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Landscape and education

Benedetta Castiglioni
Expert of the Council of Europe. Department of Geography, University of Padova (Italy)

If the idea that landscape belongs to everybody, and is not owned only by politicians and technicians, nowadays is more and more universally shared, yet we are still at the beginning of the process of increasing people's awareness and responsibility towards it. Many times we talk about it, very few times we concretely act with this concept in mind. We should pay more attention to the fact that the European Landscape Convention refers to awareness and education as the first specific measures entrusted to the Signatory Parties. In other words: the first step to act on the landscape is to intervene on the population in order to build aware, responsible and competent behaviours. Only after building shared awareness, we can act directly on the landscape with identification and assessment activities, objectives definition and policies implementation. Often projects and activities in education, awareness and training are left in the shadows perhaps because those involved in managing the landscape do not usually have the necessary expertise in educational methods and topics, hence delegating the task to teachers and educators. The latter, by contrast, often lack sufficient expertise on landscape issues. Surely we need to build contexts which encourage a collaboration between sectors and skills. The Council of Europe Report Education on Landscape for Children goes in this direction. As it is addressing both landscape experts and teachers, first it highlights concepts from both landscape and pedagogical contexts, trying to make them dialogue with each others; then it proposes methodological and practical indications and examples that could be used by interdisciplinary teams of landscape "trainers" to plan and implement activities, mostly for children at all school levels, and probably ongoing training for adults as well. We hope that the Report can be a useful tool to bridge the gap. We should also remember that Education on landscape can be regarded as part of a wider Education on sustainable development, especially important in the 2005-2014 UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD): "Education is a driving force for the change needed" In this relevant context, Education on landscape presents some peculiar (probably unique) educational opportunities. Actually, when learning to "read" landscape - the primary ability to be developed by educational activities - children (or adults) come to further achieve important competences and attitudes towards sustainable development questions: the ability to consider relationships and synthesis aspects (firstly between nature and culture); the involvement of the emotional dimension (the emotions and feelings aroused by the landscape) along with the rational dimension (essential in order to interpret the landscape); the awareness of cultural differences emerging from different landscapes or from different reference cultural models when perceiving landscapes; the consideration that the landscape is a continuous process of change, taking place both in the relation between the past and the present, and, something perhaps even more important from an educational point of view, in the relation between the present and the future, when we reason about future landscapes and present choices. Benedetta Castiglioni Expert of the Council of Europe Department of Geography, University of Padova (Italy)

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