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The National Curriculum contains many references to the environment:

  • In the Principles of the curriculum we find reference to “a healthy environment” and its relationship to social justice, human rights and inclusivity.

  • In the Critical Outcomes, we read that learners must show responsibility to the environment by using science and technology critically. They must also come to understand the world as a set of related systems.

  • Every Learning Area has Learning Outcomes, and some specify Core Knowledge focusing on understanding and caring for the environment.

Environmental education is therefore not an “extra” on top of the formal curriculum – it is very much an integral part of the curriculum. This resource aims to help you address these environmental imperatives in the curriculum by providing information and lesson ideas on one particular aspect of the environment of Cape Town.

Integrating knowledge, skills and attitudes: The National Curriculum is based on the principles of outcomes-based education. Learners are expected to demonstrate that they have gained knowledge and that they understand what they have learned. They also need to demonstrate a range of skills, positive values and attitudes.

Integration through environmental learning

Focusing on the local environment creates opportunities to integrate the aspects of learning mentioned above. For example, if we want to understand the importance of biodiversity in our local environment, we need to

become familiar with concepts and principles (knowledge) relating to biodiversity, and use skills of observation, interviewing, recording and analysing data to investigate this issue locally. During our investigations we may

find that people have different views (attitudes) about the importance of biodiversity, which may reflect the

values they hold. If we find that biodiversity is important, this might have implications for our own values

and attitudes, and in turn influence our decisions about how we live.

Learning to live more sustainably Environmental education encourages us to go further than simply knowing about our environment, being able to demonstrate certain skills, and even discussing our attitudes towards the environment. A simple definition of environmental education is “education in, about and for the environment”. It suggests that what we learn should have an impact on how we live.

It is not enough to know about our environment or even to say that we care. As we become more conscious that we are an integral part of our social and ecological environment, we are challenged to live in ways that honour and sustain life on Earth.nv

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