Conservation and Outdoor Education in the Schools
Nature Bulletin No. 374-A March 21, 1970
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation
CONSERVATION AND OUTDOOR EDUCATION IN THE SCHOOLS
Given a favorable climate, two things make and keep a nation great:
its people and its natural resources. The well-being of our nation
depends upon the wise use of those resources. They provide our basic
requirements -- food, clothing and shelter. There is ample evidence
that a very large portion of all teachers recognize the need for
conservation and the importance of environmental education. Leading
educators say that teachers realize the why of conservation but need
help with the what, when, where and how -- how to teach the topic so
that it hooks onto the personal lives of their students and is translated
into behavior -- how to bring conservation home to all pupils in terms
of day-to-day living.
Teachers are key members in any solution of the problems of
conservation. At all levels of instruction, they are vitally concerned as
teachers and as citizens. Their job is especially difficult in this
metropolitan area where so many people are comparatively strangers
out-of-doors. Teaching of units of study in science should aim to
provide understanding of the fact that man and nature are inseparably
bound in an intricate web of interrelationships and interdependencies.
The objective should be to create background knowledges and attitudes
which will result in action, based upon a feeling of personal
responsibility, on the part of every man, woman and child, to protect,
maintain and prevent the waste of human and natural resources, which
includes the air, water and soil.
Educators agree that since curricula are already overburdened, and
since conservation is a synthesis of subjects, its essential ideas and
principles can best be taught by inclusion into a wide variety of
existing courses, rather than as a new subject "tacked on". Further, for
optimum result, environmental education must be based upon
knowledge and first hand experiences dealing with local realities
easily understood. The individual should become familiar with his own
locality and the factors that have entered into its growth. We should
learn to appreciate nature; how to live in and enjoy the out-of-doors.
It is an accepted thesis in education that learning takes place faster and
is more effective through direct experience. In the outdoors, seeing
vitalizes the hearing process and doing makes the learning process
more meaningful, supplying a link between the classroom, the
textbook, and things as they exist in nature. Further, something
happens to individuals in their attitudes toward one another when they
live and learn together in a natural environment out-of-doors.
Conservation education means training in educational fundamentals --
in scientific thinking, in citizenship, in individual and community
initiative, and in appreciation of natural resources and natural
beauties. A conservation education program which succeeds in giving
the child the "know howl' to understand and enjoy the out-of-doors,
makes him or her a better adjusted individual mentally, emotionally
We have found that nature appreciation, engendered by nature lore
acquired firsthand, is the key to the door opening upon a concept of
the broad field of conservation. A by-product for the individual is more
profitable use of his leisure time and a fuller richer life.
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Update: June 2012