Listening to children’s voices: teaching/learning environment through children’s literature
Cutter-MacKenzie, AN & Surmacz, A 2012, 'Listening to children’s voices: teaching/learning environment through children’s literature', in Creating our next courageous steps: AAEE National Conference: Program and abstracts, Melbourne, Vic., 30 September - 3 October, Australian Association for Environmental Education, Melbourne, Vic.
Cutter-Mackenzie et al* claim that children’s literature provides “some of the first and possibly most formative engagements that some children may have with ‘nature’” 253). They go on to say that children’s literature can: … afford openings for dialogue both with and against dominant cultural texts, images, narratives and figurations of eco-cultural relations, and may offer incompatible as well as compelling understandings of childhood, adulthood, place and nature. It may also encourage a ‘comparing and AAEE National Conference 2012, 30 September – 3 October, Melbourne Page 31 contrasting’ of these alongside questions of the ecologies and cultures depicted in children’s literature, including children’s and adults’ conceptions and constructions of environment that might be experienced with or through them, their senses of an eco-identity, -citizenship or -responsibility related to such places and nature, and the significance that immersive pedagogies might play in engaging these themes and their challenges (254). Their book contains the only dedicated research in environmental education that deals with how children experience environment through children’s literature. Through their own admission though they note that their work (to date) has not seriously considered children’s voices of/about/in environment. This trend can be seen in environmental education research more broadly where much of the work on children’s voices is over two decades old, not taking stock of the pace of today’s society and ever-changing environment. In this highly interactive workshop we will explore ways to understand and enable children’s environmental voices through the creation and sharing of child-framed children’s books. The session will feature examples from the Environmental Education program at Berwick Fields Primary School where students have begun to develop their own texts which express their experience of the environment. What do they produce and what does it tell us about the ways they see their future?