Terralingua Langscape Volume 3
Exploring Biocultural Approaches to Education
With Guest Editor: Yvonne Vizina
Summer 2014

 

 

 

 There was a time with no schools—a time when nature and community were our teachers, and they taught us everything we needed to know in order to live respectfully and care for one another and for the land.

We have come a long way from that. With the rise and spread of formal learning institutions, over time our concepts of “knowledge” and “education” have become less and less associated with everyday-life, hands-on, holistic experience and more and more with academic study and research—the body of systematic thought and inquiry that we call “science”.

Science and its countless applications have permeated all realms of human life. But, enclosed inside the walls of our learning institutions, compartmentalized within the silos of different, specialized disciplines, we have become insular and disconnected. We have lost sight of ourselves as a part of—not separate from and dominant over—the natural world, and as inextricably linked with all other peoples and all other species on earth in a global web of interdependence: the web of life in nature and culture that is now known as “biocultural diversity”. Because of this, we think of the environment as subordinate to the economy, rather than the other way around. And we fail to see—or choose not to see—how our activities can and do undermine the health of the planet that sustains us and the rest of life.

If we want a viable future for humanity, all that needs to change. And a key to achieving that change is transforming our approach to education. To reach a higher level of understanding, we need to rebuild integrative knowledge—knowledge that transcends disciplines, formal modes of learning, and separations between science and traditional knowledge, between science and art, between the intellectual and the emotional, sensory, and spiritual aspects of life. Looking back to go forward, we need to recover the essence of what learning was in the time before schools, and to infuse that essence into learning for the 21st century.

That is what we hope will emerge from exploring biocultural approaches to education. In this issue of Langscape, we take the first steps in that direction. Enjoy the readings, and if they inspire you, let us hear from you! It will take all our perspectives and all our voices to forge this new path.

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