Exploring the outside within : a narrative study of identity and teachers' experiences learning to be naturalists
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To explore relationships between time in nature, identity, and environmental teaching, this project gathered interviews from K-12 teachers who had taken part in a natural history field course, the California Naturalist Program. Using a narrative methodology, participants' experiences were interpreted with respect to identity and related to their individual teaching perspectives. Their narratives suggest that what participants found most meaningful in their naturalist experiences were often reflections of pre-existing subjectivities, although stories also showed evidence of ongoing identity construction and affirmation. Choosing to teach with the environment appeared to reflect established environmental subject positions in particular. Overall, the greatest meaning participants found seemed more about who they are and want to become than anything intrinsic to the naturalist practices themselves. Environmental teacher trainings may benefit by recognizing the complex role of identity in teaching, encouraging reflection on ecological subject position, and acknowledging the gradual and continual nature of identity negotiation.
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