Ecological Identity and Ecological Literacy

creek-and-treesEarly learning teachers generally think of the term literacy as mainly associated with reading and writing. However, we can consider many other literacies that children can develop such as digital literacy, which connects to computers and mobile devices, and physical literacy that refers to body and movement. We ask early learning teachers now to include ecological literacy in their practice, which children develop when they have an ecological identity.


The first step towards creating sustainable communities is to understand the language of nature, the webs, cycles and flow (Capra, 2005). Through direct experience, children become aware that they are part of something larger and they feel a sense of place within the ecosystem. Eco-literacy refers to understanding that we exist in an ecosystem, in a landscape with a particular flora and fauna, in a particular social system and culture (Wooltorton, 2006). An ecologically literate person, according to Orr (2005) “would have at least a basic comprehension of ecology, human ecology and the concepts of sustainability, as well as the wherewithal to solve problems” (p. xi). Is this not what we want for our children?