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Environment in the curriculum: representation and development in the Scottish physical and social sciences

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Scottish official curricular texts, including guidelines and examination papers, are analysed for representations of 'self and the environment'. The environment is represented as fragmented when it is the curricular focus and is only 'whole' when it is background context; 'human-environment relations' are dualized; and the value of 'environment' lies dominantly in its use by humans (although there is a much less clear possibility that it might have inherent value). These representations lend themselves to the kinds of dominant and abusive relationships with environment that the same official curricular text hopes to counter. The assumed need for publicly shared understandings may drive this representation, through processes in which students understand environment by its 'parts', by generalized models of relationship, as being shallowly causal and progressively 'other', and not as contingent, local, or privately experienced. The desire for such a public world-view may in turn be driven by historical efforts to use education to tackle social inequality. The purpose of undertaking such a detailed analysis is to create space for progressive and incremental curricular development rather than for revolutionary revision.

Keywords: assessment; curriculum; discourse analysis; environmental education; examinations; tests

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2007

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