A Plan to Amplify Environmental Consciousness in Schools
By Dr. John Peterson, PhD FPA-BM Chairman of the Board
Society realizes that schools have an important duty of social responsibility with the community which they belong, and also understand that, while schools are one of the most important members in the community, they are also one of its most important stakeholders. Our planet is suffering the worst environmental crisis in modern age; and when adding a school’s duty for social responsibility with its important presence in the community, the result is having schools with an ethical obligation to assist on the solution for our environmental crisis. After all, “Taking the environment seriously means rethink how our politics and civic life fit the place we inhabit” (Orr, 2004, p. 168).
Strategy for Solving the Problem
There are already many important initiatives to bring a conscience of environmental preservation to educational institutions. The “green” initiative is gaining momentum. Perhaps one of the best examples is found at the Go Green Initiative website:
The mission of the Go Green Initiative is to provide schools, homes, businesses and organizations of all kinds with the tools and training they need to create a “culture of conservation” within their community. Our goals are to conserve and protect natural resources for future generations, and to protect human health through environmental stewardship. (Go Green Initiative, 2010, para. 1)
Go Green Initiative has – as key approach to their strategy – the creation of an environmental change in schools, by using what they call a “buy-in and support from parents, teachers, custodians and administrators” (Go Green Initiative, 2010, para. 1).
Other instance which there is a parent involvement on initiating a “green” movement towards a more ecologically friendly school is The Green Schools Initiative. The Green Schools Initiative was founded in 2004 by parent-environmentalists who “were shocked by how un-environmental their kids’ schools were and mobilized to improve the environmental health and ecological sustainability of schools in the U.S.” (Green Schools Initiative, 2011, para.1).
I recommend that an efficient strategy to amplify environmental consciousness in schools would be to create a regional database of volunteer schools (for example: a south Florida listing of schools participating and offering a program for environmental consciousness) and support them with tools, training and the funding opportunities they would need to make their program or programs a success. Also other resources, grants and special events would be made available through effective communication.
Technology is crucial when communicating and coordinating action or actions coming from leadership decisions. According to Trilling and Fadel (2009) technology also permits that through communication there is learning from each other’s experiences, as new methods and processes are innovated. Trilling and Fadel (2009) wrote that a 21 century educational program is developed by both distributed and coordinated leadership.
One the most widely used technology today is the Internet. According to Trilling and Fadel (2009),
The learning and thinking power tools of our times and the times to come are well suited for the kinds of experiences most needed to develop 21 century skills – the inquiry, design, and collaborative learning projects that deal with real-world problems, issues, questions, and challenges. (p. 142).
The most effective communication media to create, manage, and support an association of “green” oriented schools would be the use of a portal on the Internet. Internet-based methods of communication, including email, websites, and newer social networking technologies, such as blogs and Facebook, presents new opportunities for school communication.
Ethics, Diversity, and a Shared Vision
Tschannen-Moran (2007) explained that the five constituencies of schools: administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the general public, are related directly to the five aspects of trust – benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, and competence. This is important to understand when building a school program which will have to be supported for all stakeholders involved in the project. One of the strong characteristics of an efficient shared vision is trust.
Ciulla (2004) elucidated that the ability to understand the moral challenges so distinctively faced by leaders and leadership is particularly important for leadership development. One of the important benefits of schools using technology in the implementation and use of the “green” program is verified by a phrase on an article by Bouffard (2008), “Students from all backgrounds benefit equally from Internet-based family-school communication” (para. 20). In my opinion, among these challenges resides the cultural diversity found on so many schools these days.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The strengths and weaknesses of proposing a plan to amplify environmental consciousness in schools is related to what Green (2009) explained being the modes of communication: verbal and nonverbal. According to Green (2009) schools have both formal and informal communication network, and Green (2009) explained that the formal network is conducted by the organization’s structure, while the organization’s individuals are the managers of the informal network.
This is an important differentiation because “the major function of the formal network is to convey information sanctioned by the system” (Green, 2009, p. 129) whereas the informal communication is often associated with rumors. Since the core of the program’s success depends on communication (as explained before in this paper), attention should be taken so a formal mode of communication is always in place, and leadership of the program should be aware of rumors, as Green (2009) wrote, “they can be detrimental to goal attainment” (p. 129).
Society sees schools as a responsible and participative member of the community, and as such they have the ethical obligation to help on the effort to educate and raise the level of environmental consciousness on administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the general public. In order to obtain this goal I suggest a plan to use technology, more specifically the Internet, to create a database of schools with a “green” program in order to support them with tools, training and funding opportunities.
Bouffard, S. (2008, July). Tapping into technology: The role of the Internet in family–school communication [Article]. Retrieved from Harvard Family Research Project Web site: http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/tapping-into-technology-the-role-of-the-internet-in-family-school-communication
Ciulla, J. (2004). Ethics and leadership effectiveness. In J. Antonakis, A. T. Clanciolo, & R. T. Sternberg (Eds.), The nature of leadership (pp. 302-327). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Go Green Initiative (2010). Get started. Retrieved from Go Green Initiative Web site: http://www.gogreeninitiative.org/content/GetStarted/index.html
Go Green Initiative (2010). Our mission. Retrieved from Go Green Initiative Web site: http://www.gogreeninitiative.org/content/About/
Green Schools Initiative. (2011). About us. Retrieved from http://www.greenschools.net/article.php?list=type&type=4
Green, R. L. (2009). Practicing the art of leadership: A problem-based approach to implementing the ISLLC standards (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.
Orr, D. W. (2004). Earth in mind: On education, environment, and the human prospect (10 anniversary ed.). Washington, DC: Island Press.
Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21 century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
Tschannen-Moran, M. (2007). Becoming a trustworthy leader. In Jossey-Bass (Ed.), The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership (2 ed., pp. 99-113). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.