Environmental education and the Cheetah Conservation Fund : exploring children's value-based relationships with cheetahs / by Courtney Hughes.
Hughes, Courtney Katrine
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For this thesis I collaborated with the Namibian Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to research how farming children perceive and experience cheetahs. I also explored how CCF’s educational documents might affect the ways children (re)construct their value-based relationships with cheetahs. The first part of my study used storytelling as a research methodology. Children were asked to create drawn, written, and verbal stories as a way to explain how they perceive, experience, and (re)construct their value-based relationships with cheetahs, following their experiences with CCF’s cheetah run and prior to their experiences with CCF’s formal education program. Children’s stories were grouped into common or similar elements or patterns as meanings emerged through analysis and interpretations. My analysis found that children (re)construct valuations of cheetahs through their lived experiences with CCF, family, and school instruction. For the second part of my study, my examination of CCF’s educational documents, I referred to Elliot Eisner’s (1979) concept of the three curricula to learn how CCF portrays human-cheetah relationships in a farming context. I also used this concept to explore how CCF’s portrayal might affect the ways children (re)construct their valuations of cheetahs. My examination revealed that CCF’s documents are value-laden, conveying their opinions on, and valuations for, cheetahs as well as other Namibian animals. I also learned that both explicit statements and implicit messages, conveyed through educational documents, can effect how children (re)construct their value-based relationships with cheetahs, and quite possibly, with the natural world in its completeness.