The 232 individuals referred to in Chapter 1 are all enthusiasts for the environment, and for the provision of ‘environmental education’, whatever that might mean. If we were to write again to the members of the research sample, this time requesting a description of what the movement of ‘environmental education’ means in practice, we predict the responses would entail widely differing interpretations of its key ideas and principles, and of how its aims are perceived and understood. For some its essence lies in aesthetic awareness, ‘being at one’ with nature, appreciating the beauties and fascination of natural life on our planet. For others, it has close association with key events which have raised awareness and the need to take action to preserve our Earth and its resources: perhaps the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, of Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb in 1968 or Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful in 1973…perhaps the near-meltdown of Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania, USA in 1979; the catastrophic failure of a Soviet nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in 1986 which contaminated large areas of northern Europe; the tales of the Mobro, a Long Island ‘garbage barge’ that travelled 6000 miles in 1987 to dump its load, becoming a symbol of the USA’s waste problems; the running aground of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1989, spilling millions of gallons of oil into ecosystems; or the 1991 war in Kuwait, drawing world attention to the environmental damage of war…the origins of the need for environmental education, and the nature of its aims, are interpreted in many and various ways by individuals around the globe.
For some, the name of Sir Patrick Geddes, a Scottish botanist (1854-1933) is associated with the earliest links between education and the quality of the environment. His pioneer work included the extensive use of the outdoors as a resource for active learning. Also, the thinking of some of the world’s ‘great’ educationists undoubtedly made a substantial contribution to philosophical deliberations on the interaction between people and their environment: The difference between the