Heart knowledge: towards (w)holistic ecoliteracy in teacher education




Filler, Christopher Stephen

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Despite repeated calls internationally, nationally and provincially to place the development of ecoliteracy as a curricular priority, there continues to be a lack of attention provided towards this goal, in particular opportunities for direct contact with the natural world in terms of fostering ecoliteracy in student teachers (Tuncer, 2009; Davis, 2009, Gough, 2009, Beckford, 2008; Blanchet-Cohen & Elliot, 2011). Teachers play key roles in advancing environmental education efforts and the environmental literacy of future generations. Insufficient teacher preparation has been identified as one factor in the weakness of environmental education efforts and environmental education curriculum (Beckford, 2008; Lin, 2002; Knapp, 2000). Furthermore, adequate environmental education preparation of students in teacher-training programs is essential for helping future teachers design and implement effective environmental education curriculum (Cutter-Mackenzie and Smith, 2003; Mc Keown-Ice, 2000; Spork, 1992)..Future generations of students need to begin to perceive themselves, once again, in terms of being connected to a larger story which includes the more-than-human world. I argue that education needs to play an important role in that re-connection, and that teacher education, as a fertile place of in-betweenness, can represent an important step toward that goal. Using a combination narrative and phenomenological inquiry, I explore the storied insights of ten student teachers as they struggle to navigate the tensions, disruptions and opportunities that form the waters between their nature-self and their teacher-self. Along with a questioning of current conventional approaches to teaching ecoliteracy in schools, the Aboriginal concept of “heart knowledge” (Aluli-Meyer, 2008) is provided as a way of knowing which is congruent with the aims of an holistic ecoliteracy within teacher education.



ecological literacy, eco-poetic representation, environmental education, teacher education, narrative inquiry, phenomenological inquiry