What is Environmental Education?
Children can Learn from Ecotourism
In families with children, when thinking about the future, some may have heard that it is better to give environmental education to the children from a young age.
Speaking of education about the environment, there should be some people who contemplate that “recently we often see the news about environmental issues so it worries me to think about when our children grow up in the future” and “it seems better to give an environmental education somehow, but I do not know what exactly it is and actually what one should learn?”.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency describes environmental education as ‘a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment’. Put simply, it means “learning to deepen understanding of the relationship between humans and the global environment and environmental conservation.”
Ecotourism to visit nature for an environmental education
What should we do to deepen our understanding of the relationship between humans, the global environment and environmental conservation with our children?
It is, of course, good to read some related books for them, and if you have a small child, read a picture book.
However, for a child or adult alike, “experiencing” and “learning through experience” is a great opportunity to think by yourself and it will lead to future growth. When it comes to experiencing the global environment and environmental conservation, learning by doing is ideal!
It is great if there is nature close to where you live. In case there is not, why don’t you take a vacation and go on a trip to nature? However, it is a trip with a purpose of education, not just a family trip.
Ecotourism is the perfect concept for a family trip which allows everyone to be able to “learn to deepen the understanding of the relationship between humans and the global environment and environmental conservation.”
Ecotourism is a sustainable travel style that mainly has three aspects: environmental conservation, contribution to local communities, and learning about the environment and culture. Not just the usual traveling,however, but a form of win-win travel which not only conserves the environment through contributions to the local community to make a sustainable living in the tourism industry, but also allows visitors to learn about nature, local culture, etc. Thus allowing visitors to make use of what they have learned after returning home.
Don’t you think it’s perfect for environmental education?
What you can learn from ecotourism
Ecotourism works with professional local guides called rangers when visiting national parks and nature reserves. Gaining a wealth of information from professionals who are familiar with the area’s nature, culture, history, etc. will make it possible to learn a lot more than if one would go on their own.
So what can be learned?
Let’s look at them one by one.
1. The greatness of nature
If one puts themselves in the magnificent nature, not only children but also adults will be impressed. Nature is great!
The emotionally positive experience of being impressed and having fun lasts for a long time. Feel great in the environment and nature, and desire to know more!
2. Animal and plant ecology
Learn about the ecology of animals and plants living in the area. Experiencing rare flora and fauna makes one ponder: The possibilities to discover a number of species of flora and fauna living on the same planet!
3. Behavior in nature
Rangers also explain how best to behave in the natural environment. For example,not littering, unnecessarily picking plants or touching the animals and the reasons why. What are the true effects of one small action? Even adults sometimes have the want to feed or touch wildlife, when a cute little animal appears within sight. How should one respond in such a case? What should be done to avoid causing injury to nature, and what actions can be taken if injury to nature is caused?
Through the experience of each and every detail, it is connected to what has been learned and practiced mentally. This information will remain in the mind long-term, when it has been made a priority.
4. What is the history?
Learn from history; how this nature ends up as it is now, how the local people were making their living before, what challenges they had and how they ended up with the ecotourism that they are implementing now.
5. How to Conserve the Environment
In order to best preserve the existing environment, it is possible to learn from ecotourism about the problems or difficulty in conservation that the country or area have and how they are meeting these challenges.
6. What can be done in daily life?
Learn about the initiatives and what brought those initiatives into action. It is possible to find an initiative that can also be useful in one’s own community. The learning and the experience can also be a trigger to think about what can be done in communities in order to conserve nature or the information, which can always act as a motivating factor for the creation of new ideas.
7. The locals
When talking about the environment, one tends to pay attention to the natural environment, but the people who live there are also a part of it. It gives an idea of what kind of life locals are living and why. It also creates an opportunity to objectively see what things are normally taken for granted in everyday life.
8. Culture and customs of local people
Similar to 7, but include the additional possibility to learn about the culture or customs of the people in the country or region. There are people in the world who have different cultures and customs. Learning also that there are countless cultures worldwide, all with their own unique actions and motivations, which can differ from the culture or customs of others. The understanding of cultural differences and to know about the many cultures in the world comes quite naturally to adults. Although it is something normal for adults, it can be a surprising fact for children.
9. Respect the culture(s) of indigenous people
In countries and regions where the proportion of indigenous people is high, respect for cultural customs that indigenous people have long valued and coexistence with indigenous people has become a major theme. If while visiting an area where there is interaction with indigenous peoples, it is respectful to learn at least something about the culture. These cultural lessons are also very interesting to learn with children.
10. Consider a symbiotic relationship with earth
Numbers 1 through 9 on this post are a starting point for thinking about a symbiotic relationship with the earth. There will be a lot of awareness such as feeling grateful for the benefits of nature or understanding the connection between the everyday things and affecting the planet’s nature in this way. Understanding our connection to the planet is vital in the process of making eco-friendly decisions. Common questions to contemplate such as ‘ what can one do for the planet’? Consider that if children are thinking about the earth and environment, then something has been done for the planet in teaching the children. The trip has been a success!
Some options to consider during the journey are:
・ Environmental education should be learned through experience, rather than studying at the desk
・ Go with local nature professionals and learn well
・ Create an opportunity to feel with one’s own body and think with one’s own mind
In addition, if children do not participate with interest spontaneously, they will not be able to take full advantage of learning opportunities. Be sure to ask the child what they are interested in and what they want to do prior to planning an itinerary. And please mother and father also have an interest together, experience together, and think together. It is very effective to pre-learn before travel and follow-up after travel. Learn together!
Ecotourism in nature for environmental education, try it!
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