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Nature Education and Ecology
Ecology is growing in education, from schoolyard habitat, to international programs such as Earth Day, and ongoing curriculum changes. Practical Biology Education in Japan is one example. This intriguing view of education can inspire new learning projects...in your own backyard, as well as the schoolyard.
The following overviews of innovative learning experiences by Japanese educators illustrates creative approaches to practical study of biology in schools and the community.
***ByeBye to the rabbit hutch***
"Rabbit hutch" is not used here to mean a typical tiny Japanese home. It is a cage for raising small animals such as rabbit or chicken in a schoolyard. Almost every elementary or secondary school and some high schools have such a place for the culture of aesthetic sentiments in children.
However, I believe that raising pets in a habitat far different from their original environment only requires students to experience a routine feeding and cleaning task, and cannot have any educational priority. On the contrary, the biotop, which is a small, artificially designed nature garden where a microcosm consisting of various natural organisms and their ecological harmony can be observed, may provide students with wider environmental scope and better sense of humanity.
With a biotop as the basis for environmental, biological, and even ethical education, biology teachers can play an active and effective role in establishing sentiments good for nature as well as for human beings.
Harufumi Nishida Laboratory of Geoscience & Biology, Faculty of Science & Engineering, Chuo University
*** Today's Environmental Education Is Reaching a New Phase ***
Important issues of education in Japan are to help children develop their ability to think skillfully using perceptual and cognitive skills -- the ability to analyze, categorize and synthesize. Children regain lost creativity through nurturing their natural sense of sympathy, establish a sense of self and develop the ability to find ways of overcoming difficulties. These thinking skills can be summarized as a 'zest for living'.
Environmental education is vital in order to tackle the problem of lost creativity of children.
Kimiko Kozawa Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan Abstract
More information can be found at the following Web site: Tokyo Gakugei University Japan
For information about creating or certifying a Schoolyard Habitats program, visit http://www.nwf.org/habitats
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