Free-choice environmental education: understanding where children learn outside of school

July 1st, 2005 | RESEARCH

Free-choice learning and, derivatively, free-choice environmental learning emerges as a powerful vehicle for supporting diversity in learning styles (Falk & Dierking, 2002). In this article, I argue that free-choice environmental learning holds great potential for enabling us to understand what is at stake in environmental learning and thus help us build a sustainable future. I examine the different informal learning contexts for children, home (family and play), museums, zoos, nature parks and wilderness, among many others, and offer an explanation for how learning occurs in these settings, and how such domains or sectors can contribute to free-choice environmental learning. This article also examines the nature of environmental learning in free choice settings to establish a connection with stages of childhood development. In the final section of this article, I draw on these examples to discuss research issues that emerge within various free-choice settings.


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Team Members

Anthony Kola-Olusanya, Author, University of Toronto


Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1080/13504620500081152
Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 1350-4622

Publication: Environmental Education Research
Volume: 11
Number: 3
Page(s): 297

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EBSCO Full Text


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Aquarium and Zoo Exhibits | Aquarium and Zoo Programs | Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Park | Outdoor | Garden Programs | Parks | Outdoor | Garden Exhibits | Public Programs