responses to the gap
"whilst few would doubt the urgency and importance of learning to live in sustainable ways, environmental education holds nowhere near the priority position in formal schooling around the world that this would suggest" (back cover).
Under modernist understandings of identity and the world, Palmer's (1998) statement suggests an obvious contradiction. Perhaps it is caused by a simple lack of will, or, as Plumwood describes it, an instance of hearing the iceberg warning, but instead of slowing down, deciding to "double the engine speed to Full Speed Ahead and go below to get a good night's rest" (see Plumwood, 2002, p. 1).
Other responses include the claim that schooling structures are antithetical to environmental education, and thus make it difficult to engage in experiential, interdisciplinary learning (Stevenson, 1987; Stirling, 2007; Thompson, 2004, and many others). The inherently political nature of some approaches to environmental education in the face of the depoliticizing moves in schools (Lousley, 1999) also make it difficult (see Robottom, 2005; Stevenson, 1987; Weston, 1996). Further suggestions come from eco-psychologists who suggest we have undergone a sort of "psychic dislocation" (Glendinning, 1995) or as Louv (2005) describes it, we are experiencing a nature deficit disorder.
A poststructuralist, who suggests that identities (or subjectivities) are multiple, shifting, and produced through discourses (Weedon, 2004), might claim that there is no paradox at all; the apparent contradiction is simply an instance of multiple and contradictory subjectivities working against one another with the ability to act being determined by the discourse holding the most power at any given time (for a discussion of these issues in the context of environmental education, see Barrett, 2007; Barron,D., 1995; Davies & Whitehouse, 1997, 2000; McKenzie, 2007).
By engaging a notion of the subject as constituted through discourses, always in flux, often contradictory and continually in the process of being positioned or positioning oneself within available discourses, one can begin to illuminate the power of internal, discursive barriers to participatory and critical approaches to environmental education (see Barrett, 2006; Barrett, 2007; Barrett, Hart, Nolan & Sammel, 2005). One can engage these notions of subjectivity and discourse to identify the ongoing knowledge-practice gap in relation to environmental action.