How My Schooling Taught Me Contempt for the Earth

By Bill Bigelow

I grew up with the slogan “no deposit, no return.” It was emblematic of a throwaway culture premised on unlimited extraction, production, and consumption— a culture living, quite literally, as if there were no tomorrow. Thanks to the work of environmental movements, we now know that if we continue on our present course, there won’t be a tomorrow. According to Edwin O. Wilson, an expert on biodiversity, species are becoming extinct at the rate of 27,000 a year. In the next 30 years, 20% of the world’s species could become extinct. Half of the world’s deforestation throughout all of human history occurred between 1950 and 1990.1 Meanwhile, California’s Pacific Bell manufactures its phone books with paper from 500-year-old British Columbia rainforests — books that will be thrown away after a year.2

Recently, I’ve been questioning what I learned in school about the environment. I’ve concluded that although there was no explicit ecological curriculum, there was a profound hidden ecological curriculum that taught my classmates and me neglect and even contempt for the earth. Our teachers and the school’s culture constantly imparted harmful messages about our relationship to the earth, but in tacit, unacknowledged ways. This realization was something of an “aha.” I’d thought a lot about the hidden curriculum of race, class, and gender — and am still gaining new insights as I recognize the pervasiveness of white, middle-class, and male norms in schooling and in society. But I have only recently considered the numerous subterranean messages that school teaches about the earth.

In this article, I’ll draw on my own childhood and school experiences to analyze the hidden ecological curriculum. This is not a project to bash my elementary teachers. I never even heard the term “ecology” until my first year of college, 1969, when people were becoming more aware of environmental degradation; thus it would be disingenuous to shake a scolding finger at my late 1950s, early 1960s teachers. But what I’ve discovered in this backward glance is how much my own teaching, as well as the school cultures where I’ve taught, resembles my childhood education — even though I talk more about ecological problems than did my teachers. (I should acknowledge from the beginning that today more and more teachers address environmental issues in their classrooms; none of what follows is meant to slight those efforts.)


I grew up in Tiburon, California, a suburb of San Francisco that was still largely rural. When my family moved there in 1957 from Los Angeles (I was five), cows grazed about a hundred yards from our house. Richardson Bay was just down the hill, across the railroad tracks; its rocky beaches stretched in both directions. Our neighborhood of 60 or so houses nestled in grass-covered hills dotted with eucalyptus trees and huge rocks inhabited by blue-belly lizards, and horned toads. Each spring the hills would fill with brilliantly colored golden poppies and other wildflowers. Over the hill to the south were streams that ended in a dense wetlands of cattails, frogs, and alligator lizards.

I loved the land. I spent every afterschool moment, and every weekend or summer day, outside until it got dark. I knew where to dig the best underground forts and how to avoid the toffee-like clay soil. I knew the places where, on rare occasions, I might find a salamander. I knew from long observation at nearby ponds the exact process of a pollywog’s transition into a frog and the relative speed of different kinds of snakes: garter vs. gopher vs. western racer. I knew which were the best climbing rocks. I was an expert on the properties of mud and on the precise kind of grass required for the fastest cardboard sledding. My playmates and I dug forts in the hills, built tree houses, hiked, explored, caught every reptile we could find, played kick-the-can over great distances, and made rafts out of driftwood.

We named key landmarks: the Jungle, for a cavernous tangle of evergreen trees in a place that felt very special, but that we visited infrequently; the Trees, for a grove of huge eucalyptus where we often played; Naked Rock, a name passed down to us by an older group of kids who claimed to have once danced naked around the rock; Eagle Rock; and Lizard Rock.

We were surrounded by nature, but we were also surrounded by “development,” by the continual construction of houses, the encroachment of new neighborhoods and roads crisscrossing the hills. My childhood was filled with the natural world, but also with the seeming inevitability of the commercial appropriation of the natural world.

