Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"
 

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Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
Earthcare for Children: A First Day School Curriculum

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   The curriculum contains 13 chapters for "teaching first day school as a growth experience."
Long Description:   Some of the chapters include: Awe & Wonder, Earth Is Our Home, Earth Is Alive, Nurturing the Helpless, Interrelatedness, and many others. Each chapter contains meditations, songs, readings, discussions, hands-on activities, and much more.

The book also contains a resource section for songs, other books, and non-book references.

Reviewed by:   Teri Pigeau, a pastor from Ontario, Canada

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Sandra Moon Farley, Diana Gail Elgy and Thomas Baxter Farley; a publication of the Friends Committee on Unity with Nature
Publisher:   Quaker Earthcare Witness
Publication date:   1998, revised 2007 Website for this resource:   www.spont.com/earthcare.htm
We know of 2 sources for purchasing this resource.
Source #1:  
Address Quaker Books of FGC
1216 Arch St, Suite 2B
Philadelphia, PA   19107  
Phone 800-966-4556   215-561-1700 Fax  
Website www.quakerbooks.org E-mail bookstore@fgcquaker.org  
Price $19.95  Order #  
Source #2:  
Address Quaker Earthcare Witness
(Friends Committee on Unity with Nature)
173-B N. Prospect St.
Burlington, VT   15401-1607  
Phone 802-658-0308   Fax  
Website www.quakerearthcare.org E-mail info@quakerearthcare.org  
Price $15.00  Order #  

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels  Preschool     Primary     Jr. High    Sr. High    Adult
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size Depends on the available teachers. It would need to be divided up into different ages of supervision for most of the activities. 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 44 class sessions each lasting about 40 minutes
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? My only suggestion for economizing on time is to edit the sessions that will be offered and in my instance, adapt given my particular denominational perspective on issues that need to be expanded upon and discussions about living in a diverse community.  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 it is not reasonable to plan for a single, self-contained class session from these materials.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? The reviewer did not describe any homework  
Target audience:
 Interfaith - addressed people of many faiths
 Judeo-Christian - addressed to Jews & Christians
 Christian - addressed explicitly to Christians
 Not explicity faith-based - not much religious content
Note: The reviewer says that this curriculum is especially appropriate for members of the denomination or agency that developed it (Society of Friends (Quaker)). For example, it may explore a denominational policy statement. The reviewer also believes that it is possible for groups outside that tradition to make good use these materials.

Materials provided
Materials include:
 Leader's guide
 Student book
 Discussion questions
 Class activities - arts & crafts
 Class activities - group participation 
 Video
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources
 

Other supportive materials provided: Bibliography
Other materials required:none specified
Description of the Leader's Guide:Laid out in an accessible way
Description of the Student's Book:The manual is leader driven in its arrangement. Some of the materials to be photocopied or cut out appear in the leader’s text and will take extra work of cutting and enlarging for presentation. The materials are comprehensive and provide some potential for variation. Much will needed to be done by the leader to make many of the activities accessible to the student, from a budgetary standpoint.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Minimal - the gist is present, but the leader will need to work at organizing or completing it  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? The reviewer did not provide a response  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
Much time will be needed for functional prep time 

