Intersecting environmental education & media production: A case study in a Brazilian public school

The formal school system has been deemed to help build the necessary knowledge and attitudes needed to support environmental literacy through its environmental education (EE) initiatives. However, in a reality regulated by inexact educational policies and strong socio-economical inequalities—to say the least—the room for critical thinking can be very limited, thus compromising any serious attempt to empower those living in marginalized conditions to look after and/or change their local environment. Therefore, teachers and students are often challenged with having to give their contribution to today’s ecological issues by providing, promoting and advancing EE programs that quite often contradicts the very political and economical structure they are an important part of. In this context, how can we—teachers, students, and researchers—move EE more successfully into the non-elitist stream of our society? Based on field observations and videotapes of science classroom interactions, the present research describes and articulates how the use of media-based activities—i.e., production of video and photo documentaries, podcast, and web-based newsletter—mediate socio-economically underpriviledged students’ critical engagement in understanding, caring for and transforming their local school environment. Our findings also suggest how these activities can develop teachers and students’ abilities to deal with media in the processes of learning in society. In addition, the materials produced provide participants with opportunities to have their voices heard, thus informing reflective (metacognitive) classroom ecopedagogy practices towards the ecologizing of curricula in marginalized school settings, where participants rarely have choice or control over what the do.