We had a love/hate relationship with “development.” Almost as another natural habitat, we played in the houses under construction: hide and seek, climbing and jumping off roofs, and rafting in basements when they flooded. But, inexorably, the builders seized and destroyed increasing amounts of our natural playground.

How did our schooling extend or suppress our naïve earth-knowledge and our love of place? Through silence about the earth and the native people of Tiburon, Bel-Aire School, perched on the slopes of a steep golden-grassed hill, taught plenty. We actively learned to not-think about the earth, about that place where we were. We could have been anywhere— or nowhere. Teachers made no effort to incorporate our vast, if immature, knowledge of the land into the curriculum. Whether it was in the study of history, writing, science, arithmetic, reading, or art, school erected a Berlin Wall between academics and the rest of our lives. Although our afternoons, weekends, and summers were spent outside, other than recess, school was an indoor affair, surrounded by metal, plastic, glass, brick and linoleum. The hills above the school were a virtual wilderness of grasslands and trees, but in six years I can’t recall a single “field trip” to the wide-open spaces right on our doorstep. We became inured to spending days in manufactured space, accustomed to watching more earth bulldozed and covered with yet more manufactured spaces.

My schooling suppressed any notion that I would spend my life outdoors. Implicitly, we were taught that the important work of society — which would be our work — occurs indoors, with books, and paper and pencils. The repetition of this indoor education taught us that the land beneath this structure was so much inert stuff— mere dirt on top of which happens real life. Outdoors is for play, for fun — but not for knowledge of self, culture, or the earth. Real knowledge was “Egypt,” arithmetic, report writing, the Civil War — even “Indians,” but in a “let’s name the tribes and make tee-pees” kind of way. School told us our earth-knowledge was play/recess/other/ trivia. Of course, there was a class component to this indoor education. By and large we were the children of young professionals. We were being groomed for white-collar office work, not to be farmers or construction workers.

Maybe this heavy indoor bias is beginning to erode. These days, all Portland Public Schools sixth graders spend a week at Outdoor School near Mt. Hood or another out-of-the-city site, learning about ecological issues — observing wildlife habitats, identifying plants, studying about how rivers and streams are formed.

Kids explore and learn stories about the wilderness. I’ve never met a student who didn’t cherish this one-week sojourn.

But even in this fine program there is a disturbing subtext: that in order to learn about the “outdoors,” the earth, one must travel away from the place where he or she lives. “Nature” is to be found in special places, well outside the city limits. The unintended message may be that urban areas are “conquered territory,” ecologically lost causes, and that the best we can hope for is an occasional escape to a pristine wilderness.


Cultural anthropologist Keith Basso draws on his years working with the Western Apache when he writes that for Native peoples, “the landscape remains not merely a physical presence but an omnipresent moral force…”3 As one Western Apache elder told him: “Learn the names. Learn the names of all these places… White men need paper maps… We have maps in our minds.”4 But the Apache elder wasn’t speaking only literally, he was also speaking metaphorically. Because every place has a name and every name has stories attached to it, the Apache “map” is both physical and moral. The land speaks to these people through stories passed down over thousands of years; they live on the land and the land lives in them. If we listen to Native elders from Alaska to Guatemala, we’ll hear descriptions of a similar earth consciousness. By contrast, my schooling never once suggested the centrality of the place where we were, the potential of the land to speak to us, to represent a moral force. [See Joseph Bruchac and Michael J. Caduto, Keepers of the Earth (Fulcrum), for some wonderful Native American stories that reveal an ecological sensibility.]

We learned about “Indians” in elementary school, but not about the Indians who inhabited the land now parceled into neighborhoods with names like Little Reed Heights and Belveron Gardens. I had no way of knowing that First Nations peoples might have had different names and stories for the places where I played and that much could be learned from these stories about potential relationships between people and the land. Nor were we asked to reflect on the place Bel-Aire School occupied: Who owned this space where we were sitting? How did they come to control it? Who was here first? Why aren’t those people here anymore? How did these other people teach their young? The unsettling contradiction we would have had to confront, had these questions been raised, is that we were on the land we so loved only because it had been twice stolen from the people who were here before: first by the Spaniards from the native Miwok people, and then by the United States from the Spaniards (by then, Mexicans).

