The Case for Environmental Education

A recent analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics determined that American students lag behind their international counterparts in science and math.  Studies consistently show that when integrated into the core curricula or used as an integrating theme across the curriculum, environmental education increases student engagement in learning, improves student achievement and raises test scores.

Just as service learning has been proven an effective way for students to learn, develop valuable skills and retain concepts, the utilization of environmental education in the classroom as a “connecting thread” or context for other academic disciplines has also been shown to be educationally beneficial.

In its 2002 publication, Education & The Environment/Strategic Initiatives for Enhancing Education in California, the California Department of Education made several important points about the key to excellence in education. “A main element, generally agreed on, is that integrating subjects aids learning. For that reason, integrated education and cross-subject instructional materials have proliferated.”

The report concludes that environmental education can be used effectively to connect many subjects within curriculum. “[It] pulls together the existing curriculum into a sensible and tangible whole. Learning parallels the ‘real world’ by combining academic disciplines (English and language arts, mathematics, science, history and social science, visual and performing arts) in investigating the local environment, defining and assessing issues, and creating and communicating solutions.”

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