Concept and Scope Environmental Studies Syllabus and Study Material
Environmental Studies is Considered an approach based upon the child’s investigation of his locality which leads to the progressive development of skills, concepts and attitudes required for the study of other environments in time and space. The communication media required for such studies also necessitate an ever increasing use of language and mathematics. It is not thought of as a subject with a body of factual information but rather as a way of learning through enquiry. Environment studies involves a child in activities which are base upon his observation and investigation of his surroundings. The approach has two-fold aim of arousing and developing the child’s desire to know more about his world an aiding him in the development of skills he needs to interpret it.
Environmental studies’ approach is based upon the general view of learning and especially on the two stages which establish the development of children from a level of ‘Concrete operation’ to one defined as the level of ‘Formal operation’. In moral traditional terms it implies moving from ‘concrete to abstract’, from ‘known to unknown’ and from ‘particular to general’.
The basic concept is to train children to observe more closely and more accurately without as first making any attempt to differentiate historical, geographical and scientific investigation. Repeated opportunities for children to examine material which, by nature and variety is suitable for their age, will stress the development of a general scientific attitude. The pattern of observation, experimentation, recording and interpretation should become the recognized way for the children.
The Curriculum for The Ten-Year School’ has enviasaged environment studies to include both natural and social environments in class I and II. It has used the term social studies to that part of environmental studies that deals with the social environment at the primary stage (Class III to V) and general environment studies to the part dealing with natural environment.
It may be pointed out that since the environment and the experiences outside the school vary from place to place, the activities provided in the school should also vary so that the edifice of knowledge is built not on abstract concepts alone but also on the solid foundations of experience drawn from the environment of the child.
There has been a constant debate on heredity and environment as regards influence of these factors in the development of personality of an individual. Behaviorists are of this view that environment is all in all in the development of personality and heredity is nothing to do in it. Others say that heredity has an important role in the personality development.
The main focus of educational process is to develop the child personality, therefore main job of education is to create conductive environment for the child in educational institutions. The development of any type-physical, social, economical, cultural, etc. require an appropriate or desirable environment. Therefore, in the present chapter meaning, structure and process of the environment have been discussed.
What is Environmental Studies?
Man is inquisitive by nature. He tries to find the ‘How and Why’ of all that happens in nature and in his surroundings. His spirit of enquiry at first extends to most simple facts of nature. A child would like to know, how to wind blows; what stuff the clouds are made of and how a small seed grows into a huge tree.
In the process of search for knowledge an truth, man has accumulated a vast store of knowledge known as environment studies through which
- We can obtain sufficient help to understand ourselves, our surroundings and environment,
- We can also get help for making the forces around us favourable to us,
- We can further obtain the basis for improving and making our lives more comfortable by making adjustments in the new discoveries and in old stock of knowledge,
- This store of knowledge gained, can be transferred from one generation to another for preservation and progress of civilization.
So far we have understood environmental studies as an overall product of human activity in the form of a systematic and organized body of knowledge. The form of environmental studies so emerged is the product of all facts connected with our information, concepts, generalizations, laws and theories framed on the basis of vast and limitless fund of accumulated knowledge. This knowledge of environmental studies is divided for our convenience into several branches like physics, chemistry, agriculture, biology, etc.
The picture of environmental studies so far obtained can hardly be termed as complete. Truly speaking it does not depict its true form and nature. Science is not only mass of accumulated knowledge but in fact it is the real an ultimate cause and source of such accumulated knowledge. If we think deeply we will find that environmental studies is the process and method of explaining that knowledge. Science has shown us the method and process of explaining and accumulating the vast fund of this knowledge. It teaches us the cause and effect relationship. It guides us in the solution of problems objectively without any bias and prejudice and as such it directs us in the real pursuit for truth. Thinking in this way Environmental studies cannot be merely termed as a process or method adopted in the search for truth.
In view of the above discussion, we can derive the following conclusions about the form, meaning and nature of the environmental studies:
Science is a process as well as the product of that process. In its process form it suggests the ways and means of exploring the truth and in its product form it presents a systematic and organized body of useful knowledge.
The process form of the environmental studies is more important than its product form as the way of exploring the truth and acquiring knowledge is always given more preference in environmental studies than the more memorization or gaining knowledge of the accumulated facts.
The environmental studies constantly remains in the search for truth and what it gets on account of this search can never be taken as absolutely and permanently true. These results can be challenged and modified or altered in view of the further explanation and findings. Therefore, environmental studies by its nature is always dynamic and not static.
The method or process adopted by environmental studies in the explanation of truth is quite unique and distinct from the methods adopted in such study by other subjects. It is known as scientific method and is characterized by the qualities like logically sound, highly valid as well as sufficiently reliable, impartial and objective in its procedure and approach.
Science through its study helps in bringing a typical change in the attitude of its study helps in bringing a typical change in the attitude of its reader sand followers. The development of such attitude is known as scientific attitude. The person having such attitude is found to have love for the explanation of truth by adopting true means for such exploration and ‘believing in the results of such true findings.’
Thus, in view of its true nature and temperament, environmental studies may be seen to discharge two types of responsibilities namely- (i) Investigation and exploration of the facts and (ii) Building of a systematic and organized body of facts as a result of such explanation.
In reaching its second stage, environmental studies attempts to provide us such systematic and organized information comprising scientific facts, concepts, generalizations, laws and theories which may prove helpful to all of us not only in enhancing the span of our knowledge but also in finding the solution of our problems and making our life happier as much as possible. Let us now try to know the nature of the facts, concepts, generalizations, laws and theories that are known to be associated with the accumulated body of scientific information.
Concepts play an important role in the accumulation, understanding and application of the knowledge in the subject environmental studies. These are very vital in understanding the language that the environmental studies and environmental studies people speak: For example, let us take the concept of ‘solid’. Mere hearing the word ‘solid’ or finding its glimpse on the blackboard or paper, one can understand and know so many things about the nature and characteristics of the substance solid. The immediate reaction is the emergence of a mental image quite different and distinguished from other forms of the matter e.g., liquids and gases. These mental images and impressions are the results of the definite concepts formed by us regarding the three different forms of the matter i.e., solids, liquids and gases. Similarly, the different concepts formed for different solids help us in distinguishing and separating different solids from one another.
Actually concepts are nothing but the generalized ides or notions formed by us towards an object, person or event. These are essentially based on our previous experiences-direct or indirect. ‘Solid’, ‘liquid’ and ‘gases’ are thus represent the concept of certain things and objects related to our scientific vocabulary. Similarly, Scientists, Engineers, Laboratory attendants, Doctors represent the concept of persons belonging to the word of environmental studies and reflection, evaporation, melting point dew-point, reproduction, germination etc. Can be attributed as the concept of various scientific terms and processes used in the study of environmental studies.
Another important feature of the concepts is that they do not represent merely a particular object, person or event but extend to the whole class of that particular object, person or situation.
Scope and relation with other fields