Learning for the natural environment: The case against anthropocentrism

Horsthemke, Kai
October 2009
US-China Education Review;Oct2009, Vol. 6 Issue 10, p22
Academic Journal
The world (Africa in particular) is in a progressive state of environmental crisis, caused by global warming, loss of biodiversity, human overpopulation, pollution, massive deforestation and desertification, urbanization and many other environmental problems and risk factors. For several commentators and theorists, part of the solution resides in the provision of pertinent and adequate education, including environmental education. The present paper briefly examines the history of environmental education, internationally and in South Africa, and some of its most prominent current trends and issues, before critiquing its general orientation. Arguing against what appears to lie at the heart of environmental education and literacy, namely anthropocentrism (ideas like "education for sustainable development"), the paper urges a radical rethinking of its central concerns and modus operandi, in terms of facilitating learning for the natural environment. In other words, in order to live up to its promise of contributing towards life beyond the twenty-first century, such learning must include the realization that nature matters in and for itself.


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