Not encouraged to reflect on the character of the land, we came to accept its degradation as “development” and “progress.” Developers filled in the wetlands to build a new neighborhood and a junior high school. We weren’t asked whether we agreed with this development; in fact, we weren’t asked to consider it at all. Indeed, moments ago, I wrote here, “We watched helplessly as streams were buried, and the hills invaded by construction crews.” But in truth, we didn’t watch helplessly, we watched unconsciously. It never occurred to me to question the environmental justice of these actions. We may or may not have learned how to diagram a sentence, but we did learn to not-question.

Resistance was not in our conceptual vocabulary. When they tore up the beach to build a four-lane highway just a couple of hundred yards from our house, no one protested. The kids in the neighborhood loved that beach, but the adults seemed to treat the land as empty space waiting to be done-to, to be consumed. I’m not saying that school created these notions of progress, but in numerous ways it legitimated them. (Ten years or so after demolishing about a mile of rugged beach, the powers-that-be changed their minds and decided not to continue the highway. With great fanfare, part of the bay front land was turned into a soccer field.) Ironically, one of my favorite pastimes when I was young was to imagine that the Russians had invaded and my friends and I were guerrilla soldiers defending our homeland. In real life, the Russians never arrived, but the bulldozers and dump trucks owned by U.S. corporations did. School had taught us to look for enemies in all the wrong places.

In school, we were never taught to think ecologically — to consider the interdependence of air, soil, water, plants, trees, animals, and humans. Lacking an ecological sensibility, we might have regretted the loss of wetlands and forested areas to “development,” but we couldn’t critique this destruction in terms of the loss of the region’s biodiversity. We were ecologically illiterate. Numerous species of plants and animals were wiped out on the Tiburon peninsula, but schooling offered us no conceptual framework to mourn the enormous loss.

This hidden ecological curriculum is politically useful for powerful interests in our society. Writer Wendell Berry notes that social elites “cannot take any place seriously because they must be ready at any moment, by the terms of power and wealth in the modern world, to destroy any place.”5 Popular acceptance, if not support, for this destruction needs to be taught; and my schooling did its part.

The hidden ecological curriculum at Bel-Aire School encouraged students to not-think about the earth, to not question the system of commodification that turns the world, including the land, into things to be bought and sold. These are not merely curricular omissions, but active processes of moral anesthesia. Poet Adrienne Rich writes in a penetrating line that “lying is done with words, and also with silence.”6 When the curriculum is silent about aspects of life — racism, sexism, global inequality, or the degradation of the earth — that silence normalizes these patterns, implicitly telling kids, “Hey, nothing to worry about; that’s just the way things are, the way they ought to be.” And that’s the lie.


We learned contempt for the earth not just in the how of schooling, but also in the what of schooling; harmful ecological messages were woven into the fabric of the curriculum. I recall social studies in first through sixth grades as one long celebration of the brave Europeans who carried civilization to the Americas. One year, my teacher assigned us different explorers to study and report on. We mapped their travels throughout the “New World” — new to whom? — and hung these around the room, commemorating the spread of European outposts in the wilderness.

We did study “Indians” in third and fourth grades, but in ways that reinforced a primitive-to-advanced continuum. Almost 40 years later, this approach seems not to have changed much. Those indigenous societies most “like us” — with complex divisions of labor and networks of trade, powerful militaries, influential (i.e., imperialistic) states, and accumulations of great wealth — were designated “civilizations” — the Aztec and Inca, for example — and were dealt with in some depth. Other American Indian cultures dotted the primitive-to-advanced continuum at lesser points, and were discussed much more superficially. Highlighting “advanced” societies dismissed the wisdom of those cultures which lived in ecological balance for countless generations. If these latter were designated “primitive,” then we might study them as quaint artifacts, but not for what we could learn in order to reorient life today in our society. These curricular choices served to confirm that the society we lived in was the inevitable product of development — progress. Of course, as a nine or ten-year old, I wasn’t conscious of any of this. That’s what makes a hidden curriculum hidden. To be truly effective, propaganda needs to be invisible.

