ABSTRACT

It was argued in Chapter 1 that environmental education, if honestly conducted, is inherently political. Involving children in action research is even more obviously so. Learning to deal with the political system within which one lives should of course be a basic component of all school programmes, but it is not. This is another major reason why children's community participation programmes are so valuable. The nature and extent to which one can involve children in political actions will vary enormously depending on the culture and political system. In the USA, for example, public awareness and political action seem to have become the most common types of environmental action by children.1 Whatever the culture, children's involvement in political action should grow out of their own developing understanding of a phenomenon. At the current time, children in the USA have become noisy proponents of many policy positions on the environment, often with information which has not been critically digested by them and rarely with any direct experience with the subject. Not surprisingly, conservative politicians sometimes suspect liberal politics and media of manipulating children. Thus, there is a great danger in the USA that the genuine democratic nature of children's participation will come to be seen by the public as manipulative, or at best superficial, rather than the very essence of democratization and preparation for citizenship, as proposed in this book.