Fritjof Capra on “Ecology and Community”

Fritjof Capra is one of my very favourite thinkers on systems thinking and ecological literacy. He works hard to distill big ideas into digestible chunks, and his very way of organizing his thoughts mirrors the interconnected that he sees in all life. I just recently happened upon this essay on “Ecology and Community” and I like it so much that I wanted to have it available on our blog. 

Let’s get practical. How can this vision of ecoliteracy be part of our lessons, our units, our planning with colleagues, the way we organize our schools, and the Board itself?

Send us your thoughts and your connections!    -ED

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3 thoughts on “Fritjof Capra on “Ecology and Community”

  1. Pingback: Ecological literacy, ecology, and the mysteries of life | Ecoliteracy in EcoSchools

  2. You raise an interesting question Sunday. Is sensory engagement the most important prerequisite to successfully ‘mapping’ (i.e., understanding the dimensions of) a relationship? I suspect that we need that old standby answer “it depends.” Some kinds of learners do indeed need direct experience to tap into that connection. But perhaps not all learners—people whose learning style is abstract-cognitive can find a different pathway to understanding human-nature relationships, which can nonetheless be enhanced by experiential learning.

    Your second question, “do field trips on their own give students’ sufficient experiential and sensory engagement” is easier to answer. No. We clearly need more, both of field trips and of everyday activities that engage the senses. A well-thought-through field trip can be a wonderful experience to bring life itself into the curriculum. A poorly conducted field trip, where only one sense is engaged or where there is no connection to the students’ interest or prior experience, sometimes known as “walk and gawk” outings, may have little impact.

    In most cases, it is repeated or similar experience of an environment that pays the biggest dividend for deepening understanding and a sense of connection. Humans love novelty; but we also love repetition. Field trips are costly and necessarily infrequent; everyday experience in the school garden, the neighbourhood park, or in the classroom itself, is not.

    For a sideways continuation of this discussion, check out the December 19th blog entry, Paying Attention.

    Eleanor Dudar, EcoSchools Specialist and
    Pam Miller, EcoSchools Instructional Leader

  3. Wow. “Relationships cannot be weighed and measured, they need to be mapped.” (paraphrased) Simple, erudite, wise. Translating Capra’s thinking to real engagements for students, I’d opine that the experiential and sensory engagement is most important when starting this mapping process. What is the role of experiential learning in a system geared to sitting at a desk and “paying attention”? Do field trips meet this need, or do we require more everyday ways to engage all five senses in learning?

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