It may be helpful to revisit the Columbus myth to tease out the ecological messages that students absorb from these tales of “exploration” and “discovery.” In this myth we find all the significant components of what schools have traditionally taught about society and ecology. As we emphasized in Rethinking Columbus, the Discovery Myth is a metaphor for relations between groups of people, and is highly antidemocratic, dividing humanity into worthy and unworthy, decision-makers and order-takers. The “encounter” between flag-carrying white Christians and silent, red-skinned “heathens” — even today some children’s books use that term — tells children that it is good and natural for some people to dominate others, to assume control over the lands inhabited by supposed social inferiors.

Probing for the ecological hidden curriculum produces additional insights. The I-it relationship embodied in the Discovery Myth’s social relations is also manifest in the relationship between humanity and the earth. In virtually all the grade school stories I’ve read, Columbus plants a flag and takes possession of the land, suggesting to children that land is property, a thing to be owned and controlled by humans — indeed, that its possession is the first order of business and is required for all subsequent progress.

The presentation to children of the Columbus story as the birth of “our” civilization marginalizes other cultural patterns, most especially those of the Taíno people throughout the Caribbean islands. Not just a few, but millions of Taínos lived for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years in these islands in what today we would call an ecologically sustainable relationship with the land. How did these people do it? How did they frame their relationship to the earth and to each other? What myths and traditions carried this alternative worldview? It’s not “romanticizing Indians” to propose that students may learn something from being exposed to the cultural patterns of indigenous groups such as the Taínos. But children learn nothing of these stories in the traditional tale of Discovery. As indicated earlier, part of the hidden ecological curriculum lies in the questions not pursued, the curricular silences.

By 1493, on Hayti — the island that became Haiti and the Dominican Republic — Spaniards began cutting down entire forests to plant sugar cane. The assorted animals the Spaniards brought (sheep, goats, horses, chickens, cattle, pigs, etc.), when mentioned at all to children, are presented as further symbols of Columbus’s initiative and creativity, leading inexorably to today’s thing-rich society. In just a few years, the eight pigs Columbus brought with him in 1493 had multiplied to the extent that “all the mountains swarmed with them.”7 They ran amok, eating everything in sight — including the Taínos’ crops — and dramatically disrupting the ecological balance in Hayti. But when are young people asked to consider the ecological consequences of the human “progress” Europeans initiated? As with other features of the curriculum, the Discovery Myth promotes an active not-asking. One publisher searching for a market niche during the Columbus Quincentennial released an illustrated children’s book, All Pigs on Deck.8 In it, Columbus allows “a little man” to bring his pigs on the second voyage. Illustrations show delighted Indians petting and feeding the grinning pigs. With utter disregard for the ecological history of the Caribbean, the book concludes: “So at least one thing Columbus brought from the Old World was suitable for the New. Now, in America today, when we eat juicy sausages and pork chops, barbecued ribs and Virginia hams, we can thank that little man and, of course, Christopher Columbus!”


The most important aspects of any hidden curriculum are the ones that we simply take for granted. This includes the myth of the individual existing as an independent agent in the world. In C. A. Bowers and David Flinders’ book Responsive Teaching, they ask teachers to consider “whether the culture is learned by students in a manner that leads them to view the ‘self’ as the basic unit of survival and progress or to recognize the interdependence of ‘self,’ culture, and the ecosystem.”9 This is a vital concern. For me, Bel-Aire School was both a symbol of, and preparation for, life in a society of essentially disconnected rational human beings seeking to “make it,” to maximize our material opportunities. Sure, we were taught to respect each other’s property, not to hit one another, to cooperate on the playground and in sports. But the structure of being grouped by individual “ability,” receiving individual grades, learning patterns of individual work as well as being exposed to a curriculum of “great men,” taught us that our basic mission was to look out for number one. As early as elementary school we were conditioned to maneuver through the institution making rational choices that would enhance our ultimate salability as labor commodities — “If you want to get a good job . . .” School officials didn’t distribute “Be Like Columbus” tee-shirts, but they might as well have. As in the Columbus myth, the hidden ecological curriculum of the school structure highlighted “self,” but failed to alert us to “the interdependence of ‘self,’ culture, and the ecosystem.” The myth of the individual taught us to think about ourselves and our families but to not-think about the earth — or about cultural patterns that might be more ecologically responsible.

