No Gimmick Left Outside

Environmental education and making sure people learn about connections with the natural world are key strategies to build support for conservation efforts.  That’s why initiatives like Trout In The Classroom are fun for students and important educational tools.  That said, the proponents of The No Child Left Inside Act are making a mistake by setting their initiative up in opposition to No Child Left Behind. 

For starters this sort of education was not happening in any systemic way prior to the passage of No Child Left Behind — especially in higher poverty schools.  In addition, there are plenty of people in the education reform community who are supportive of this issue and many of the ideas (teacher training etc…) but are put off by the tactic.  The issue here is not No Child Left Behind, it’s schools that do not use science, the environment, history, etc…to fuel a powerful instructional program but instead employ empty calorie type teaching.  Those schools and the problems that give rise to them should be the target of these efforts not a federal law that holds schools accountable for teaching students reading and math and focuses especially on minorities and poor students.   The notion that reading and math is at odds with teaching kids about conservation is absurd and counterproductive.  Curriculum and training not politics is where the emphasis should be here.

5 Replies to “No Gimmick Left Outside”

  1. Thank you for this post. I see the best hope for standards-based environmental education in (eventual) partnerships between “green collar” organizations and charter school networks — are there any programs doing this successfully right now?

  2. Andy, what are you smoking? I cannot see anything about Trout in the Classroom beyond a gimmicky, ideologically driven initiative by a group looking to raise charitable donations. Where’s the beef? so to speak….

  3. I think you’re a little off the mark. No Child Left Inside isn’t in opposition to No Child Left Behind. It’s an addition to NCLB. Yes, proponents believe NCLB has contributed to the environmental literacy gap. If NCLB continues to be implemented in its current form, we will graduate a generation of students who are fundamentally unprepared to deal with the environmental issues they will face on an individual, national, and global basis. We want the implementation of NCLB adjusted to include environmental education in two ways — standards-based environmental ed and integration into other subjects.

    I’m already seeing the latter in my children’s school, which has had a long-time relationship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Teachers in math and language arts are more frequently using environmental examples in their lessons — whether for mathematical word problems or reading comprehension. The kids find the topic much more interesting than most of the dry examples in typical worksheets, which means they enjoy class more and work a little harder to figure things out.

  4. Environmental education and making sure people learn about connections with the natural world are key strategies to build support for conservation efforts.

    And why is it OK for public schools to draft our children into “environmental stewardship” on their say-so?

    This is manifestly not an educational goal; it is the use of publicly funded education to “build support” for a political interest that is in competition with other interests for time and money.

    Looking at the website for “Trout in the Classroom,” I see Con Edison prominently featured as a sponsor. Most folks around these parts are none too happy with the Con Ed product, which includes cutting down trees at will wherever and whenever Con Ed wishes to do so. Con Ed’s “sponsorship” of “Trout in the Classroom” is a simple case of damage control via the schools.

    Many parents – probably the majority – want their children to receive an education at school, not 13 years of packaged exhortations to correct living via environmental stewardship, global community, 21st century skills and all the rest of the claptrap vendors are peddling.

  5. Last but not least: “initiatives” like Trout in the Classroom are not “fun” for students.

    Usually, they are profoundly boring.

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