Environmental Education in 2002 and 2006 Early Childhood Curriculum*

Article excerpt

Abstract

The aim of the study is to analyze comparatively 2002 (previous) and 2006 (current) Early Childhood Curricula with regard to concepts and attainments associated with environmental education (EE). 2002 and 2006 preschool curricula were firstly retrieved from the web-site of Board of Education and then subjected to content analysis across 41 sub-components of environmental literacy (EL) which is the ultimate aim of EE. This comparative analysis of both curricula showed how much 2002 and 2006 curricula paid attention to environmental related concepts and attainments. The attainments related with knowledge were given more emphasis in both curricula compared with the attainments addressing to skills, affect and behavior. There is observable shiftfrom knowledge to skills and behavior over 2002 to 2006. At the end of the study, suggestions are provided to curriculum developers and pre-service teachers for achieving the aims of EE.

Key Words

Early Childhood Curriculum, Environmental Education, Environmental Literacy.

Development in science and technology, industrialization, changes in life habits and routines have recently resulted in destroy in natural areas and played roles in occurrence of environmental pollutions. Even though science and technology have improved the quality of life, the dual relationship and mutual interaction between quality of life and the nature should be given importance. In this regard, the need for education to make people aware of their influences on the nature and the back-effect (the effect of nature on the quality of life) could only be realized through effective environmental education both in formal and non-formal settings. The literature on EE reveals that the ultimate aim of EE is to develope responsible environmental behaviors of individuals, and thus environmentally literate individuals (Disinger & Roth, 1992; Erdogan, 2009; Stapp et al., 1969).

Along with the increase in environmental problems and issues, more emphasis started to be given on education for the environment in the late 1960s. Since then, conferences and workshops have undertaken and the topics related to education for the environment has started to be embedded into the school curricula. Tbilisi Conference, first intergovernmental conference on EE, has played crucially important roles in establishing the principles and the aims of EE (Ünal & Dimiski, 1999). In the conference, the main aims of EE were grouped with regard to consciousness, knowledge, attitude, skills and participation. This initial attempt to establish bases for EE has triggered to emergence of research on EE and integration of environmental education into the school curricula. Parallel with the development of the field of EE in the World, research and curriculum studies associated with EE has started in Turkey, as well. However, much more emphasis has just recently started to be given on the field of EE in Turkey.

The courses related with the topics of the environment have observed from the establishment of Turkey, 1923, to the recent day. In 1992-93 academic year, the courses "Environment, Heath, Traffic and Reading" were appeared in all classes of elementary school (Alkis, 2002). However, this implementation removed from the school curricula by Ministry of National Education (MoNE) in 1997. Most recently, environmental-related topics and attainments have been more emphasized in recent school curricula; e.g. Life sciences (Bahar, Erdas, & Özel, 2012), Science and Technology Course Curriculum (Erdogan, Kostova, & Marcinkowski, 2009) and Biology Course Curriculum (Erdogan, Bahar, & Usak, 2012) compared with the previous curricula. For example, the dimension of the environment has been integrated into 4th to 8th grade Science and Technology Curriculum with 2005 reform studies in MoNE (Erdogan, 2007). Considering the recent Early Childhood Curriculum, Gülay and Ekici (2010) reported EE related attainments and found the curriculum not sufficient to actualize the aims of EE. …