Implication of community embedded praxis (TM) on environmental change

Community Embedded Praxis (TM)* is a philosophical orientation that is very unique in public and community education. Called ‘reconceptualism' in pedagogical circles, it is based on the teachings of Dr. Ted Aoki (U of A) and work of Paulo Friere (‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed') amongst others, and investigates the notion of what does it mean ‘to become educated'.

Through a philosophical approach that engenders community, youth, and educator as equal working partners, mandated curriculum moves out of the text books, out of the school, and into the community learning fields where it lives. This philosophical approach to education from grade 2 to 12, holds as its belief that a way to prepare youth for life is to do life.

Youth and community have the benefit of differentiated teaching and learning, resources become the community-at-large, while the sites are localized and connected in day-to-day life. Rather than costing more, this approach enriches education and community by looking from a different orientation as to what is of value and what has lasting value in schooling. Youth are embedded in their learning within the community, and become contributing partners, negotiating authentic and meaningful change. Lifelong attitudes for positive community relationships are nurtured.

Children and youth spend over half of their school hours out in community engaged in authentic community projects connected to mandated curriculum where local not-for-profit organizations (Science Centre, Nature Centre, Interpretive Centre, Astronomy Club, etc.), public and private businesses not only augment the government curriculum, but also open opportunities for youth to become engaged as change agents.

Through working in the critically reflective modality, youth, community and educator become partners in seeking out environmental and societal issues, then work together advocating, marshalling, and instituting change. Becoming educated moves from the empirical-scientific way of knowing, into the constructivist situational-interpretive way of knowing and doing, to the critically reflective knowing, doing and knowing of the doing for change. On a planet where sustainability is not possible until there has been reduction, and re-thinking of all that we do, this approach of community embedded praxis holds promise for the present and the future.

The workshop will have four aspects:

1. provide the participant with an example of one highly successful model of 16 years duration where this philosophy was the underlying inspiration

2. take the participants through an exercise in building educational experience from three distinct philosophical modalities

3. share specific, and authentic examples of community building in the area of environment

4. allow participants to brainstorm, and work in small discussion groups to link what they know and have practiced to the notions presented in the workshop.

*Community Embedded Praxis is a trade marked phrase to indicate a particular understanding of reconceptualist philosophy as it relates to classroom practice.