A chasm in environmental education : what primary school teachers 'might' or 'might not' know

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Cutter-Mackenzie, AN & Smith, RA 2001, 'A chasm in environmental education : What primary school teachers 'might' or 'might not' know', in BA Knight & L Rowan (eds), Researching in contemporary educational environments, Post Pressed, Flaxton, Qld, pp. 113-32. ISBN: 1876682280


Over the past thirty years, it has often been stated that primary school education should endeavour to improve and protect the environment through produdng an 'environmentally informed, committed and active citizenry '. To this end, environmental education has been incorporated into the existing discipline 'Studies of Society and Environment'. However, research shows that the implementation of environmental education in primary schools is problematic and has had limited success.The reasons for these shortcomings are far from clear, with present research merely speculating about barriers to effective implementation. This chapter presents a detailed discussion and analysis of the existing literature concerning environmental education in the primary school years. In so doing, the chapter identifies a perceived gap within the field of environmental education research and literature. This field has neglected studies of Australian primary school teachers' knowledge and beliefs about environmental education as a factor affecting the capacity of schooling to achieve environmental education goals. We conclude that this omission is a significant factor limiting environmental education theory and practice