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Gaps between Advocated Practices and Teaching Realities in Environmental Education.
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Environmental Education Research
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Critics of environmental education have argued that teachers must have a comprehensive knowledge of environmental concepts to be better environmental teachers. It is also expected that if teachers have a more refined conception of what environmental education entails, they will feel equipped to include it within their existing curriculum. However, not only is there disagreement among the theorists about what constitutes environmental education, but also about what happens in the classroom. The qualitative study (conducted in Ontario, Canada) reported in this paper shows that teachers' environmental beliefs, knowledge and skills and. their environmental programmes provide evidence of the way they view environmental education, including the difficulties they perceive in providing their programs. These include: (1) practical issues, such as constraints posed by time, materials and schedules; (2) conceptual issues, such as the confusion among researchers and apparent in resources, about the nature of environmental education; (3) issues of whether or not teachers feel they have permission to carry out the activities, often controversial, they feel constitute environmental education. Findings indicate that researchers need to consider more carefully the teaching practice and its limits when advocating how environmental education should be taught, and what should be taught. With this in mind, we suggest three things: (1) we need to bring the environmental theorists in line with the real and immediate concerns of teachers and teaching practice; (2) with the teachers' practices and concerns in mind, we need to sort out the conflicts and ambiguities inherent within environmental education theory and decide what can realistically be accomplished within the context of schools; (3) we need to ensure that work at the curriculum development level is directed toward giving the teachers explicit permission to do the things environmental researchers propose.
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