Childhood Experiences of Filipino Environmentalists: A Guide for Developing Environmental Sensitivity

April Lou P. Recuenco


The world has witnessed a period of unprecedented growth and development during the past decades and there is no indication that this sky-rocketing trend will come to a halt. In the Philippines, human activities have resulted in severe depletion of the finite natural resources, industrial pollution, and waste and toxic generation. Nowadays, severe climatic changes as a result of global warming are manifested by storms that have become gradually more vicious through the years. New vector-borne diseases have also emerged and species extinction has never been more widespread. These destructive phenomena have propelled environmentalists to promote environmental education (EE) through formal or conventional (traditional) learning approach.
According to Palmer (1998), formal programs in environmental education aloneare not effective in educating the people on how to save the planet and they can be considered a waste of time and efforts since they do not succeed in educating the public for sustainable living.
Some environmentalists then suggested the ‘informal’ approach to environmental education (Gigliotti, 1990; Palmer & Suggate, 1998; and Tamir, 1990). Within this informal model are factors such as (a) communication and information that result from living and interacting in a particular locality or community, (b) different forms of media, and (c) events in one’s life. The last factor, in particular, is what some researchers consider most influential and effective in teaching the concepts of environmental education (Phipps, 1998; Eagles & Demare, 1999).
It was observed that the majority of positive attitudes towards the environment are formed as a result of exposure to different events in life especially during childhood. As a matter of fact, some studies point out that when preschool children learn directly from life experiences in nature, they become sensitive to issues and ideas associated to the environment (Hsu & Roth, 1998; Bandura; 1986 and Cohen & Horm-Wingerd, 1993 as cited in Musser & Diamond, 1999). With these studies, Tanner and Handee (1996, cited in Palmer 1998) concluded that direct life experiences with nature during childhood can be a key factor in developing positive attitudes towards the environment.

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