Learning for/with Nature: The pedagogy and practice of teaching Natural History in England

Hayes, Tracy (2021) Learning for/with Nature: The pedagogy and practice of teaching Natural History in England. In: TEAN Conference 2021, 5-6 May 2021, Online. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

It is widely recognised that the world is under threat from human activities, which will have a huge impact on future lives. This threat can be addressed in a number of ways, for example through mass media, awareness-raising and activism, as well as via the more formal education system (Juniper, 2011). However, as Dioum exhorted in 1968, “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught”. I find the emphasis on teaching particularly astute and have used this quote within my practical, pedagogical and academic work for two decades. Through undertaking doctoral study, I now understand that it is not just ‘what we are taught’ (Ibid.; emphasis added in italics); I argue that we need to emphasise the importance of how we are taught, and who it is that influences these choices. My research demonstrates that within the teaching process it is more important to show than to tell, with emphasis on experiential learning, through sharing experiences in a way which allows each person to find their own meaning.
This is an important issue for teacher educators because our approach to the pedagogy and practice of teaching natural history is shaped by our own experiences, and by the environment around us (DEFRA, 2018). Therefore, we need to engage in reflective practice to understand how this may impact on the way we practice, research and teach. In early years and primary education, learning for/with nature is often a fun experience, but this playful approach does not generally extend beyond early childhood. By the time children reach their pre-teens, their learning for/with nature generally becomes limited to science and/or geography lessons, involving day trips and residential experiences; it becomes more serious, scientific and purposeful and less creative. The UK has “… the best studied flora, fauna, geology and geography of any country on earth. We also have some of the best nature writers, poets and artists. But today we are in danger of losing that precious tradition” (Colwell, 2019). One proposed solution to address this danger is to provide a transdisciplinary GCSE in Natural History, that would offer “… more practical, including basic identification skills…” (Juniper, 2011). However, are teachers adequately prepared to offer research-informed practice to ensure that what is offered is inclusive, meaningful and effective for learning? What collaborations may be needed?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URL(s):
Departments: Departments > Institute of Health > Social Work, Children and Families
Depositing User: Tracy Hayes
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2021 13:00
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 13:03
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6212

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