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Title: Teachers' conceptions of the environment: anthropocentrism, non-anthropocentrism, anthropomorphism and the place of nature
Contributor(s): Quinn, Frances  (author)orcid ; Castera, Jeremy (author); Clement, Pierre (author)
Publication Date: 2016
DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1076767
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Abstract: Analyses of attempts to prevent the worsening of environmental problems on Earth often identify two key lines of critique about contemporary school curriculum: first, its role in entrenching anthropocentrism as the dominant paradigm for people-environment relations, and then, also compounding this, their combined role in furthering a loss of connection with nature. However, those who advance such critiques do not always acknowledge that teachers perceive and enact curriculum in a variety of ways, including resisting these possible outcomes or rejecting such conceptions, be that in relation to schooling in general, or environmental sustainability as a particular focus for curriculum policy and activities. In light of this, our paper focuses on the substance and significance of teachers' conceptions of anthropocentrism and related constructs to curriculum, drawing on a range of theoretically- and empirically-based insights. First, we consider the literatures of environmental ethics and eco-philosophy to examine why dominant readings of nature and anthropocentrism are contested, and how this plays out in education, including for curriculum making. Then, within this context, we present results of a quantitative study of 201 inservice and preservice teachers in Australia, drawing on responses to selected items from the 'BIOHEAD-Citizen' questionnaire. Our findings illustrate a range of anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric conceptions of the environment, illuminating their relation to both consistent and contrasting findings on related concepts of anthropomorphism, and attitudes towards nature and environment. As our analysis shows, the teachers' responses cluster into four 'groups' of conceptions, which illustrate a range of anthropocentric possibilities, typically related to negative attitudes to nature and environment, and non-anthropocentric ones, usually related to positive attitudes to nature and environment, particularly when combined with anthropomorphism. Given the links between non-anthropocentrism and pro-environmental behaviours, and the significance of educators' ecoliteracy for advancing action on unsustainability via curriculum (re)development established in previous research, we conclude our paper discussing the value and challenges of (i) fostering ecocentrism and (ii) facilitating nature experiences, via contemporary preservice teacher education.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Environmental Education Research, 22(6), p. 893-917
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1350-4622
Field of Research (FOR): 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
130299 Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified
130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
930202 Teacher and Instructor Development
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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