Environmental Education – Acceptable Brainwashing?
As time goes on, we see more examples of environmental issues being raised in the classroom, and younger children being exposed to environmental subjects. Most schools now will have a policy of getting children involved in environmental projects, and this has led to accusations of brainwashing from some sources. While brainwashing is something that we have come to associate with totalitarian states, is it something we should be prepared to accept when it is for a cause we believe in?
Arguably, it can be said that education is a way of preparing children for the world that they will move into when they have outgrown their schooling. As this world comes to grips with environmental matters, the fact is that it is not a subject that will go away tomorrow. Therefore we might say that getting children involved in environmental projects is something that will prepare them for a world that is going to see the environment as an ever bigger issue the longer it is in question.
What children should not be burdened with is the guilt of choices they may make without realising their implications. A child who throws litter away without knowing the damage it causes is not some kind of thug. They should not be given a harsh lesson in the consequences of their actions. Instead, if the subject is raised, it should be in a way that lets them see how their actions can be positive. By encouraging them to dispose of litter cleanly, we can reward positive behavior.