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Rethinking the Rs in waste education

Could the conventional methods of teaching young children about waste be re-engineered?

Could we come up with new ways for children and young adults to learn about reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, remediate and repair? According to one ECU researcher, maybe we can.

Professor Mindy Blaise wants to turn the way we teach young children about waste, water and the world around us on its head.

“Science has been trying to solve the issue of environmental degradation and climate change, but hasn’t adequately addressed the problem,” she said.

“Maybe if we approached these issues differently, we might create a change.”

“It’s not just about teaching children and young people how to reduce, reuse or recycle. Instead, we might need to come up with a radically different approach.”

Professor Blaise is interested in bringing together early childhood researchers, artists and waste scholars from the environmental and social sciences and the humanities to respond to current waste practices in early childhood education.

Professor Blaise wants to use the creative arts to analyse, rethink, and transform waste practices in early childhood.

She is hoping to develop new theoretical and empirical directions for the field of early childhood education that rethink the Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, remediate, and repair) and change young children’s relations with waste.

Professor Blaise is building a research team that will focus on the Rs by re-envisioning managerial waste practices in locally meaningful and generative ways.

Exploring how children’s lives are affected by waste materials and becoming more aware opens up possibilities for imagining and educating for alternatives to the well-known Rs approach.

She is part of an international research team looking to engage with innovative disciplinary and interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches to rethinking the Rs and is hoping to expand the project in Western Australia.

Professor Blaise is hoping to build on current relationships with schools, early childhood centres, artists and creative groups to expand her research in Western Australia.

The research team will also leverage the ECU School of Education’s expertise and relationships with government and industry.

Professor Blaise is the 19th appointment under ECU’s Professorial Research Fellow initiative, an ambitious project to recruit more than 20 professors from around the world to increase research activity and impact.

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