Recently, I read an article published by The Rising titled “Could online learning actually be a positive for environmental education?” by Ari Kelo. This particular piece caught my eye because it brings up the topic of environmental education and the implications that COVID-19 has on it for students. Part of my job this summer is to help amplify the importance of environmental justice within the larger social justice movement, and the classroom is where I am aiming that focus.
The article definitely challenged the way that I think about my work. For example, Nobis Project emphasizes the importance of experiencing social justice learning through traveling or field trips. However, Kelo brings up the idea that online learning could potentially benefit environmental education as a whole due to the vast amount of online resources that there are on the subject. This conflicts with both the principles that Nobis Projects stands by and what I am trying to accomplish, as I help craft environmental education materials that will eventually be used for field trips. However, this is the world that we are living in now – environmental education online is definitely better than no environmental education at all. But I will stand by the fact that real-world experiences that teach about environmental justice are superior to merely reading about environmental justice issues online.
Though Kelo points out that one consequence of COVID-19 is decreased ability for children to go out into nature, she ignores the possibility that people are actually increasing their ventures into naturesince the disease’s outbreak. After being cooped up indoors for months, some people are feeling a greater urge to take a walk outside and explore their surroundings. However, for those who do not live near a particularly natural space, Kelo also discusses how the trend of staying indoors could lead to a spike in cases of nature deficit disorder, “the phenomenon wherein too little exposure to nature can have profound physical, mental, and developmental consequences.” I definitely like how she included that perspective in her piece because it sheds light on a consequence of COVID-19 is actually an existing, labeled disorder and gives the disorder recognition in the media. Lastly, I wish Kelo had included how advantageous field trips arefor students growth, development, and ability to grasp concepts to contrast her statements about the benefits of online environmental learning.