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Title: Environmental attitudes of homeschoolers in Canada
Authors: McMillan, Emily Elizabeth
Keywords: Canadian homeschoolers;New Ecological Paradigm Scale;Connectedness to Nature Scale;homeschooling
Issue Date: 31-Jul-2013
Publisher: Laurentian University of Sudbury
Abstract: Environmental attitudes are shaped by a variety of factors including our educational history, cultural background, childhood and life experiences, and past and current interactions with nature. This research set out to examine attitudes toward the environment in an understudied but growing segment of the Canadian population, homeschoolers. The purposes of this study were to investigate whether environmental attitudes in Canadian homeschoolers differ from those of people involved with public school and to acquire a greater understanding of the factors that affect the development of these attitudes. The mixed method, follow-up explanatory research design utilized the New Ecological Paradigm Scale and the Connectedness to Nature Scale in an internet survey. The survey was sent to homeschooling and parent groups across Canada. Subsequently, interviews were conducted with a subsample of respondents. The results of the survey showed that demographic variables were not significantly related to environmental attitude scores with the exception of locale and religion. Urban respondents had slightly stronger environmental attitudes than rural respondents. The confluence of homeschooling and religiosity emerged as the key factor influencing environmental attitudes. There was no significant difference between environmental attitudes of homeschoolers and public schoolers until importance of religion was taken into account. As measured by the scales, religious homeschoolers exhibited the weakest environmental attitudes, public schoolers were in the middle, and not-as-religious homeschoolers had the strongest environmental attitudes. The qualitative data supported these results, with religious homeschoolers expressing weaker iv environmental attitudes, particularly in terms of climate change and the need for a more sustainable lifestyle. Religious homeschooling respondents favoured a more structured back to basics style of schooling which also correlated with lower environmental attitude scores. Unstructured homeschooling respondents tended to choose a child-centred philosophy of education which was correlated with stronger environmental attitudes. During the interviews, respondents were asked to reflect on what in their lives had influenced their attitudes toward the environment. Consistent with other literature, unstructured outdoor time as a child remained the most significant factor, cited by a majority of respondents. Other important factors included religion, parents, school, teachers, TV/media, economic necessity, and negative experiences with environmental pollution. The results of this study highlight the importance of considering variables associated with religion when exploring the development or level of environmental attitudes or when conducting a study of homeschooling. Religious beliefs are complex and highly personal in some cases, as is their corresponding influence on environmental concern. Potential exists for environmental concern and action from a group of spiritual people with strong community bonds and often political involvement. The key may be finding common ground and learning to communicate, while resisting expectations of complete agreement. This dissertation showed that stepping outside of the educational system does not necessarily have a direct impact on environmental attitudes, as they are mediated by a complex array of variables. Homeschooling may not directly generate a different level of environmental attitudes than public school; however, religious v homeschoolers definitely have a different set of attitudes toward the environment that deserve further in-depth study.
Appears in Collections:Doctoral Theses
Human Studies and Interdisiplinarity - Doctoral Theses

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