Community environmental attitudes and the Victorian school curriculum: An historical narrative of their connections from 1835 to 2000
AuthorPrice, Garry George
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Garry George Price
This historical narrative explores the connections between community environmental attitudes and the Victorian school curriculum from 1835, the year of the first official communication about education in the Port Phillip District (now Victoria), to 2000, the year of the implementation of Curriculum and Standards Framework II, the revised version of the first comprehensive curriculum for Victorian primary and secondary schools. The thesis is divided into three major time periods based on political developments in Victoria, viz, the Colonial Era from 1835 to 1900, from Federation in 1901 to the end of the 1950s and from 1960 to 2000. During the Colonial Era the prevailing view was that of anthropocentrism with the natural environment being there for exploitation by humans. This view was both reflected and promoted in the Victorian school curriculum as shown, inter alia, by the contents of The Irish National Readers, The Royal Readers and the early copies of The School Paper. The period from Federation until the end of the 1950s was characterised by an expansion of exploitation of the natural environment and by a relatively inert Victorian school curriculum, albeit with increasing emphasis on Australian content especially in The School Paper and The Victorian Readers. Teaching was usually didactic and learning was largely mimetic. The period from 1960 to 2000 saw continued exploitation of the natural environment but it also saw significant dissonance in much of the Western world, contributing to a rise in environmental consciousness and consequent environmentalism. The changes in community environmental attitudes were recognised in the Victorian school curriculum with the development of 'environmental' content to be taught in a constructivist manner, albeit less successfully than was initially expected because of, inter alia, the lack of resources and inadequate appropriate training of teachers.
Keywordscommunity environmental attitudes; environmentalism; Victorian school curriculum; environmental education
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