Ecoliteracy in education has its origin in Fritjof Capra’s ongoing efforts (Capra, 1977) to foster ecological awareness through K-12 education. To aim to become “ecoliterate” means getting to understand the organisational principles of ecological communities and subsequently to be able to structure human communities in accord with the same principles, especially those regarding learning communities both within and without schools. As Capra explains, ecology derives from the Greek aikos that in the broadest sense means household and represents the field of study of the relationships connecting all members of the household understood in the context of whole human community. Questions of educational leadership and the particular nature of knowledge able to inform/develop ecoliteracy thus become crucial. This paper argues that ecoliteracy should become a household name for educational philosophy if the latter wants to expand the boundaries of formal schooling so as to be able to reach out into the world and move towards what is called “learning cities”. After critically examining Capra’s scholarship in ecology, I will discuss a contemporary European trend in “transdisciplinary education” (Nicolescu, 2005) and I argue that both are grounded in the cutting edge of contemporary science, namely systems thinking and the science of complementary pairs as based on relational dynamics (Kelso, 2006). The paper will also revisit the philosophical legacy of John Dewey. While Dewey’s philosophy indeed continues to inform the multilevelled discourse in the philosophy of education, my paper will explore the “untimely” dimension in his philosophy. The paper will conclude by making what Dewey would have called a “warranted assertion”: only when positioned in the ecological context and as supported by the most recent advances in science, many of Dewey’s insights become clear and especially significant for informing/training future leaders in education as “ecoliterate”.
Philosophy of Education Society of Australia 2008 Conference (PESA 2008). Proceedings of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australia 2008 Conference (Brisbane, Qld 5-7 December, 2008)