Environmental Education: Promise and Performance


  • Michael Sanera Environmental Education Research Institute, USA


Professional environmental educators promote quality environmental education based on high educational standards. Their aim, in part, is to provide students with knowledge of environmental issues from a variety of scientific perspectives so that the students can make up their own minds on these vital issues. This is what I call the promise, or intent, of environmental education and the leading documents in the discipline reflect this intent. I agree with these good intentions. Indeed, much of the current debate is not about intent, but rather the performance of environmental education. In other words, when children receive environmental education in the classroom based on curriculum materials or textbooks, or when they go to the school library to check out books about the environment, do they receive information which lives up to this promise or intent? The research record shows that they do not. There is a big gap between intent and performance when students are taught about environmental issues. This paper discusses my efforts to explore and define this gap and discusses my ideas for narrowing it.