Ecoliteracy refers to the ability to understand the interconnected natural systems that allow life to thrive on Earth. From its formation four years ago, the Small Earth institute has had as a central premise the need to train teachers in ecological literacy and environmental consciousness. We have been working with teachers throughout Norway and abroad, offering seminars, presentations, and engaging interactive workshops. We welcome the recent changes to the Norwegian curriculum and specifically to trans-disciplinary focus on environmental awareness.
Environmental consciousness is a key to making change. However, in our current situation, awareness often leads to malaise or overwhelm, even among teachers, and certainly among young pupils. An emphasis on sustainability that comes across as an admonition of what we MUST do can lead to frustration and anger and burnout when we become aware of just how much change is needed quickly. Teachers know we must act as leaders in environmental change, but we are often unsure the best way to do that. Awareness alone is not enough without a foundation of deep appreciation and a change in how we relate to the world around us.
Eco-literacy goes beyond awareness to develop a shift in perspective that recognizes the principles such as networks, patterns, energy, flow, mutuality and feedback systems that underpin all of our life systems on Earth. Ecoliteracy embraces the interconnectedness of systems thinking- we apply this to all of our interrelated subject matter in a transdisciplinary format. Ecoliteracy and systems thinking is essential to developing the mindset that can help teachers guide students toward healthy and active environmental awareness that will move our entire society toward a healthy relationship with our planet.