Environment as Integrating Context
for Learning

Using the environment as an integrating context for learning boosts academic achievement in reading and writing, math,
science and social studies.

Take a moment to think back to your own school days. What memories stand out? If you're like me, the highlights include field trips, guest speakers, group work, projects or lessons done outside in the schoolyard ... anything that connected you to others and to the natural and social community outside your school. These special events piqued our interest, increased our participation, and probably improved our learning. Why?

"The observed benefits of EIC programs are both broad-ranging and and encouraging. They include:

  • better performance on standardized measures on academic achievement in reading, writing, math, science and social studies;
  • reduced discipline and classroom management problems;
  • increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning; and,
  • greater pride and ownership in accomplishments."
— from Closing the Achievement Gap

The EIC Model™ is a system of educational practices based on extensive research, then developed and copyrighted by SEER, the State Education & Environment Roundtable — a cooperative endeavor of 16 American state departments of education.

Although I don't believe that effective educational strategies should be copyrighted and trademarked (see my webpage footer, below), SEER's document Closing the Achievement Gap is worth purchasing if you're trying to convince others of the value of environmental and sustainability education. (Since I've already purchased a copy, I think it's ethical to share that little bit of the executive summary with you, to entice you to visit their website.)

The EIC Model™ (using the Environment as an Integrating Context for improving student learning) "interconnects 'best practices' in education into an instructional tapestry that improves student achievement by using local natural and community surroundings as a context for learning."

"Environmental education is not a new concept. It has been in existence since the origin of humankind, as all human knowledge is derived out of interaction with nature and learning from nature."
— EcoIndia.com

Doesn't this just make good sense? If we helped our students learn about what surrounds them — the natural and human communities in which they live — there would be immediacy and relevance and heart and soul in what they're learning. How could any child fail "developing a sense of place" or "gaining a sense of belonging"? And with SEER's research on improved scholastic achievement, how could any parent or administrator be opposed to this for their children or students?

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