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Exploring the Actual and Potential Rhetoric-reality Gaps in Environmental Education and their Implications for Pre-service Teacher Training.
Zeitschriftenausgabe (-> Ref.Nr):
Environmental Education Research
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The mismatch between the advocated views of theorists and the teaching realities in school environmental education is widely recognised. There is relatively little research examining the advocated practices of teachers themselves, other than already environmentally active teachers, to indicate the nature of the 'potential' rhetoric-reality gap that might exist if all constraints were removed, and teachers had a completely free choice in designing their own environmental education programmes. This article identifies such gaps by exploring current practices and teachers' views on selected components of environmental education, across a complete teacher training partnership. This information has been used to help prioritise the content and approaches used by pre-service teachers when conducting school-based environmental activities. The investigation reveals that although most schools lack a written policy on environmental education, most have a positive attitude towards the large majority of selected components and these are usually addressed in school. Teachers are not generally compelled to deliver aspects of environmental education that they deem inappropriate. Of the 10 components not currently addressed by most of these schools, the findings suggest that five would be added if constraining factors were removed, but a further five would remain absent. The overall potential rhetoric-reality differences in this case study are thus smaller than the actual existing differences, but still fall short of some theorists' goals. Within the pre-service training programme, efforts have been concentrated on components that are: (i) currently practised in most schools; and (ii) receive a positive response from most teachers, and this has resulted in markedly improved feedback from schools and trainees alike.
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