Academic journal article International Education Studies

Education for Appreciating Environment-An Example of Curriculum Design of Natural Aesthetic Education in Taiwan

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Education for Appreciating Environment-An Example of Curriculum Design of Natural Aesthetic Education in Taiwan

Article excerpt


Environmental protection is now the common consensus in the world. If we can teach students how to appreciate the natural environment and love its beauty, they may protect the environment naturally. But how can we learn to appreciate nature? The research on the contemporary aesthetics of nature provides rich discussions and directions. This paper uses literature analysis as the method to examine the main contents of the Western aesthetics of nature and to develop an example of curriculum design. There are two models-a cognitive approach and a non-cognitive approach-in the aesthetics of nature. The former stresses the necessity of scientific knowledge, including ecology, biology, and geography, while the latter focuses more on imagination, intuition, mystery, and folktales. After analysis and review of the two models, I induce them into nine principles of appreciation. Furthermore, I suggest some principles of teaching, such as Cornell's "flow learning," art creation, and raising plants or insects by oneself. Finally, according to these principles and teaching methods, I design an example of a curriculum for elementary school students in Taiwan. I will present a unit of frame to provide details about the curriculum and how to teach the appreciation of nature.

Keywords: curriculum design, aesthetics of nature, environmental appreciation, natural aesthetic education

1. Introduction

At a time when environmental problems (e.g., global warming, resource depletion, environmental pollution, climate anomalies, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, and improper development) are being exacerbated, numerous developed countries have not only shown increasing concerns pertaining to the policies, regulations, and general promotion of environmental protection and recovery, they have also placed an increasing emphasis on environmental education. In Taiwan, environmental education is listed as one of the seven key educational issues following the Grade 1 to 9 Curriculum reform, encouraging teachers to integrate environmental education into the various school subjects. In response, numerous elementary and junior high schools have subsequently established websites and formulated executive plans pertaining to environmental education, and have further promoted various environmental subjects, courses, and activities. In addition, the regional education units in Taiwan have established environmental education and counseling groups in their individual jurisdictions. These efforts thus imply that environmental education has become a key concern in elementary and junior high schools.

Based on the descriptions released by the Department of Education (2008), environmental education encompasses 5 key aspects, namely environmental awareness, environmental sensitivity, conceptual knowledge and connotations, ethics and values, and skills and experiences regarding environmental activities. Although all 5 aspects are of equal importance, environmental awareness is the foundation upon which the remaining aspects are based; thus, environmental awareness entails the training of students' sensory awareness abilities (i.e., observing, classifying, sequencing, determining spatial relationships, measuring, inferring, predicting, analyzing, and interpreting), consequently enhancing their awareness toward environmental damage and pollution, and their appreciation and sensitivity toward environmental aesthetics. The driving force for action is be touched and enthusiasm for the beauty of natural environment. As the essential first step to environmental education, schools should create outdoor education opportunities to aid students in experiencing nature, thereby cultivating students' appreciation and respect for nature (Chang, 2001).

Aesthetic motive powers are a type of internal preference that induces voluntary reactions, whereas moral imperatives may not necessarily be preferred. If an interest and ability to appreciate natural beauty were extensively embedded into students' environmental awareness at a young age, then students would consequently become environmental monitors who would then voluntarily take responsibility for conservation because they are urged to protect objects they favor. …

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