Meta-Reflection Video


When I registered for this class, I imagined it to be a class in which they taught us how to teach about the environment in a school setting. Since I didn’t have environmental science in high school, I wasn’t quite sure what an environmental science class would cover. With that, my idea of a university level environmental science education class would incorporate the materials I learned in the environment units in elementary school and how to teach them. This included learning about different climates, species, rocks, minerals, and any other organisms or materials found on earth, as well as touch on topics of global warming and climate change and ways to “save the planet” from these issues. Although the class did touch on some of these topics, they were covered in a different way. In other words, this class went beyond my expectations of what environmental education really is and has changed my view on how environmental science should be taught and incorporated in the classroom.

On the first day of class, we were asked to write a blog post about our favourite outdoor environment on our google community. Many of us wrote about vacations or recreational activities – mine included. I wrote about my experiences visiting the Philippines, specifically Palawan. Throughout the rest of the course, we created a total of four weekly creative journals, an ecoliteracy love letter or poem, learned about the inquiry pedagogy, and did a project on embodying ecoliteracy. These assignments and projects encouraged us all to reflect on what the environment meant to us and throughout the process allowed us to realize how much more there is to environmental education. The term meta-reflection means a reflection on reflections. I thought about ways on how I will make this reflection reflect on my past reflections in the class. I then came up with the question “how do these blog posts, journals, and class materials all connect?” Similar to the ecoliteracy braid, I began digging into specific themes or similarities that my posts had and I found some that really stood out to me. Like a braid, I grouped these themes into three sections: Acts of reciprocity, exclusion in environmental education, and earth as the educator.

For the first creative journal, the question we were given to reflect on was “what does the environment mean to you?” With that question in mind, I thought of many outdoor moments in my life, such spending times outdoors in my own backyard or the lake as well as memories of travelling – this included trips to the Rockies in Alberta and to the islands of the Philippines. Although all these moments were what I thought defined the environment meant to me, I took a different path and drew a picture of a phone taking a photo of the Wascana marsh instead. On the screen, I included a picture that I took while we did our first practicing stillness activity. During that moment, I caught myself taking a picture and realized how attached I was to my phone that I couldn’t even spend those few minutes in nature without being distracted by it. After taking the photo, I put my phone away and tried to focus and be one with nature. I believe this marked the beginning of a new understanding and greater appreciation towards nature. This brings me to the idea of reciprocity and my first act of reciprocity being appreciative towards nature and even greeting a tree by shaking its branch. Furthermore, our first reading on Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Maple Nation encouraged me to think about the fact that the Earth is constantly taking care of us by providing us with resources such as water to drink, food to eat, and land to live on; While on the other hand, human-kind is deteriorating it and taking it for granted. Another reading that ties into this subject is Kimmerer’s Epiphany in the Beans. This reading states that the garden is like a mother and that it takes care of us. Sadly, not all human beings are taking the time to be reciprocal by doing the same to the earth. Not only did this reading help me connect to the topic of reciprocity, but it also allowed me to connect with my Embodying Ecoliteracy project and the importance of taking a leap into making a difference, rather than small steps, as suggested in the Leap Manifesto. Through my Embodying Ecoliteracy project, I was able to learn ways of gardening in ecofriendly manners. I also learned the negative effects that transportation of produce has on the environment. With that, by buying local or growing our own produce, we can be reciprocal to the earth by reducing our carbon footprint. Overall, these readings and projects taught me the importance of loving and caring for the earth and ways to do it, as well as the importance of educating others on this fact, as well.

Sometimes tied into reciprocity is the question “what is left out?” Many times, as mentioned in Kimmerer’s Maple Nation, people don’t take the time to appreciate what the Earth is giving us and with that single-sided stories, lack of reciprocity, and exclusion occurs. This leads me to the second idea I took from my reflections – the exclusion in environmental education. As previously mentioned, on the first day of class I wrote about one of my favourite outdoor spaces, one of the islands in the Philippines –  Palawan. When I wrote the post, I mentioned its large mountains, clear waters, fresh air, and delicious food – but what is missing from this is the history of the place. It wasn’t until later in the course where we talked about land ownership and colonialism that I thought about this. I began to think “what is the history of this land that I find myself loving?” or “who lived here first? – was this place colonized like how Canada was?” Being caught up in the beauty of the island is fine, its good to admire what the Earth has to offer, but it is also important to understand the history of it to gain a deeper appreciation of it. With that, something that I did not pay much attention to was the fact that our idea of environmental education follows a very colonial structure. Jade Ho’s article Traveling with a World of Complexity: Critical Pedagogy of Place and My Decolonizing Encounters does a great job at explaining the importance of incorporating the history of the land into environmental education. With that, my fourth and final creative journal was inspired by this article, as well as our field trip to the Regina Indian Industrial School. For this visual, I created a collage of articles and symbols to represent the colonization of Canada, the girl in the middle to represent myself, and the blindfold to represent how colonization has blinded us from seeing the truth. My third creative journal also reflects the idea of the importance of acknowledging, understanding, and integrating Indigenous pedagogies and the history of the land into the Euro-western pedagogies and environmental education. The article that goes along with this journal, Liz Newberry’s Canoe Pedagogy, also does a fantastic job at explaining this as it states that the Euro-westernized way of teaching hides the Indigenous half of Canada’s history. The importance of acknowledging that there is missing material in environmental education is because it is our jobs as future educators to ensure that they end up being incorporated.

Something strange about some environmental education classes is that the missing material includes the environment itself. This leads me to my third and final strand – The earth as the educator. I believe that this strand ties the entire braid together and incorporates all my journals, my love letter, and projects. In creating and working on each assignment, I learned that my ecoliteracy, no matter how many books or articles I have read about it, would be non-existent without my outdoor experiences. Growing up, I loved to spend time outside – playing house, gardening, swimming, biking, etcetera. Without these real-life experiences, I would not understand the joys of being outdoors or appreciating the beauty that the world has to offer. This demonstrates the importance of leave no child inside, as well as the impact of Friluftsliv and how these two topics can help us reconnect with nature. I believe that if I had to take away one thing from this class, it would be to allow the earth to do the teaching and to stray away from the anthropocentric ways of thinking, because not everything revolves around humans. Humans cannot live without the earth, but the earth can live without humans. There may be things from readings that resonate with me, but I don’t think any reading, assignment, or time spent sitting in a classroom will be as impactful as any type of experience spent outdoors.

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