Publisher: Oxford University Press Date of Publication: 2006
Price: ISBN: n/a
Pages: xxvi + 458 Format: Proof Copy

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1 - Designing successful conservation education and outreach; 2 - Learning and teaching with adults and youth; 3 - Changing conservation behaviors; 4 - Conservation education in schools; 5 - Making conservation come alive; 6 -Using the arts for conservation; 7 - Connecting classes and communities with conservation; 8 - Networking for conservation; 9 - Marketing conservation; 10 - Getting out your message with the written word; 11 - Taking advantage of educational technology; 12 - Designing on-site activities.



Many years ago I started a conservation class with an exercise: market conservation for X (where X might be tiger, plague rat, head louse or giant panda etc. - all endangered in some way!). A motley collection but it did make students think because it demanded that we go behind the public persona of the animal to think about the nature and rationale of conservation. It was a great starter and did create a good deal of discussion (if not friction by those who got the louse in the draw!). The point was made - conservation-as-education requires careful thinking and planning if it to be successful. Such discussions as this are rare which is why I took up the offer of a proof copy (a first for this review site); it didn't hurt that with 30 years in conservation education including 20 in field courses I felt it would be instructive to get my own thoughts questioned.

Chapter one starts where all good education should - in the planning stage. The method proposed here is a simple plan-implement-evaluate form that should cause one to think but not get bogged down in trivia. Of course, simple doesn't mean easy: it's very clear that there are a number of areas to look at including audience and resources. A pilot scheme is best and evaluation needs to be planned before rather than after! Chapter two turns to finding an acceptable pedagogy. Sometimes the learners will be adult and child-methods won't work. Adolescents need another approach again and so the actual instructional methodology becomes important. There is also discussion about learning styles and new pedagogies making this chapter an ideal overview for all aspects of teaching. We might argue that education aims to elicit change behaviour but conservation education sees this as a key area - to improve the environment, attitudes must change. Thus chapter three examines the various strategies that can be employed. Chapter four looks at conservation in schools. It is clear from the work that conservation is expected to come from outside - indeed much of the chapter looks at how organisations can work with (rather than from within) schools. Whereas this is certainly the case in many instances (and this is a US-centred text where conservation is less formally included than in the UK) it's a pity not to see the extent to which conservation is already part of the curriculum. Chapter five gets to the heart of conservation education - make it live. If you're lucky enough to get a practical, field-centred course then it's easy but there are also methods you can use for the more school-bound courses. Rather than have a simple exploration of each of a range of techniques, this chapter takes each method in turn and, using the framework of chapter one, shows how it can be implemented. Chapter six shows that conservation is not just one subject. Art - in its broadest sense (fine art, literature, theatre etc.) - is a fine medium to use because it can get the students involved and thinking. Again we have the same approach as previously with a careful run-through of how an activity can be structured. Although it's possible to have conservation within the school grounds it is far better in the wider community. To this end, chapter seven looks at the range from community service through projects and issues to community and civics education. Chapter 8 branches out from the class focus. Here, the aim is to spread the message and, still using the framework, the intending networker is shown the various routes to be tried - conferences, presentations, booths, workshops etc. To keep with this theme the next chapter looks at marketing. It is clear that this aims to go far beyond the school setting into the broader community by using billboards, models, signs etc. Alternatively, as with chapter 10 you can write. Opinion article, letters to the editor, news releases, brochures etc. are all available to spread the message. Taking another angle, technology can now give very broad, low-cost solutions. Video and websites are mentioned alongside distance learning which demonstrates the breadth of the approaches. Finally, you can get visitors to your site through a mixture of exhibits and activities.

This is an excellent text. It has brought together a wide range of activities and ideas which will make the work of the conservation educator (and in most cases any educator!) that much easier. It acknowledges the wide role that conservation education has to play especially in the times of the Millennium Development Goals. There is a very useful mix of theory and practice that makes it more likely that the teacher will be able to both pick and justify an appropriate approach for the activity. The use of the plan-implement-evaluate framework might seem a little overdone in places but this is to see the work from the eye of the experienced, not the beginner. Overall, this book should be required reading in all conservation education classes and indeed any teacher-training class because it combines all the elements needed to produce good education in these times.


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