Perceived Needs and Preparedness for Aquatic Education in Public Schools

Alabama grade school teachers were surveyed to determine (1) attitudes toward aquatic resource education, (2) experience and training in aquatic resource education, (3) receptivity towards various potential aquatic curricula, and (4) preferences for assorted aquatic teaching materials. In general, Alabama kindergarten through fourth grade teachers had very little formal training in either natural resource education or aquatic natural resources in particular; however, they recognized the importance of both topics, and the majority felt strongly that additional materials and curricula topics in the area should be provided. Most reported that their students had limited access to nature and natural resource educational experiences outside the classroom. Hence classroom materials would provide the major source of information for learning about aquatic natural resources. With regard to aquatic natural resource curricula topics, teachers preferred simpler, general topics such as ' 'water pollution'' or "life in a fish pond" to more complicated or specialized topics such as "identification of fishes." Some minor differences in preferred curricula topics were identified when teachers were grouped by subjects taught (science and other), geographic location (rural or urban), and grade taught. These findings indicate a recognized need for aquatic education curricula and materials as well as a willingness to prepare and teach these subjects. Perhaps now, more than in the past, public education is ready to introduce unique topics in natural resources into the classroom. Consequently, professionals must supply these materials now.

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