‘Young Children and the Environment’
Review of ‘Young Children and the Environment’
It’s the age old question to ask young children; ‘What would you like to be when you grow up?’. ChickPea always says, ‘a dinosaur or a truck driver’ (clearly we have high hopes for her) and PudStar used to say ‘an illustrator or an artist or a fairy’. Recently she had to talk on this topic of ‘career’ for show and tell, and she said to me, ‘I don’t know what to say to my class because I don’t need to be an illustrator when I grow up anymore because I am already a published illustrator’. Whilst I did tell her that illustrators could do more than one book in their lifetime, she was in fact correct in saying she already has a ‘career’ as a published illustrator. She has peaked early with her career dreams (let’s hope she has more!) and her artwork has been used on the cover of a textbook and in a chapter within this textbook, ‘Young Children and the Environment’.
This second edition of ‘Young Children and the Environment’ is a practical resource and an academic text – the two can co-exist! It looks at the difference that early childhood educators can make by working with children, their families and the wider community to tackle the contemporary issue of sustainable living. This is a second edition of the book and has been substantially revised and updated, with a new section exploring sustainability education in a variety of global contexts. The text engages with new curriculum initiatives that have placed greater emphasis on educating for sustainability, and equips educators with the knowledge to teach this revised content. It remains accessibly written with ample case studies, vignettes and ‘provocations’ to engage readers and provide insights into how early childhood education for sustainability can occur successfully in school and home environments.
The table of contents gives insight to what you will find in this book and the contributors, who are recognized as experts in their field of study.
- What is early childhood education for sustainability and why does it matter? Julie M. Davis
2. Children in the natural world Sue Elliott
3. Leadership for creating cultures of sustainability Megan Gibson
4. Practical possibilities and pedagogical approaches for early childhood education for sustainability: the Kenmore West story Robert Pratt
5. Ethics and pedagogy at the heart of early childhood education for sustainability Lesley Robinson and Sue Væaliki
6. Reconciliation and early childhood education for sustainability: broadening the environmental paradigm Melinda G. Miller
7. The world is getting flatter: ICT and education for sustainability in the early years Margaret Lloyd
8. Healthy and sustainable environments for children and communities Sue Cooke
9. Food first: beginning steps toward children’s sustainable education Nadine Louise McCrea
10. Early learning for sustainability through the arts Lyndal O’Gorman
11. The children’s environment project: developing a transformative project approach with children in a kindergarten Sharon Stuhmcke
12. Caring for oneself, others and the environment: EfS in Swedish preschools Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér and Ingrid Engdahl
13. Beyond traditional nature-based activities to education for sustainability: a case study from Japan Michiko Inoue
14. Education for sustainable development in early childhood in Korea Okjong Ji
15. Early childhood education for sustainability in the United Kingdom Louise Gilbert, Janet Rose and Paulette Luff
16. Using research and a systems approach to mainstream change in early childhood education for sustainability Jo-Anne Ferreira and Julie Davis.
The chapter ‘Early learning for sustainability through the arts’, written by Lyndal O’Gorman is the chapter which features Pud and her artwork.
Lyndal looks at how the arts and sustainability can be successfully integrated into the curriculum to enrich learning in both areas. Bringing the arts and sustainability together can simultaneously develop a child’s artistry and deepen their knowledge of nature and all issues to do with sustainability.
She uses the example of PudStar’s ‘nature journal’ and her bird drawing project which went on for some months when she was five. I’m so incredibly pleased this stage was captured by Lyndal in both words and pictures as Pud has, so very sadly, now reached that point where she constantly says ‘I can’t draw that!’ as she has realised that her bird drawings don’t look like the actual bird in the tree outside, and her portraits of people don’t actually look like the person they are intended to be. This has been one of my hardest parenting moments and I have a whole other blog post (in my head!) on this topic of encouraging children to draw, make, create, tinker with their own unique style and embrace their ‘art mistakes’, which of course are not mistakes at all.
I distinctly remember beautiful Narelle Oliver (more on her here) looking at Pud’s curly, whirly, twirly, upside down and back the front handwriting when she was three or four and saying; ‘Grab that handwriting Megan! Keep it! You will never get that once she starts school and learns ‘proper handwriting and graphic artists would kill to be able to properly re-create a child’s natural handwriting’. Being someone who can’t stand bits of ‘mess’ I of course did not take Narelle’s wise advice and keep many samples of her ‘fancy handwriting’ as she called it. These days Pud is all about ‘proper handwriting’ with no swirls on the end – so boring. Another parenting fail.
It was the same with her artwork – as soon as she started formal education and learnt about the ‘proper’ way to draw an eye, a feather, a person – the gorgeous bird pictures stopped. I know it is just a stage and that her confidence in her art and her ideas will return as she learns new techniques for creating art, both in school, with people like Narelle (see below for a art lesson looking at techniques Narelle uses to create texture in her illustrations) and from Nonna (I love the way my mum talks with Pud about her art, more on this here). But I really am ecstatic that there are that her early bird pictures are in a textbook, immortalised forever in print. Oh print how I love thee.
I can highly recommend ‘Young Children and the Environment’, whether you are a uni student being told to purchase this text, a teacher in a school or an interested parent – there will be something that inspires you to delve more deeply into issues of sustainability. I do not usually read text books from cover to cover (because that would be weird) but this one can be read from start to finish, and there will be many ‘ah-ha’ lightbulb moments along the way.