Independent Commission on Environmental Edcuation (ICCE)

K-12 Environmental Education Teaching Materials - April 1997

Salmon, Jeffrey. Are We Building Environmental Literacy? Journal of Environmental Education, 00958964, summer 2000, Vol. 31, Issue 4.

ICEE report Findings

  • Study of the environment is an important subject for grades K-12.
  • Teachers are the key to successful environmental education, but the materials often fail to give them the support they need.
  • Environmental education should not be confused with environmental science, but materials that are not based on the best available science do not promote environmental literacy.
  • Environmental education materials often do not provide a framework for progressive building of knowledge.
  • Environmental education has become needlessly controversial.
  • Environmental education materials often fail to prepare students to deal with controversial environmental issues.
  • Environmental education materials often fail to help students understand the tradeoffs in addressing environmental problems.
  • Factual errors are common in many environmental education materials and textbooks.
  • Many high school environmental science textbooks have serous flaws. Some provide superficial coverage of science. Others mix science with advocacy.
  • There is no relationship between the quality of the material and the authoritative recommendations that accompany the publications.

ICEE recommendations
it believes must be implemented if environmental education is to gain the stature it deserves.

  • Environmental educators should place primary emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Students in the lower elementary grades should begin the study of science with the study of the natural world.
  • Schools should consider teaching environmental education as an upper-level multi-disciplinary capstone course integrating what students have learned in science, social studies and other upper-level courses.
  • Professional scientific and educational organizations such as the AAAS and NSTA should recommend educational materials only after a detailed, substantive review by experts has found them to be accurate.
  • Publishers must reevaluate their peer review process for environmental science textbooks and environmental education materials.
  • Textbook adoption committees and educational professionals responsible for selection of materials at the state and local levels should ask scientist, economists, and other experts, in addition to parents and teachers, to review materials for accuracy.
  • Environmental educational materials at all levels should provide more substantive content in natural science and social science than they now provide.
  • Teachers need substantive preparation in science, economics, and mathematics to teach environmental education.
  • An independent review process conducted by experts from the areas covered in environmental education should be established to perform ongoing evaluations of curricula in this field.