Reorienting the way human beings live on the Earth and educating children to their highest capacities have much in common, say the thinkers and educators behind this groundbreaking book. Both endeavors must be viewed and pursued in the context of systems: familial, geographic, ecological, political. And our efforts to build sustainable communities cannot succeed unless future generations learn how to partner with natural systems to their mutual benefit. In other words, they must become 'ecologically literate'. The concept of 'ecological literacy' advanced by this book's creators, the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, extends beyond the discipline of environmental education. It aims, as David W. Orr writes in his foreword, 'toward a deeper transformation of the substance, process, and scope of education at all levels'. The reports and essays gathered here reveal the remarkable work being conducted by the center's extensive network of partners.
In one middle school, for example, culinary icon Alice Waters founded a program that not only provides students with healthy meals but teaches them to garden - and thus to study life cycles and energy flows - as part of their curriculum. Other hands-on student projects supported by the center and described in this book range from stream restoration and watershed exploration to confronting environmental justice issues at the neighborhood level. With contributions from distinguished writers and educators, such as Fritjof Capra, Wendell Berry, and Michael Ableman, Ecological Literacy marries theory and practice based on the best thinking about how the world actually works and how learning occurs. Parents and educators everywhere who are engaged in creative efforts to develop new curricula and improve children's ecological understanding will find this book to be an invaluable resource.