This curricular cult of the individual insured that if and when students did become more aware of the ecological crisis they would think about personal rather than systemic responses — for example, I should recycle more. But as John Bellamy Foster insists in his fine book, The Vulnerable Planet: “The chief

causes of the environmental destruction that faces us today are not biological, or the product of individual human choice. They are social and historical, rooted in the productive relations, technological imperatives, and historically conditioned demographic trends that characterize the dominant social system.”10 A system premised on the commodification of nature and endless growth is inherently counter-ecological. But the hidden ecological curriculum that promotes an ideology of the autonomous individual fails to encourage students to think systemically.

As a youngster, some of the most powerful anti-ecological messages I absorbed were not in school, but at home in the evenings watching “Father Knows Best,” “Ozzie and Harriet,” “Dragnet,” “Donna Reed,” “Sea Hunt,” and the countless advertisements sandwiched in between. The shows were mostly Cold War, nuclear-family sagas — paeans to capitalism and white male supremacy. But the most compelling message of how to live in the world was to be found in the ads: the meaning of life is to consume. They encouraged us to believe that our route to love, to community, to fun, and to personal fulfillment comes through acquiring things. Indeed the thousands upon thousands of images and story slivers had one purpose and one purpose only: to promote consumption. It’s obvious that pushing consumption as a way of life, even as life itself, is not ecologically neutral. As Stuart Ewen observes in an excellent new video, The Ad and the Ego distributed by California Newsreel, “If you want to talk about what are the messages embedded in advertising as a whole, I would say the number one thing is the very principle of consumption; that is to say the making beautiful and desirable the using up of resources.”11

What’s this got to do with Bel-Aire School’s hidden ecological curriculum? That which is not critically examined is granted legitimacy. And because my school life went on with no critical reflection given to advertising and the ecological consequences of endless consumption, we had no reason to doubt the wisdom of the nightly commercial myth tellers. They became our interior landscapes. The earth was silenced. No questions were raised about the sustainability of the practices we were urged to pursue. Needless to say, neither were we encouraged to question the racist and imperial premises of the consumer culture: The levels of U.S. consumption are unthinkable for people the world over — for example, on average, an American uses 115 times more paper and 46 times as much electricity as someone living in India.12 Implicitly, the ads said, “This lifestyle is for us here in the USA, not for those foreigners in Asia, Africa, and South America.”

The observations I’ve made here are hardly comprehensive. A fuller exploration would have to unpack the reverent vision of science imparted to us — much the same way any critique of today’s hidden ecological curriculum would need to take a hard look at the ubiquitous worship of computers. We were the Science Fair generation, conceived in the shadow of Sputnik. Children were led to believe that science could only produce good — “Better living through chemistry” — and to have absolute confidence in the capacity of science to solve any problem. School taught us that science was the sole route to truth and progress. This was not an earth-friendly ideology. Science can “succeed” with horrifying consequences for humans and the earth. Napalm comes to mind.

As I think about the hidden ecological curriculum at Bel-Aire School, I’m left with the uncomfortable feeling that the hidden ecological curriculum of the social studies classes I teach has not been much better. Yes, I’ve done occasional lessons on nuclear power, environmental racism, the logging of old growth forests, and the like. For years I’ve taught a unit on the birth and growth of the advertising industry; but even in this critical study we focused almost exclusively on issues of gender. Unfortunately, just as my schooling taught me that real learning is an indoor affair, I tend to offer the same messages to my students. They come to class, interact with print, with each other, with me, with video. They sit in manufactured compartments of metal, plastic and Formica, surrounded by a massive structure of wood, brick, and glass.

