Soci360 Paper

1142 words - 5 pages

Personal Values and Beliefs, Education and the Natural World

The major force that is shaping the way in which people see the environment today is on the surface personal value and beliefs; however, when these values and beliefs are examined, it can be seen that the education system has a major influence on shaping them. Unfortunately, these values and beliefs reflect a separation from the environment with the environment being seen as a source to be exploited for human gain. Fain, Barantovich and Martin (2004) contrast traditional education systems, which involve the transmission of knowledge from the elders to the younger generations to modern education systems, which focuses on ...view middle of the document...

137). I feel that Bai’s critique of Descartes is summed up perfectly by Berry (1996): “In a single stroke Descartes, in a sense, killed the planet and all its living creatures with the exception of the human” (in Bai, 2009, p. 137). It is here that we find the genesis of the perspective that human beings are completely separate form and superior to the natural world. Bai traces this negative influence of Descartes back to Plato’s “campaign for privileging the conceptual and discursive consciousness” (p. 141). Essentially, Bai blames the success of Plato’s discursive for numbing human senses across the globe.
The focus, therefore, for Bai is not on the environment. That is, Bai is not advocating for the rehabilitation of the environment. Instead, she is arguing for the rehabilitation of humanity. She is asking all of humanity to rediscover its animism, as “fundamentally, environmental problems are us” (Bai, 2012, p. 311). This coincides with Orr’s (1994) argument that “The disordering of ecological systems and of the great biogeochemical cycles of the earth reflects a prior disorder in the thought, perception, imagination, intellectual priorities, and loyalties inherent in the industrial mind” (p. 3). However, for this to be accomplished, there needs to be drastic changes made to current mainstream educational systems.
Bai argues that the human race has been experiencing psychic numbing, which is responsible for the human indifference that exists when it comes to our destruction of the environment, which she refers to as ecocide (p. 135). For Bai, our lack of concern for the environment is based on a mindset that sees the earth and nature as something to be tamed, conquered and exploited by humans. Education often breaks subject matter into compartmentalized units and then emphasizes “theories, not values; abstraction rather than consciousness” (Orr, 1994, p. 7). Therefore, it is often the case that a separation emerges between students and the natural world where the natural world is seen as something that humans can dominate and exploit (p. 8), which is exactly the perspective that hegemonic neoliberal capitalism wants students to have.
This cultivated perception of the natural world is often augmented by a generally passive engagement with all subject matter, which makes the subject matter itself lifeless. The type of educational methodology that encourages passive engagement with and separation from all subject matter, including the natural world, is what Paolo Freire (2000) describes as the banking concept of education, which is like a narrative with the teacher providing the content of the narrative...

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