Public discussions of global climate change and other threats to the planet are making children more aware of environmental issues. As increasing numbers of kids come to school wishing to take action, educators want to know how to teach in a way that fosters a love of nature and an understanding of the complexity and seriousness of these issues.
In Childhood and Nature, noted educator David Sobel makes the case that meaningful connections with the natural world don't begin in the rainforest or arctic, but in our own backyards and communities. Based on his observations of recurrent play themes around the world, Sobel articulates seven design principles that can guide teachers in structuring learning experiences for children. Place-based education projects that make effective use of the principles are detailed throughout the book. And while engaged in these projects, students learn language arts, math, science, social studies, as well as essential problem-solving and social skills through involvement with nature and their communities.
The pressures of test preparation, standards, and curriculum frameworks often reduce the study of nature and the environment to a set of facts and general concepts. However, as Childhood and Nature demonstrates, linking curriculum with an engagement in the real world not only provides students with the thinking skills needed for whatever test comes their way, but also helps them grow into responsible citizens and stewards of the earth.
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About the Author
David T. Sobel is the director of Teacher Certification Programs in the education department and director of the Center for Place-Based Education at Antioch University New England in New Hampshire.
Prior to 1997, he served as the chairperson of the department for a dozen years. He was one of the founders of The Harrisville Children's Center and has served on the board of public and private schools. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justiceand has served as a correspondent for Orion Magazine.
David received his bachelor's degree in English from Williams College in Williamstown, MA, and his master's degree in elementary education and child development from The Prospect School Teacher Training Program in Vermont and Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, NH.
His published books include Children's Special Places, Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education, Mapmaking with Children: Sense of Place Education for the Elementary Years and Place-based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities.His articles examine the relationship between child development, school curriculum and place-based education. He was the winner of a 1991 Education Press Award.
David is currently director of Project CO-SEED (Community-based School Environmental Education). This project creates partnerships between communities, school districts and environmental organizations in an effort to collaboratively improve schools and support community development.
David's exploration and documentation of the natural interests of children are the foundation for much of his work. He says that he became a teacher because "I liked being responsible for designing adventurous encounters for others."
He has served as a consultant with school districts, foundations, environmental organizations and the National Park Service to assist educators with curriculum development, program planning and evaluation from a learner-centered perspective.
David has two children and enjoys mountain biking, adventure travel, landscape history, play area design, cold water swimming, and heating with wood.