Theory of Ecological Literacy

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In the article “Ecological Literacy: Education and the Transition to a Postmodern World,” David Orr (1992) presents his argument about the lack of emphasis on ecological literacy by our education system and how this discrepancy can be bad for society as a whole. Orr (1992) precedes his argument with an explanation of ecological literacy, and its importance in the lives of all people. He claims that just as regular literacy and mathematical skills are vital to everyday life, so is ecological literacy, the only difference being that ecological literacy is virtually untaught in our society. Orr’s (1992) central theory is based upon his belief that, “by failing to include ecological perspectives in any number of subjects, students are taught that ecology is unimportant for history, politics, economics, and society” (Orr, 1992, p. 300). This deficiency in the understanding of ecological literacy creates a problem for everyone on Earth, since future generations will be unable to maintain the world as a sustainable place to live. Orr (1992) gives many reasons to this discrepancy in subjects being taught, and while some seem a bit stretched and incongruous, all are valid points that can be verified by my own personal experiences. Attempting to live on earth without a solid understanding of ecological literacy is comparable to “trying to balance a checkbook without knowing arithmetic” (Orr, 1992, p.300).

Orr (1992) begins his argument with an attempt to explain his theory why ecological literacy is so difficult to successfully integrate into modern education. He claims that modern attitudes, by their very nature, work against the concept of ecological literacy. Children are taught through television “that the earth is theirs for the taking” (Orr, 1992, p. 300). I agree with Orr (1992) in that modern faith in technology has reached the point where people believe that scientists will devise some plan to stop global warming and create new wells of energy to fuel their...
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