The environment plays a vital role in the health of all species and the existence of life on Earth. The planet Earth is home to several living species, and we all depend on the environment for water, air, food, and other resources. Therefore, it becomes essential for every person to protect and save the environment.
Unfortunately, many people do not know the current major environmental issue on the planet, nor do they know what’s good and bad for the environment. Thus, our planet continues to get destroyed every single day. The lack of information and understanding about the importance of the environment is the cause of its destruction. Thus, environmental education is important.
The term environmental education is self-explanatory. It is a process that enables people to explore various ecological problems, participate in problem-solving, and take action to protect and improve the environment.
Through environmental education, people develop a deeper understanding of ecological problems and have the required information and skills to make responsible and correct decisions. It has several components. They are as follows:
Environmental awareness and sensitivity to the environment and ecological challenges
Understanding and knowledge of the environment and ecological challenges
An attitude that has concerns for the environment and motivation to maintain, protect, or improve environmental quality
Skills that help to identify and resolve ecological challenges
Engaging in activities and practices that lead to the resolution of ecological challenges
Environmental education does not support a single viewpoint or course of action in particular. Environmental education rather teaches people how to handle various sides of a problem through critical thinking. It also increases the individual’s own problem-solving and decision-making skills.
The National Environmental Education Act of 1990 requires the Environmental Protection Agency to provide national leadership to increase environmental literacy. The Environmental Protection Agency established the Office of Environmental Education to execute this program.
The need and importance of environmental education are as follows:
It improves academic achievement: Environmental education helps to improve test scores by providing students with engaging topics about nature and biodiversity. Students can then apply this information to all subject areas and grades.
It breaks the indoor habit: It offers a solution to the indoor lives of today’s students and youth- their generation is the first to grow up indoors. Students experiencing school life with lots of play areas and grounds with diverse natural settings are more likely to be physically active, aware of good nutrition, imaginative and creative, and much more civil to one another.
It improves students’ health: It involves getting students outdoors and active and helps address various health problems in students today, such as depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder.
It supports STEM: Environmental education offers an engaging platform to gain and apply skills and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
It meets the 21st century needs: It focuses on knowledge and skills important for succeeding in the future, such as investigating, questioning, analyzing, defining questions, reasoning, interpreting, solving issues, and developing solutions.
It cultivates leadership qualities: Environmental qualities emphasize cooperative learning with others, critical thinking and discussions, and focuses on action strategies with real-world applications.
It improves focus and cognition: Environmental education increases the ability of children to improve and focus their cognitive abilities. Students that have attention deficit disorder benefit from more exposure to nature. The greener a student’s daily environment, the more manageable their symptoms are.
It creates enthusiastic students: Environmental education offers several opportunities for hands-on, rich, real-world, and authentic learning across the curriculum. The relevance to children’s lives inspires and engages them more than traditional pedagogy.
It fosters innovative leaders and teachers: It enables teachers to take students outside more often and design more dynamic, interactive learning experiences that get students’ attention.
It addresses academic standards: Environmental education offers an engaging way to meet the skills and content identified in Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, C3 Framework for Social Studies, and Next Generation Science Standards.
It saves school money: Students exploring and making efforts to improve the environmental performance of their school building and ground often cut costs in water, electricity, waste management, and more.
It fosters healthy schools: Environmental education encourages students to create healthier and greener learning environments outside and inside their school building.
It supports sound decision-making: It ensures that citizens are informed about science and equipped to make decisions that are vital to ensuring that the world has natural resources on which the economy and life depend.
It contributes to sustainability: Environmental education builds the skills and knowledge necessary to address ecological problems and to take action to keep nature healthy, the economy productive, and communities vibrant.
It conserves natural resources: The more people learn about the environment, the more pro-environment and conservation behaviour is seen. The more individuals know, the more likely they are to reduce, reuse, recycle, and conserve water and other resources.