I’ve never actually said to students: “The land out there is irrelevant. Pay no attention to the earth that this building rests on and that sustains the community surrounding the school.” I may not have said it, but I have taught it. I’ve coupled the hidden curriculum of this indoor education with a narrowly people-centered U.S. history curriculum that by and large neglected the history of the earth. Units on the Revolution, slavery and slave resistance, the Depression, and so forth, centered on key epochs of human activity but obscured the intimate connection between humanity and nature. The units misinformed students, in environmentalist David Orr’s words, “that we are alone in a dead world of inanimate matter . . .”


I’d like to wax triumphant about how I’ve fundamentally “greened” my curriculum, but that will have to wait until I’ve figured out how to do it. For now, I can offer only my thoughts on the broad principles of constructing an ecologically responsible curriculum:

  • As my critique of the hidden ecological curriculum at Bel-Aire School suggests, place matters.

A concern for the earth begins at home. Students ought to think about the history and character of the place they live: How has it changed and why? Necessarily this means getting students outdoors, interrupting the traditional school-think that learning occurs primarily in classrooms.

  • An important component of this curriculum of place should be a focus on the ecological patterns of the original inhabitants of the land.

I’m not suggesting that we disable our critical filters in studying indigenous societies — some of these were sharply hierarchical, militaristic, and practiced slavery. But embedded in the traditions of many First Nations is a kind of ecological golden rule. Students should be exposed to cultures that honor the “voice” of the earth.

  • Students need to develop an ecological literacy that alerts them to life’s interconnectedness.

For example, in the Northwest, where I live, students should have an awareness of how deforestation pollutes the rivers, which affects the quality of drinking water and the viability of salmon spawning, etc. Students should consider the earth a living web of relationships that includes — and sustains — humanity.

  • An ecological curriculum doesn’t entail studying merely about nature.

It requires that we equip students to question the root concepts of Western Civilization: “progress,” “development,” freedom for the autonomous individual, growth as goodness, private property as the basis of the good society. Throughout the curriculum, we need to ask whether the way these ideas have been understood and acted upon helps or hinders ecological sustainability.

  • The power of a green curriculum lies in its “ecology:” the interdependence of social and environmental insights.

Just as there is no human epoch without ecological implications, so too there is no ecological issue without a social dimension. Earth-conscious teaching should prompt students to think about the intersection of race, class, gender, nationality, and the environment. [See box, “Race and the Wilderness.”] This requires that we ask essential critical questions when studying the environment. To cite an example from the news: In Humboldt County, Calif., Pacific Lumber, owned by Charles Hurwitz’s Maxxam, Inc., is frantically chopping down thousand-year-old Redwood trees at nearly three times the rate of ten years ago. Why? Who benefits and who suffers from these policies? What are the effects on the ancient forest ecology? How are people responding? What can students do?

It’s not that I’ve been totally unaware of these goals. I think I’ve made some tentative but worthwhile steps toward a critical, multicultural, place and earth-oriented curriculum. But even my best efforts fall short.

When I began teaching a two-period Literature and U.S. History course at Jefferson High School in 1986, my partner Linda Christensen and I decided we would use Craig Lesley’s novel, Winterkill, about the relationship between a Nez Percé Indian and his son.13 The book is set in contemporary times, but uses historical flashbacks. A poignant section of the novel describes the “drowning” of Celilo Falls in 1957, when the Army Corps of Engineers-constructed Dalles Dam on the Columbia River submerged a traditional Northwest Indian fishing and trading area — the dam continues to kill salmon every year.

