The Role of Environmental Narratives and Social Positioning in How Place Gets Constructed for and by Youth
Tzou et al., 2010
Abstract: A growing set of research projects in science education are working from the assumption that science literacy can be constituted as being centrally focused on issues of social justice for the youth and for communities involved in such work (Calabrese Barton, 2003). Despite well-established links among race, class, and exposure to environmental health risks, environmental education is failing to take into account the environmental issues pertinent to youth who are most impacted by the most pressing modern environmental issues (Lewis & James, 1995). We therefore need to better understand how the places where environmental education occurs are themselves sites of cultural conflict that position youth in ways that limit access to certain learning pathways. Here, we ask the following questions: (a) How are places constructed for and by youth in traditional environmental education? and (b) What are implications of this construction of place for the design of instruction that connects youths' sense of place with environmental learning? Through ethnographic analysis we have identified two social processes in how place gets constructed for and by youth: through multifaceted and juxtaposed narratives and through the social positioning of youth, by themselves and other social actors, in places where environmental education occurs.