Towards sustainable futures : exploring ecological learning in early childhood development

Pangeti, Patricia R. R. (2013-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The end of the 20st and beginning of the 21st century is characterised by a multiplicity of ecological complexities and alterations that are impacting both nature and humankind negatively. Such ecological problems are an indicator of unsustainable living by humans in societies, with inadequate natural resources management. These ecological intricacies are exacerbated by the increasing disinterestedness and detachment of children from the marvels of the natural world resulting in the creation of generations of ecologically unconscious citizens and imbalanced ecosystems. It seems apparent that in this ecological crisis, it is the poor and, in particular, the younger generations that are most affected. In this context; how can the manifest and evolving ecological crisis be reversed? This study is an inquiry into the usefulness of ecological learning in ECD, towards developing conscious future citizens who promote sustainable and ecological balance on the earth. The core objective is to understand current trends, scope, content and methodologies involved in ecological learning and how they may assist in preparing a proecological generation. The study employs a literature review methodology to explore the concept of ecological learning in ECD; examining the application of this paradigm to the sector of ECD through an exploration of the practice of ecological learning in 2 case studies of ECD centres (the Lynedoch EcoVillage and Campus Kindergarten) that place ecological learning at the core of their practice. Using a review of literature on ecological learning and ECD and the two case studies, the study attempts to demonstrate ecological learning practices in ECD centres. The teaching and learning practices in such centres project ECD to be the primary stage whereby ultimate growth, development and learning are created and therefore a vital platform for mentoring an ecologically mindful generation of citizens. However, on the other hand, the study also observes that the scale at which ecological learning is taking place around the world is too negligible to have a large impact in producing a generation of ecologically informed citizens. The study, then, recommends a paradigm shift in the content and methodologies that prioritise ecological learning in ECD both as a way of preserving the ecology and promoting sustainable development. The study therefore suggests, (1) Underpinning ECD with transdisciplinary ecological learning within local contexts (2) Linking ecological learning to ECD may contribute to ‘just transitions’, and (3) Attending to the growing need of new ways of being that can generate connectedness and belonging in a postconsumerist society seem best inculcated at early ages.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die einde van die 20ste, en begin van die 21ste eeu word gekenmerk deur ’n magdom ekologiese kompleksiteite en veranderinge wat die natuur en die mensdom (meestal) negatief raak. Hierdie ekologiese probleme dui op onvollhoubare samelewings en natuurlikehulpbron-bestuur. Die ekologiese uitdagings word vererger deur kinders se toenemende onverskilligheid en afsydigheid teenoor die wonders van die natuurlike wêreld, wat generasies van ekologies onbewuste burgers, sowel as ’n ongebalanseerde ekosisteem tot gevolg het. Dit is voorts duidelik dat die huidige ekologiese krisis, laer inkomste groepe en die jonger generasie die ergste raak. Teen hierdie agtergrond, moet ons onsself afvra, hoe die onmiskenbare en ontvouende ekologiese krisis omgekeer kan word? In hierdie studie word daar ondersoek ingestel na die doeltreffendheid van ekologie in die vroeë kindontwikkelings- (VKO) stadium, om burgers op te lewer wat volhoubare en ekologiese ewewig bevorder. Die kernoogmerk is om die huidige tendense in die bestek en inhoud van, metodologieë vir ekologiese leer te verstaan; sowel as hoe dít ’n pro-ekologiese generasie help toerus. Daar word gebruik gemaak van ’n literatuuroorsig, ten einde die konsep van ekologiese-leer in VKO te ondersoek. Die praktiese toepassing daarvan in twee VKO-sentrums, naamlik die Lynedoch-ekodorp en Campus Kindergarten (CK), wat albei ekologiese leer as ’n kernaktiwiteit beskou, ondersoek. Aan die hand van die kritiese literatuuroorsig sowel as die twee gevallestudies, poog hierdie navorsing, om te toon dat VKO-sentrums toenemend ekologiese praktyke erken. Die onderrig- en leerpraktyke in sulke sentrums beskou VKO as die primêre stadium wat uiteindelike groei, ontwikkeling en leer bepaal, en dus is dit ’n uiters belangrike platform om ’n ekologies-bewuste generasie van mentorskap te voorsien. Aan die ander kant is daar ook gevind dat die skaal waarop ekologiese leer wêreldwyd plaasvind, te klein is om enige beduidende impak te hê op die skep van ’n generasie wat ingelig is oor ekologie. Daarom word daar aanbeveel dat daar ’n paradigmaverskuiwing in inhoud en metodologieë moet plaasvind om ekologiese leer in VKO te prioritiseer as ’n manier om die ekologie te bewaar sowel as volhoubare ontwikkeling te bevorder. Die studie dui op die volgende; (1) geïntegreerde leer, tesame met konsekwentheid in die aanbieding van onderwerpe, en die fasilitering van VKOonderwyseropleiding en–diens; (2) die skakel tussen ekologiese opvoeding en die bydrae wat dit tot VKO lewer; (3) om nuwe maniere te vind, waarmee daar ’n skakel gevestig, en ‘n verband getrek kan word, in ‘n post-verbruikers samelewing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80069
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