For many years, Linda and I took students to the Dalles Dam, about an hour and a half drive from Portland. We visited and critiqued the Army’s “museum,” a squat little house of propaganda whose one-sided displays explain the alleged necessity of constructing the dam. The first year of our Dalles excursion, an Army Corps of Engineers official accompanied students outside as they left the museum; he pointed to some of the Indian fishing platforms on the Columbia, and told students: “You know, some of those people still think they own this place.” Afterward we traveled across the river to Horse Thief Lake in Washington, where we hiked beneath the cliffs and examined indigenous rock paintings overlooking the river.

The field trip allowed us to “feed many birds with one hand”: the visit to the Dalles Dam museum gave students a chance to see an example of the historical mix of racism and ecological blindness, to observe a concrete instance of “environmental racism;” being outdoors together, away from the school building, was a community-builder for the class, and implicitly suggested the earth as a kind of teacher; the experience gave students a way to re-see the Columbia River and the people whose lives have been inextricably connected to it for generations.

Once we began to equip our students with the critical tools to read the world, they eagerly turned their attention to that part of the world right under their noses: our history/literature class. Students pointed out that although we had invited them to look at the earth and history from the Indians’ point of view, Indians themselves had entered this study as objects. Although we read numerous excerpts from First Nations people, by and large our teaching had created a white narrative about indigenous others: two white teachers, a white novelist (Craig Lesley), a white Army Corps of Engineers spokesman, a white Washington state ranger who led the petroglyph expedition, and a white lawyer from the Columbia River Defense Committee. Students were right to complain. In later years teaching the course, we invited in Celilo elders who told us traditional stories and described the ongoing struggles to defend their treaty rights to fish at all the “usual and accustomed places.”

• • •

The ecological rethinking I’ve proposed here is not merely a “PC” fad of the 1990s, as some might protest. In today’s world, a deep ecological consciousness is a basic skill. The “buy until you die” consumer orientation that bombards us from morning until night is not sustainable. The planet is dying, and despite the conceit that suggests we humans are above it all, our fate is intimately coupled to that of the earth, albeit unequally so based on race, class, and nationality. It’s about time the entire curriculum began to ask: What about the earth?


1 Foster, John Bellamy. (1994). The Vulnerable Planet:A Short Economic History of the Environment. New York: Monthly Review Press, p. 24.

2 Greenpeace Quarterly. (Summer 1996). “Don’t Let Your Fingers Do the Chopping,” inside cover.

3 Basso, Keith H. (1987). “‘Stalking with Stories:’ Names, Places, and Moral Narratives Among the Western Apache.” In D. Harper, ed., On Nature, North Point Press, p. 114.

4 Basso. pp. 99-100.

5 Berry, Wendell. (February 1991). “Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse.” Atlantic Monthly, p. 62.

6 Rich, Adrienne. (1979). On Lies, Secrets and Silence. New York: Norton Books, p. 186.

7 Quoted in Crosby, Alfred W. (1986). Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 175. On the ecological consequences of the “discovery of America” also see Kirkpatrick Sale. (1990). The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy. New York: Alfred

A. Knopf; and Herman J. Viola and Carolyn Margolis, eds. (1991). Seeds of Change: Five Hundred Years Since Columbus. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

8 Fischetto, Laura. (1991). All Pigs on Deck: Christopher Columbus’s Second Marvelous Voyage. New York: Delecorte Press.

9 Bowers, C.A. and David J. Flinders. (1990). Responsive Teaching: An Ecological Approach to Classroom Patterns of Language, Culture, and Thought. New York: Teachers College Press, p. 102.

10 Foster, John Bellamy. (1994). p. 12.

11 Boihem, Harold, director and editor. (1996). The Ad and the Ego. Distributed by California Newsreel, 149 9th St. Suite 420, San Francisco, CA 94103. 415-621-6196.

12 Foster, John Bellamy. (1994). p. 107.

13 Lesley, Craig (1984). Winterkill. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

Bill Bigelow ( is a Rethinking Schools editorial associate. He teaches at Franklin High School in Portland, Ore.