Q&A with Joseph Baust Sr. of the North American Association for Environmental Education. (Science)
Ezarik, Melissa, District Administration
Q: Where should environmental studies fit into the school curriculum?
A: Environmental education [fits] nicely into any component of a classroom curriculum, as the umbrella from which all subjects can be taught or as a part of social studies, science, mathematics, language arts, health, physical education [or] the arts.
Q: What are U.S. schools doing right in environmental education?
A: Many schools are making strides in producing environmentally literate citizens. Some have concentrated on using the environment as the theme for studies. In such a situation all or many of the school subjects are subsumed. Students [use] the skills and concepts from traditional subjects or disciplines to answer questions about stream health, forest ecosystems [or] animal life.
Q: What improvements do we need in environmental education?
A: We need to encourage [its] use in more classrooms. Research [shows] that when students are using the environment as a way of connecting school subjects, they perform better in the classroom and have higher scores on standardized tests. [A 1998 study found] that student attendance increased in these schools, and teachers reported [improved] "quality of interactions with students."
Teachers [are reluctant to try things they're not certain would positively] influence student testing. There is also the perception that anything new translates into more to [squeeze into] the school day. Environmental education can . …