Abstract: The ecological thinking requires particular awareness of being part of a much larger complex, the Ecosystem, which perhaps is a sentient being (or, if you like, a Great Unconscious): the need for good health of this complex is the first value. The words used to convey concepts are very important: the currently used language is strongly influenced by the dominant anthropocentric paradigm, which deals the environment as if it were something inanimate only useful to our species.
The Earth is not “our environment” or “our house”, but it is the body which we belong to: we are one of its tissues, we are like a type of integrated cells in a biological organism, and that entirely depend on its self-regulation ability of keeping in living conditions.
Some examples are explained in order to adapt the language used in school teaching (not ever conscious), to the above mentioned background: you can consider the relationships in an ecosystem as a forest, who continues to live as long as a steady-state situation is kept.
Thus, our world continues to say “man and nature” as two separate things, if not opposed. Today we know that man is Nature, is an animal species, he/she fully participates in the flow of mind-energy-matter of the Ecosystem, the Earth, or better yet, the whole Universe, since all the energy that flows through us, as in all other sentient beings, comes from the Sun.
The perception of being part of a much larger complex, the Ecosystem (or Earth) is very important: the first value is the good health of this Organism. Instead, the current background thought has expressions completely anthropocentric, mechanistic and reductionist. We must begin to convey to students the concepts using different terms.
In fact in the present substrate are in general present:
– The dualism that separates “mind” from “matter”;
– The physicalism of the metaphors we use to describe and explain mental phenomena: “power”, “tension”, “energy”, “social forces”, etc.;
– The idea that all phenomena, including mental ones, should be studied in quantitative terms.
I think a good proposal is rewriting the ideas transmitted to the students using a language compatible with the ideas of Deep Ecology, which leads to the end of economic growth and to the beginning of a transient economic degrowth to reach an acceptable situation. It would be interesting to re-write some good text on Physics and Natural Sciences using a new language to frame not-reductionist and non-mechanistic ideas (Bateson, Capra, Lorenz, Sheldrake, Prigogine, Jung, and others). The same for a text of Middle School in parts of Natural Sciences-Physics. You can easily explain all this to children, while using the appropriate language: maybe children are less contaminated by the background of current thinking. In essence, the concepts may seem almost the same, but framed in a non-anthropocentric, non-cartesian, non-dualist background.
Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.