Environmental Education in Scotland: Prospects and Problems

  • J. C. Smyth
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 18)


Difficulty has been experienced in Scotland in defining environmental education in such a way as to give it coherence and academic respectability in the minds of educational administrators. A group in the West of Scotland is currently attempting to develop a theoretical framework which will help to give internal order to a diversity of interesting experiments already in progress. Stress is placed on the development of perceptual capacities, the ability to assess relationships and assemble the components of environmental systems, recognition that systems are dynamic and prediction of the effects of change, evaluation of man-environment interactions both in terms of environmental impact and human behaviour, and appreciation of the channels through which human creativity can be expressed in the establishment of a sound man-environment relationship. The aim is acquisition of environmental competence rather than amassing factual information.

Two main lines of development may be identified in schools. Support has been given to the adoption of an environmental approach to existing curriculum subjects. To be successful, however, this entails overcoming much resistance from traditional attitudes, and adjustments to certificate examinations. The most interesting developments at present are to be found in schools where teams of teachers of several academic disciplines collaborate in multidisciplinary projects, but these are largely confined to non-academic children and suffer in status accordingly, while being very dependent on the special interests and enthusiasms of the staff members involved.

Special problems arise from the restricted experience of children in an industrialized urban area. Even those who study biology at certificate level do not receive as much benefit as they might from the ecology of the certificate syllabus, and many have no contact with ecology in all their school career. Much work remains to be done on the presentation of the basic ecological concepts of environmental education in a form accessible and meaningful to the bulk of the country’s future voters and tax-payers. To a great extent this entails the identification of appropriate and well-understood illustrative material, in which the help of professional ecologists is much needed. Whatever is chosen must also be appealing to the children whose interests may otherwise be impossible to enlist.


Environmental Education Certificate Examination Academic Respectability Educational Priority Educational Administrator 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Smyth
    • 1
  1. 1.Paisley College of TechnologyPaisley, RenfrewshireScotland, UK

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