The objective of this study was to explore the mechanism through which a reform in environmental education (EE) programs affects pupils’ relation to the environment. We surveyed 589 pupils aged 9–12 years in three types of Israeli elementary school: regular schools, schools that implement an EE program (designated “green schools”), and schools that implement a more intensive EE program (designated “persistent green schools”). Analyzing the results obtained from our questionnaire, we found that both EE programs had a positive effect on environmental attitudes. Importantly, however, only persistent green schools showed a direct positive effect on environmental behavior. In addition, we assessed the influences of various demographic and other factors on pupils’ relation to the environment. Of note, we found that students who spent their leisure time watching TV or engaging with other electronic media expressed less concern about the environment.
Tal, Tali, and Einat Peled. “The Philosophies, Contents and Pedagogies of Environmental Education Programs in 10 Israeli Elementary Schools.” Environmental Education Research (early view; online first).
In this study, our aim was to understand how environmental education has been implemented in Israeli elementary schools. We selected ten schools that had implemented Education for Sustainability programs and analyzed their mission statements and curriculum documents. We observed each school’s activities and interviewed teachers. Our analysis shows ambiguity with respect to the rationales and the theoretical foundations of the programs. It also shows much didactic teaching of content, a strong focus on behavioral outcomes, especially with respect to reducing resource consumption and to increasing the levels of recycling, as well as some degree of working with the community. The unclear status of environmental education in Israel, in terms of its structure within the education system, prevents it from having sufficient resources for teacher education and curriculum development. It is suggested that this lack of clarity is the main cause of the ambiguity and for the use of the traditional pedagogies we found in our analysis.
Alkaher, Iris, & Tali Tal. “Making Pedagogical Decisions to Address Challenges of Joint Jewish–Bedouin Environmental Projects in Israel”. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education (early view; online first).
This interpretive study identifies challenges of working with Bedouin and Jewish Israeli youth in two multicultural projects: education for sustainability and place-conscious education. It also describes the ways the adult project leaders addressed these challenges and their views on the effectiveness of their decisions. Participants comprised 16 Bedouin and Jewish educators. Data collection included interviews and observations of project meetings and staff meetings. Project leaders reported challenges related to (1) intergroup differences in environmental viewpoints, knowledge, and learning styles, (2) embedding issues of environmental justice in the multicultural discourse, and (3) Bedouin–Jewish interactions. To address these challenges, the leaders separated groups for some learning activities, directed discourses, adopted bilingual teaching strategies, and emphasized unique socio-cultural characteristics. Their level of satisfaction with most of their decisions is high. They avoided discussing the broader socio-political Arab–Jewish conflict. The findings highlight dilemmas that multicultural environmental projects pose and suggest the need to adopt critical pedagogy of place to address such dilemmas and challenges. The findings also emphasize the need to better prepare educators for environmental education in multicultural settings.