A critical ecological ontology for educational inquiry

Year: 1994

Author: Payne, Phillip

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Ten interrelated questions are formulated to guide inquiry and evaluation in "issues-based" curriculum such as environmental education. The presentation will emphasise how the questions constitute one approach to curriculum inquiry. How mediation of different discourses in environmental education might result for practitioners will be exemplified briefly.

The questions specify how individuals' bodies provide sites for learning about historical, social and cultural life, hence their relevance to most other "issues"-related curricula such as health, multicultural, and social education. Because the questions probe the temporal, spatial, and symbolic effects of "cultural embodiment" a wide range of learning interests are catered for.

The questions are derived substantively from Fay's metatheory of the critical social sciences and Giddens' theory of structuration, and procedurally from Dewey's theory of inquiry. At a conceptual level the questions and their derivation provide one curriculum avenue to explore uncertainties emerging from the dissonance of postmodern, feminist, and modern thinking.

The paper will outline the different, albeit dualistic, discourses in environmental education. It will describe briefly the relevant features of the selected metatheories in view of how mediation, not reconciliation, of dualistic thinking might proceed conceptually and practically in educational inquiry. Finally, the paper will signal some avenues from which educational inquirers might respond to various ambiguities surrounding the current ethical-political turmoil in social theory.