The Handbook of Environmental Education

By Joy Palmer; Philip Neal | Go to book overview
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Chapter 10

Implementing a school policy for environmental education


Elsewhere we have said that changing to an environmentally focused curriculum does not mean that the whole school will be turned upside down. Yet it is also true that, for local reasons, a total alteration of attitude may be needed by students and teachers with environmental awareness used as the vehicle for such change.

A secondary school in Etobicoke, one of the districts of Toronto, Canada, with its own Board of Education, illustrates this thesis in a remarkable way. The school is 25 years old, serving a mainly municipal housing zone with a highly mixed ethnic population. Morale generally at the school was low, reflected in all the usual signs to be found in such circumstances and which need not be listed here. Through the enthusiasm of several individuals and with positive backing from the school board and the involvement of pupils and staff, it was decided to make a positive difference to life on Planet Earth by becoming a focus school that would pilot and share an environmentally sound curriculum. We quote from a paper written for the school environmental education brochure by the environmental coordinator for the school whose vital role in this new approach is recognized by the fact that her job is now a full-time funded appointment.

This decision [to become an environmentally focused school] is the result of a process which began in the 1989-90 academic year. In March 1990 the Program Leader for Outdoor Education for the North York Board of Education [another Toronto school board] conducted school assemblies on environmental issues. In April the students organised a Humber Valley clean-up, and a school recycling program was implemented by the students council. A tree planting event was held and environmental concepts and issues became a part of all staff letters, staff meetings, newsletters and student magazines.

A Strategic Planning Committee was formed to forward the project by


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