Investigation of Environmental Topics in the Science and Technology Curriculum and Textbooks in Terms of Environmental Ethics and Aesthetics

Article excerpt

Abstract

In order to solve environmental problems, it is thought that education should be connected with values. For this reason, it is emphasized that environmental issues should be integrated with ethical and aesthetic values. In this study, 6th, 7th and 8th grade science and technology curriculum and textbooks were investigated to find out how much environmental ethics and environmental aesthetics were mentioned in the topics related to environmental education. In the study, a descriptive methodology had been followed; the data were gathered through document analysis and analyzed in line with the determined themes. The themes related to environmental ethics are respect, value, responsibility, participation and compensation. For environmental aesthetics the aesthetic aspects of the visuals, the emphasis on the beauty of nature and the harmony between pictures and the topic were assessed. At the end of the study, it was found that both in the curriculum and in the textbooks environmental topics are generally explained through a nature-centered approach. However, it was seen that environmental ethics and aesthetics were not mentioned enough. It was determined that responsibility and participation elements of environmental ethics were emphasized but respect, value and compensation elements were neglected.

Key Words

Environmental Education, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Aesthetics, Science and Technology Curriculum, Science and Technology Textbooks.

Environmental problems have become one of the most accentuated issues, lately. It is possible to say that this is not only the effect of globalization and media but also the effect of their consequences for people's daily lives. Gaining the understanding of environmental problems are human related, bring along the necessity to raise awareness of individuals about the environment they live in (Erten, 2004). Therefore, environmental education has begun to be included in curricula.

In curricula, general aims of the environmental education are determined as; raising awareness about environment and its problems, giving information, developing positive attitudes, knowing environmental problems and developing research skills, contributing to the solution of problems and participating (Brause & Wood, 1993; Dogan, 1997; Gruenewald, 2004; Palmer & Neal, 1996; Stapp et. al., 1969, cited in Disinger, 2001). When these purposes are examined, it is seen there is an understanding that suggests if people are aware of their environment and its problems, they become more sensitive about it. Thus, when environmental problems become a current issue, the emphasis on the idea stating that in order to solve problems people should be more conscious is mentioned frequently; however, it is seen in time that being conscious is not enough to solve problems (Erten, 2004). Although since 1960s there have been studies regarding environmental education in curricula, it is emphasized that the expected efficiency could not be gotten; just giving information is not enough, environmental issues should be integrated with people's values (Lynch, 1998). When the idea stating that people's behaviors shape according to their values (Disinger, 2001) is thought, the necessity to enrich the environmental education with values to raise environmentally sensitive individuals has aroused (Aleixandre & Rodríguez, 2001; Carr, 2004; Davis, 1998; Franson & Gärling, 1999; Gurevitz, 2000; Özdemir, 2007; Thapa, 2001). For this reason, some professional ecologists mentioned that besides being conscious about the problems, ethical and aesthetical values should also be emphasized to solve environmental problems (Bozkurt, 1999; Davis, 1998; Kostova & Atasoy, 2008; Light & Rolston III, 2003; Reiss, 1999; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 1978, p. 24, 1997). As a matter of fact, some researchers claimed that one of the factors that make environmental problems this big, is not giving enough importance to environmental ethics and aesthetics (Brause & Wood, 1993; Tont, 1996). …