The Diluted Curriculum: The Role of Government in Developing EcologicalLiteracy as the First Imperative in Ontario Secondary Schools

Tom Puk, Dustin Behm


In 2000, the Ontario Ministry of Education removed Environmental Science from the secondary school curriculum as single-focus, stand-alone courses. Instead, the Ministrychose to integrate or “infuse” ecological concepts in other science and geography courses. In this study, surveys were sent out to science and geography teachers across theprovince. Teachers were asked whether or not they taught various topics, how much time they spent teaching these topics, and how much time they spent per course teachingoutdoors. The data collected from the surveys demonstrate that grade 9/10 and grade 11/12 science and geography teachers are, in fact, spending very little time teachingecological concepts. There is a limited and ineffective emphasis on learning about environmental science topics or promoting ecological literacy in the current curriculumguidelines. The results of the study indicate the failure of the “infusion model” for ecological education. The study suggests that in light of the serious challenges theecosphere faces in the future, ecological literacy must become the first imperative in the school curriculum.

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