It is time that ecoliteracy should be pulled on our plates as an essential part of our teaching. Instilling in students ecological intelligence should be part of the whole child approach, as we look at our students wellbeing and future. Research conducted by the State Education and Environment RoundTable A cooperative endeavor of sixteen state department of education in the US issued a report concluding that environment-based learning significantly improves students academic achievement and shows that the students could connect better to their learning when allowed to take a more active role in their studies.
Daniels Goleman's literary work on Emotional Intelligence, Ecoliteracy and Ecological Intelligence can be a guiding light that can help us cultivate social and emotional intelligence in students embedded in ecological intelligence. We embrace SEL on the promise that it will increase the likelihood of success in school and in life for our students and we have so far established that SEL delivers not just academic growth, but also improved attitude, positive behavior, and reduction in conduct problems. As Daniel Goleman suggests in his book, "we stretch this SEL foundation to integrate ecoliteracy so that we teach our students to simply expand outward in their focus from self, to others, to all living systems".
In two decades, the Centre for Ecolitracy has worked with schools to support education for sustainable living. It reports that when schools engage ecoliteracy with social-emotional learning, it advances both teachers and students achievement through hands-on conceptual learning in the natural world and community. “If we can cultivate the practices of socially and emotionally engaged ecoliteracy for our students, then we can profoundly increase their capacity to create and sustain healthier relationships with other people and the planet” - Daniel Goleman.
The question is, can we teach self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills along with ecological intelligence? Kindness, integrity, respect, and discipline are essential goals that we aspire to achieve through SEL. These goals can be taught through three key elements and can also nurture students to become ecoliterate. These strategies should be age-appropriate for students ranging from kindergarten through adulthood to integrate emotional, social, and ecological intelligence.
SEL Strategy 1: Feeling connected, safe, and welcomed is the most critical SEL strategy to improve student engagement. From the lens of ecoliteracy students can be taught the importance of our connection is to environment, to make every form of live feel safe and every being on Earth feel welcomed with the actions we take.
SEL Strategy 2: Teaching empathy to our students is another most important SEL lesson that brings engagement for students and wellbeing for all when practiced. From the perspective of teaching ecological intelligence, cultivating students empathy for all form of life expands their sense of compassion. When students learn to recognize that we are a part of the web of life, it makes them more inclusive and respectful. Social and emotional intelligence flourishes through understanding this interconnectedness.
SEL Strategy 3: The third most important SEL strategy that students should have is to connect the real world to what they are learning. Living sustainably shows children that the choices we make impact the environment, teaches them accountability for their actions, and helps them reflect every relationship they hold.
These three key SEL strategies can offer students a strong foundation to become emotionally intelligent and ecologically intelligent. We cannot leave teaching about environmental justice and ecoliteracy as a choice, but instead, there is a need to include it in our accountability system. Integrating SEL and environmental literacy will make our education system a whole system. This collective approach to wellbeing will give us engaged and well-rounded students and bring wellbeing to our communities and our world.