Developing environmental education in Brazilian primary schools focused on emancipatory actions and ecological citizenship : an action research approach
In 1997, environmental education was incorporated as one of five cross-curriculum themes in the Brazilian Curriculum for schools. Notwithstanding this, the status of environmental education in schools is generally marginal The separation between concrete environmental problems experienced by children and environmental education practice generally results in a failure to construct a more sustainable and equitable society. Considering that teachers are important agents in the construction of an emancipatory environmental education concerned with sustainable alternatives, citizenship and social justice, this study focuses on the development of praxis-oriented research grounded by an action research methodology. The action research was developed with 36 primary teachers from four public schools in Ponta Grossa, Parana, Brazil. The goal was to provide teachers with an opportunity to reflect on their practices and to encourage changes regarding the development of their students' critical thinking and emancipatory actions towards environmental problem solving. The analysis of the findings gathered from distinct phases of the research - teachers' planning, taking actions, evaluation and (re)planning - indicated important progress in changing pedagogical practice of environmental education. As a result of the action research, most of the participating teachers were able to move from reductionist conceptions to more complex understandings of environmental problems. The findings endorsed the importance of promoting environmental education connected with real problems experienced by children in terms of developing skills to critically analyse and implement solutions to environmental problems.