Wednesday, December 31, 2008


As the awareness of the global warming, the energy depletion, the gradual destruction of our natural world such as the air condition, the almost extinction of many species, etc., is rising, people of the world need to go beyond curing what has been damaged. Besides curing, we also need to effectively prevent further damage. Discovery Channel, CNN, many independent authors, and many more people have reported that the degradation of our natural world is intensifying. Yet we all know that despite the effort to open the mind of the people, most of us find it hard to simply believe their testimony, how much more changing our habits. Isn’t it always difficult to depart from our comfort zone? For example, for those who have the habit of smoking, to quit might mean stop breathing. How do you ask people to stop breathing? Now, how about those who do horrible things because they are poor? For example, those who cut down trees and sell the logs just because they need to feed their families. Of course there are some who do horrible things simply for money or power, such as the massive killing of sharks just for the sake of the fins, or the brutal hunting of elephants just to snap their tusks to sell them for the expense of war. There is this question: how do we stop all the degradation of our natural world? Just like what Al Gore said: “We have to do something about it.”

As an educator, I’m thinking of how education can contribute to effectively preventing further damage. Perhaps it is time to put in our curriculum foundation the love, care, and good way of governing our nature. The next generation needs to be taught, educated, and accustomed with loving, caring, and governing our world accordingly. The basis for doing such thing goes back to Genesis 1, where lies the basic responsibility and the purpose of our creation as humans. Wolterstorff talks about the role of education to educate people for responsible action, and what I’m proposing in this short article is the concrete responsible actions among so many responsible actions we can name. To love, care, and govern our world accordingly is our responsible action in relation to nature, although of course the impact goes beyond preserving our natural world. Upon doing so, we are obeying God, doing good to humankind, and at the same time preserving nature.

As an educator, I always remember that teaching is not telling, for when we tell our students it doesn’t entail our students doing what they are told or understand what was in the telling, how much more if we speak of the internalization process. All educators want their students’ motivation to come out from within and not from outside pressures. Telling is one method, but its effectiveness is limited. One of the most powerful methods is modeling. Modeling is very powerful because children (and also adults) learn so well through imitation. Imitation often comes first before any innovation takes place. The problem is, modeling is millions times more difficult than telling. Why is this a problem? -- Because our sinful human nature always pulls us to make a shortcut and hinders us from taking the extra miles. Because of this, then, we must be aware of designing a curriculum that will accommodate modeling.

Now, if our goal is green life, then green education curriculum is required. This includes the green model of life to be exercised throughout the curriculum, which means not only the content of the explicit curriculum is required to be green, but also the hidden curriculum communicated must be carefully crafted to be advocating green life. Concretely speaking, for example, we need to provide a school environment that supports green life or recruiting teachers and school administrators whose lifestyle is green.

We must do something, not only because our world is dying, but beyond that because God has commanded us to do the right thing since the beginning. Besides, we are built to love, care, and govern our natural world; in other words, it is our nature to do so. Don’t get me wrong, this mandate is not the entire thing, but obviously we need to work on this very thing because we have neglected it for so long. To take Horace Bushnell out of the context, we are being irresponsible if we just leave it to God to open the mind of the people of this mandate as written in Genesis 1, while we do nothing to educate our children of the right way of life, which in this case the green life. It is our duty, especially those who have come to understand the seriousness and the speed of the decaying of our world, to start working relentlessly to effectively prevent further damage. And I would say that it is our duty to do beyond preventing further damage, that is we are called to restore our world. Soli Deo Gloria!

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