Shaping environmental values is considered one of the goals of environmental education. At the same time, this creates questions about the line between indoctrination and education. While values education has been widely discussed from various theoretical perspectives, few studies have analyzed how it is being practiced. This article investigates five outdoor environmental education programs and identifies the values the programs promote as well as the means they use to communicate these values to students. Additionally, the article examines the perspectives of 17 program leaders and center directors regarding the ways in which values should be promoted in environmental education and the approaches they use in their practice. According to the findings, all the observed programs applied a normative, value-laden approach, communicating mainly the values of universalism. The most frequently observed strategy was the inculcation of desirable values by moralizing and modeling. Simultaneously, some of the leaders' beliefs, while highlighting value-free or pluralistic approaches, contradicted their rather normative practice. This article describes the theory-practice gap identified and discusses the implications of the prevailing use of the normative approach in outdoor environmental education for the field. It calls for opening an in-depth debate on what, why, and how values belong in outdoor environmental education practice.
- Environmental education
- Outdoor programs
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law