Unearthing Ecologically Unsustainable Root Metaphors in BC Education: A Transformative Inquiry Into Educator and Curricular Discourses




Lemon, Meredith

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This inquiry used an ecojustice education framework and the transformative inquiry methodology to better understand the cultural and linguistic roots of global socioecological crises and to distinguish where ecologically unsustainable root metaphors show up in curricular and educator discourse. I first examined the British Columbia K–7 Science and Social Studies curriculum-as-plan[ned] to identify iterations of three ecologically unsustainable root metaphors of Western industrial culture—anthropocentrism, individualism, and reductionism. Then, 11 inquiry partners responded to written interview questions about how these metaphors appear in their teaching practices; three educators participated in follow-up semistructured interviews. In addition to these contributions, self-study reflections provide another layer to the connections I made among the literature, curriculum, and educator responses. The curriculum made no links between Western culture-language-thought patterns and socioecological crises. Several inquiry partners, however, did identify a relationship between these root metaphors and how the Western world treats the “environment.” Finally, the self-study portion revealed that despite understanding the power of root metaphors to shape our thinking and a deep desire to change, these taken-for-granted assumptions still arise in my teaching. Weaving together these findings, I recommend that future curriculum and teacher education include (a) the teaching of different worldviews to counteract the hegemony of Western industrial culture, (b) the power of language to shape thinking and actions, and (c) strategies to undertake the inner work needed to shift away from these culture-language-thought processes.



ecojustice education, transformative inquiry, curriculum, self-study, socioecological crises, Western industrialized culture