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as a primary focus  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? There is some discussion about habitat loss and some about resource use.  
How is the scope of the environmental impact positioned?  Impact on specific human communities
 Impact on humans in general
 Impact on humans and non-human parts of creation
 Impact on non-human parts of creation only  
Does the curriculum address questions of social or economic justice in relation to environmental issues? No  
Does the curriculum provide detailed content in a particular academic area?   For example, is there significant content in biology, physics, sociology, economics, etc.?
Biblical & theological content are covered below
No  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? Yes, but very minimally presented  
How are the Biblical materials used? Individual texts are presented as meaningful ('proof texts')
Several texts are developed to show a larger biblical theme
Texts are placed in a historical or cultural context
Texts are presented as authoritative
Students are invited to comment/reflect on the meaning or authority of texts
Biblical texts are of equal importance to other scriptures/readings  
The checked statements reflect how ethical guidelines are grounded The Bible tells us how we should live/act
A theological tradition or other authority tells us how we should live/act
We should make decisions about how to live/act based on defined ethical norms
Caring for creation is an assumed norm  
The curriculum views humanity's role in creation as:
The checked lines are clearly affirmed
Domination - God created the Earth for human use; there are no real restrictions on what we can or should do.
Stewardship - "The Earth is the Lord's"" and humans are in a position of managing the creation according to God's will.
Partner - Humans are part of the web of creation, and participate in it as one species among many.
Intruder - Humans are separate from nature, and inherently destructive.
In evaluating changes to "solve" environmental problems, does the curriculum tend toward an approach that is: Confessional - I/we need to change
Confrontational - Some other person, policy or institutions needs to change
Combination - a mix of confessional and confrontational

Content approach
Which of these are a primary target outcome of the curriculum?  Increase awareness or concern about the environment in general
 Increase awareness of concern about a specific environmental issue
 Acquiring factual knowledge about an issue
 Changing or deepening personal beliefs
 Change in self-awareness or self-identity
 Changes in personal behaviors or lifestyle choices
 Influence on institutional (church or other) practices
 Increased political advocacy
 No change, or goal not clear
Other:  Development of gender identity to a specific norm
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

Subjective Reviewer Feedback
In general, would you use this program with your congregation/organization? Why or why not?
I would use it, but with adaptations. It covers a great deal and offers much for students of different age groups. I am particularly impressed with the way in which it walks the children through understanding the way in which nature works; for example planting seeds and tending. It also teaches the children that we are to be concerned and responsible for the way in which we use the earth.

I would adapt the material’s language to recognize that God consists of both male and female properties. See page 9; opening song. The image of mother earth and father God here are dichotomous…I would hope to engender the idea of mother/father God where Earth is part of the larger creation that we belong to. Thus, my adaptations would reflect that in attempt to avoid the development of dualistic understanding that tends towards dichotomies; for example men over women, humanity over nature and so on. My hope would be to foster a more egalitarian relationship between people and nature. We consist of both matter and spirit and we are dependent upon the Earth, not vice versa.

The liturgical music would be adapted from our own resources, so as to help integrate the children with our worship, as we intend for them to join us frequently.

There are some references that are culturally specific to the United States that we would need to adapt to our own culture for the children to appreciate the lesson; take for example, references to Johnny Appleseed.

What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
LIKES: Above, I stated that I would adapt. I perceive that others may adapt for theological and ideological reasons as well, depending on the nature of their communities. Another adaptation that may be necessary is presentation in different climate zones of the world. This discussion is missing and could be a very good stepping off point for discussions about eco-diversity and human diversity. How do children who live near the Equator experience winter? What concerns do different climate zones raise for their inhabitants? What varieties of lifeways and culture develop as a result?

I like very much the resource section at the back. For teachers it is a helpful jumping off point for expanding in various areas.

Additionally, I think that the teacher evaluation is quite a useful tool and will help in developing new teachers and shaping the program.

I would suggest the use of three-ring binder for ease of use of the manual.

What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
If the intention is to use this primer broadly, I wondered about having broader consultation in its development.
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
I am concerned about the lack of integration of Jesus, either about his life or parables etcetera. I am not certain about the expectations for spiritual development in the community that created this work, but in many communities, Sunday School is about the initial development of the child’s understanding about their relationship with God through Christ. Many denominations would see this as a deficit in these materials. I would have to consider this in presenting it to my community and would have to adapt to accommodate it.
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
I would be concerned also about the resources the Sunday school would need to have to supply the children with what is required for the activities in this text. Many churches and Sunday schools do not have the resources or funding for it. Some situations may not allow some of the activities as well; due to lack of time allowed for Sunday School. Some denominations services run longer than others and a problem in operating Sunday School curriculums has been to integrate the activities into the time frame.
Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?
No


Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   Home Page: www.eco-justice.org
Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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