Environmental Awareness and Its Relationship with the Concept of the Living Being: A Longitudinal Study
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Sustainability 10(7) : (2017) // Article ID 2358
There is currently a growing theoretical discussion about the foundations that underlie the development of environmental awareness and nature care in early childhood. The aim of this study is to analyze how the environmental concerns of young children emerge and evolve during early childhood and whether these concerns are connected to an understanding of the biological notion of the living being. This study is designed to address methodological limitations of previous studies through a longitudinal axis and an extensive age sample. A sample of 178 children between the ages of four and nine participated at two different testing times for a period of one year. The methodology includes the categorization of various images of living beings and inert entities in order to analyze their understanding of living organisms. Dilemmas involving environmental, moral and socio-conventional situations are presented to examine and compare how young children view transgressions against plant life. The results reveal that young children's judgments about environmental behaviors may arise before the development of an understanding of the concept of the living being. It is therefore proposed that this type of understanding does not support environmental awareness. Previous research indicates that complex biological concepts may be successfully introduced at the preschool age, provided that suitable educational interventions are designed for the initial stages of education. In this regard, there is evidence that a basic understanding of the issue of the ecological interactions among organisms may be achieved in the preschool years.