Going Outside to Create Tomorrow's Engaged Citizen

Todd McIntosh

I’ve also seen students who struggle academically excel in activities like “Web of Life” because it focuses on  different kinds of intelligences than classroom learning does. This kind of active learning has a long-lasting impact. It always amazes me when visiting graduates remember in-depth moments from the three-days they spent at Sheldon.

It is exciting to know that many of my students will experience, for the first time, what I experienced as a young boy – the wonders and beauty of a rural setting. When I look up into a night sky with my students and see the stars or hear the call of an owl it’s as if I’ve stepped back into my childhood. I feel as if I’ve taken them back to my childhood home.

In a recent interview Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gordon Miller asked: “How can we transform our economy and society so that we can respond to the environmental challenges that are facing us if we raise a generation of ecologically illiterate children?”6 It’s something we all need to think about. Teachers can make a difference by understanding the values of environmental literacy. An “outdoor” education can help create a better-informed and more engaged citizen.



1.   Colombo, John Robert, ed.  Canadian Global Almanac, Toronto: Macmillan  Canada, 1998.

2.   Suzuki, David. “Reality TV the closest some children get to reality.”  Science Matters, July 28, 2006. Available at  davidsuzuki.org

3.    The original research can be found in Pergams, Oliver R.W.,  and Patricia A. Zaradic. “Is love of nature in the US becoming love of electronic media?”  Journal of Environmenta Management 80.4 (2006), 387-93

4.    Quoted in Suzuki, “Reality TV.”

5.     Toronto Star, October 10, 2006.

6.     Toronto Star, October 10, 2006.

Environment Curriculum Resources – yours for the asking

The Toronto District School Board’s EcoSchools program has extensive curriculum materials available on its website:  ecoschools.tdsb.on.ca

  • GRASP: A tool for developing ecological li teracy through rich performance tasks
  • Conservation of Energy: Inquiry Activities for  Kids ( Teachers Resource)
  • The 


Farah Wadia and students standing in river.

“A water what?” was the response I’d get whenever I introduced my grade 8 students to the concept of a watershed.

General Secretary Sharon O’Halloran

Our commitment to equity and the environment means that we must elect a government in Ontario that takes justice and fairness seriously.