Tonia Gray and Carol Birrell have been involved in Nature-Based education since the 1980’s. Both are lecturers in the School of Education, University of Western Sydney and invite you to participate in an ongoing dialogue on Ecopedagogies. In light of the much discussed ‘disconnect’ from Nature, educational moves towards a ‘connect’ with the natural world through ecological ways of experiencing, thinking and knowing are crucial- these are called ecopedagogies.

About the authors:

Tonia Gray is an Associate Professor and Secondary Specialist in Pedagogy and Learning at UWS.  Her research interests closely align to this project: eco-pedagogy, human-nature relationships, and reflection and experiential learning in a variety of educational settings.

In 2009 Tonia received an ALTC Citation for engaging students in life-altering learning, providing a role model for scholarly activity in outdoor education and building an internationally recognized program. With a wealth of experience in curriculum design, implementation and evaluation spanning over three decades, she was awarded an ALTC grant for curriculum design and research specifically to introduce reflective and experience-based learning to international education within tertiary settings.

Her long-term involvement in NSW Curriculum with the Board of Studies and more recently with ACARA in the initial Draft of the HPE Shape Paper, affords Tonia a depth and breadth of contemporary expertise in the National Curriculum renewal process.

Dr Carol Birrell

Carol is an artist, writer and academic exploring the interaction between an Indigenous and Western sense of place. She is currently teaching Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney and before this was teaching Aboriginal Education at Wollongong University. Her earth-based arts practice for the last 12 years, called ‘ecopoiesis’, draws together movement, painting, photography, environmental sculpture and poetry, along with Indigenous understandings as a base for ecological writing and exploring ecological identity. Carol has strong long-term collaborative relationships with several Australian Aboriginal communities: Yuin (south coast NSW) and Worrorra (west Kimberley). At present, she is writing a book on the life and teachings of distinguished Yuin Senior Lawman and Elder Max Dulumunmun Harrison and developing research in the field of ecopedagogies.



1 Response to About

  1. David Wright says:

    Hullo Eco-pedagogues,

    I’d like to invite responses from visitors to the site to a series of questions I have been putting to other educators. These questions relate to practical involvement with ecological ways of thinking, among educators. (Also, please tell me if you are interested in discussing these questions further.)

    1. This question relates to a quote from biologist and anthropologist Gregory Bateson:

    “The pattern which connects: Why do schools teach almost nothing of the pattern which connects? … What’s wrong with them? What pattern connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose and all four of them to me? And me to you? And all six of us to the amoeba in one direction and to the back-ward schizophrenic in another?” (Bateson 1979:8).

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on this quote, in relation to your work as an educator.

    2. Could you expand upon this, perhaps through a story about or a description of something that you have done as an educator?

    3. Could you tell to me me about your experience at your work site. In your mind, are the ideas contained in the quote relevant to priorities and practices here?

    4. Could you talk to me about your education work site and how it positions itself in the field of contemporary education? What sort of language does it use to identify itself? Why does it use that language? Where has that language come from? Is there other language that you think could be used?

    5. How do you understand the ‘ecology’ (or social ecology) of this site?

    6. Could you tell me a story about something that has been done at this site, by yourself or others, that exemplifies how this site understands itself?

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