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France - An Environmental-Education project by the association "PROSPER" and the University Institute for Teacher Training at Cergy

2004, by Claudie BONNET

An Environmental Education (EE) project intended for educational institutions was set up in September 1993, in the French department (equivalent of a county) Val d’Oise.

A multi-disciplinary team made up of teachers (from primary and secondary school, as well as the IUFM - Institut universitaire de formation des maîtres, University Institute for Teacher Training), a laboratory technician, research staff and members of not-for-profit organizations offers teachers assistance in the implementation of EE projects. The project is backed by the Fondation de France, DIREN (Direction Régionale de l’Ile de France en Environnement — Regional Environment Services for the Ile de France department), ADEME (Agence de l’Environnement de la Maîtrise des Déchets et de l’Energie — Environment Agency for Waste and Energy Management), CRAC (Cellule rectorale d’action culturelle, Rectorial Cultural Action Department), and the Nature et Découvertes foundation.

The general objectives are organized around four essential points:
- raising awareness on the growing environmental impact on our country’s social organization;
- developing the citizen’s individual qualities;
- encouraging among children responsible behavior based on a sense of solidarity;
- approaching problems in a cross-disciplinary perspective.

The basic idea is to help teachers carry out EE projects :
- by collecting material published in France and abroad;
- by forging teaching tools;
- by promoting exchanges (department-wide gatherings, correspondence, etc.).

Teaching tools are being developed, consisting in a 20-minute film, activity cards, role-playing games, photos, a teacher’s booklet with information on what is known, a bibliography, etc. (There is an agreement with the Val d’Oise, Cergy-95 Research Library.)

A film is being jointly produced by the IUFM and the CDDP (Centre de Documentation Pédagogique du Val d’Oise — Val d’Oise Educational Research Library) in a Cycle 3 class (10-11 years old). The script is being written with the help of a film director, Claude Confortès. The film aims primarily at developing qualities such as autonomy, responsibility-taking and cooperation with regard to the environment through project-oriented teaching methods; the children, through their student councils, are part of the decision process that determines the activity:
- a field trip to a factory or a waste-processing plant, an interview of a scientist, etc.
- publishing a newspaper, writing a letter to the town hall for paper collection, producing a poster to raise the awareness of the whole school population, etc.

Cross-disciplinary teaching cards on the subject of waste are experimented in the classroom. Each card indicates the main objective — for instance, reducing packaging and wrapper waste at Christmas ("Christmas is no treat for the environment") — activity ideas and lines of thought in waste reduction.

- A set of role-playing games ("Operation Clean School", "Should Paper Be Recycled?" "Tap Water or Bottled Water?") featuring ethical dilemmas; they are intended to make it easier to understand the complexity of an EE issue, to build arguments, to learn decision-making.
- A set of photos of environment-friendly or -unfriendly gestures (a banana peel being thrown into the water, paper being deposited in the proper container, etc.) also help to develop thinking about values and explaining them.

A variety of projects have been launched in several schools, some of which were present at an operation called "A thousand challenges for my planet" jointly organized by the Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Environment, and Youth and Sports.

OCCE (Organisation de Classes Coopératives à l’Ecole — Organization of Cooperative Classes at School) and Prosper organized a department-wide event in June 1994 in the town of Cergy-Pontoise, in which the children displayed their production.
School projects are followed up with an assessment of actions and behavior.

KEY WORDS: Environmental Education, School; Higher Education; Project Method; Educational Resources; Values.
AUTHOR: Claudie Bonnet, Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres de Cergy, BP 308, 95027 Cergy-Pontoise, France, Tel.: 33 / 1 / 48 29 05 37