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David Sobel is a regular essayist and contributing editor of Community Works Journal and is a Senior Faculty  in the Education Department at Antioch University New England. He also coordinates Antioch's new Nature-based Early Childhood program. Through his writing, speaking, and teaching, Through his writing, speaking, and teaching, David plays a major role in what has become a national movement promoting place-based education, an approach that has blossomed—from studying biology in the school yard to creating mapping businesses, and other neighborhood services. Each is an exercise in changing the way students learn about the environment and their place in it. David advocates using students' home turf to study topics and issues related to sustainability, not just ecology but also local history, culture, and the economy. David is the author of a number of books including Children’s Special Places and Beyond Ecophobia.

Educating for Sustainability: An Introduction
Education for Sustainability.
 It’s a tall order. But without some reorientation of our current societal behaviors, the climate will get warmer, the oceans higher, the food supply less dependable, and the gap between rich and poor wider. You know that old saying about how hard it is to change the path of an aircraft carrier? Well, imagine that the aircraft carrier is as big as the earth. It will take a long time and lots of concerted effort on everyone’s part to change the path we’re on. Do we really have any choice? Shall we be like Nero and fiddle as Rome and Moscow burn, as New York and Karachi disappear under the rising tides? Of course not. read more

Taking the Classroom to the Forest: A School's Forest Fridays Program
As academic expectations in public elementary schools become more demanding, some educators have turned to the outdoors as a means of providing meaningful, relevant, and tangible experiences for their students. The Forest Kindergarten movement, which has taken hold in Europe over the past 30 years, takes a very different approach towards early childhood education. Instead of focusing on developing early literacy and numeracy skills, nature preschool and forest kindergarten educators aspire to developing social competence, individual resilience and a readiness to learn in young children. Their conviction is that this real world experience will provide the confidence, resilience and perseverance that are the foundation for increased motivation and improved academic performance. read more

Everyone Ought to Have a Ditch
I spend a lot of time these days talking with teachers, foundation directors, environmental educators, and evaluators about how to most effectively shape environmental stewardship behavior. The $64,000 question is what's the most effective way to educate children who will grow up to behave in environmentally responsible ways? What kinds of learning, or what kinds of experience will most likely shape young adults who want to protect the environment? read more

Swimming Upstream Against the Current: Changing the School Improvement Paradigm
This story captures one of those ineffable aspects of what makes a good teacher and school leader, and what leads to constructive school change. The leader genuinely respects each child and knows that each parent and family can contribute to enhancing the learning environment of the school. The school leader reaches out to find community partners, connects parents with social services, creates opportunities for parents and teachers to learn together. read more

Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education
What contributes to the development of environmental values in adults. What happened in the childhoods of environmentalists, some researchers have asked, to make them grow up with strong ecological values? Louise Chawla of Kentucky State University found an intriguing pattern. Most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of two sources, "many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature." read more

Forts, Land Trusts and Conservation Behavior
She, like many others, spent countless hours working on, playing in and defending her fort-home. Fort-building was an important part of childhood for many of us growing up in the 50's, 60's and 70's if we had access to safe play areas and parents who encouraged independent play in the natural world. It is a form of childhood play that extends back to our hunting and gathering heritage. read more

From High Winterages to Haute Cuisine in the Blink of an Eye
Swooping down the far side toward Slievecarran, we stopped at an abandoned cottage. We shuffled through the broken glass and wall board, imagined a family of 8 or 10 packed into two small bedrooms, huddled around the meager heat from a peat fire, tired after the senseless work of constructing a famine road. This living historical record of recent history and the raft of ancient artifacts of portal tombs, towers, ringforts, abbeys and fire rings is another unique Burren feature. It’s as if all of Irish history was boiled down and concentrated into an historical gumbo—so near at hand and yet reaching so far back into history. read more

Burning Brush: Playing with Fire
The glad animal play of childhood, the complete immersive quality, is one of the elixirs of life and also one of the indispensable proteins that build a sturdy adult soul. Middle childhood offers a window of opportunity to have these experiences, and if a child misses that opportunity, the quality of immersion is less accessible later in life. When, as adults, we sink into a novel or get lost in creative work or tussle with new ideas or improvise on the job, we're using the skills that were roughed in during childhood play. read more

Return of the Redwings
We rambled around campus. It was early March, the snows were slowly receding and, lo and behold, down there on the road from the freshman dorms to the soccer fields there was a small pond, surrounded by a marshy meadow, with a border of eight to ten foot shrubs around it. I'd passed it a hundred times and never given it a second glance. read more

Local Diversity
Whether it's third grade or middle school science, or teacher education at the graduate level, the tone of the pedagogy is set on the first day of school. The cultural norms are launched, the core values exposed. read more

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