Circles of Value: Integrating Maya environmental knowledge into Belizean Schools

  • Circles of Value: Integrating Maya environmental knowledge into Belizean Schools

by Kristina Baines  and Rebecca Zarger




As formal education is increasingly valued in Maya communities, a common assumption is that “traditional” knowledge, primarily learned outside of school, may simultaneously become devalued. Using a case study from several villages in southern Belize, this chapter investigates this assumption by examining how multiple influences and actors create valued knowledge, both informally and through the design and implementation of a formal in-school environmental science curriculum. the context for this investigation is unique in that the primary study community has recently received legal rights to manage their lands traditionally, ostensibly adding value to local environmental knowledge. Activists and Mayan educators reinforce this value, however teachers and others involved in the formal education system may assign less importance to informal knowledge. Students respond to and negotiate with such quickly changing value assignments. We suggest that the practice of integrating traditional environmental knowledge into Belizean schools described in this chapter requires a consideration of the circulation of multiple voices, forces and values in the context of a dynamic sociopolitical environment.



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Key words: education, indigenous knowledge, environment, curriculum



Suggested APA reference: Baines, K., & Zarger, R. (2012). Circles of Value: Integrating Maya Environmental Knowledge into Belizean Shools in Anthropology of Environmental Education. New York: Nova Science Publishers.


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