Can creative thinking be developed through environmental education? Greek secondary education teachers' views and reflections on this issue

A small-scale qualitative study was conducted with the aim to explore whether Greek teachers believe that the students’ participation in Environmental Education (EE) projects may enhance – and in which ways - their creative thinking. Twenty secondary education teachers were interviewed and the collected data were content analyzed.

According to the participants’ views, EE is an innovation with a reformative and transformative potential for the formal school system education and students themselves. In their discourse, they mainly focus on the educative and pedagogical function of EE: they envision it as a ‘vehicle’ for cultivating more well-balanced and fully developed personalities through the use of innovative educational practices as well as through the change of the traditional teaching and learning conditions.

Most of the teachers agree that EE does enhance students’ creative thinking. According to them, among the factors that have a positive impact are the opportunities students have to actively participate in their process of learning, to promote their personal interests and inclinations, to ‘learn by doing’ in conditions of cooperative learning, group work, and active search of knowledge, to be faced with real problems and deal with them through problem-solving procedures, etc. Moreover, the participants were asked to reflect on the various stages through which an EE project is designed and elaborated and discuss through which particular activities the students’ creative thinking is developed.

The study’s findings unfold a provisional category scheme of the teachers’ conceptions concerning evidence of creative thinking. They furthermore depict frames of teachers’ thinking of how EE may be intertwined with creative thinking enhancement.