has a right to benefit from it. They need to figure out a way to measure the validity of coexistence for each part of the population.

As an educator, I feel this is a great approach to teaching and it will encourage students to work together towards a common goal. I look forward to using this format in my classroom by providing an atmosphere where students will have the opportunity to develop skills useful into adulthood. It will make them more aware of their community and encourage them to take an active role in shaping the world around them.

-- Anonymous, January 30, 1999

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