River Advocacy: Valuing Complex Systems as the Groundwork for River Relationships
Environmental educators commonly make use of stream studies to develop their students’ understanding of the interrelationships of the natural world and provide them with an authentic context for investigating problems associated with our resources. By engaging in local stream monitoring, students become familiar with riparian systems and water-quality standards that scientists and regulators use to assess the health of a water body. Although water-quality standards provide the legal backing to address impairments, an educator’s aim of collecting and analyzing numerical water-quality data reduces the complexity of a river to the degree that it limits how students relate to and understand biological systems. If educators desire to guide students to share in responsibility for what occurs in our society, teachers should reconsider how to effectively foster a conscientiousness of nature and build connections with biological systems as part of their instruction. In this chapter, I suggest educators ought to move toward curricula reforms that delve into the complexity of living systems and focus on the underpinning question of a river’s rights to accomplish their environmental education goals.
KeywordsCurriculum Reform Heighten Awareness Stream Study Address Impairment Stream Monitoring
Funding for this project was provided by a USDA-CSREES 406 grant cooperating with the University of Georgia. Findings will be used to inform state and regional Extension water-quality programs as well as science educators.
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