Mental ownership is a useful concept and mechanism to understand why some kinds of participation are more influential than others in educatition, Whatever Environmental Education or Education for Sustainable Development. And the main point is essential to understanding succesful democratisation of teaching and learning. Clearly, ‘feeling mental ownership for something’ is closely related to other concepts like commitment, engagement, involvement, showing interest, sense of belonging, or responsibility with or for something.
Clearly the use of participatory approaches is argued for from different perspectives. For some the importance of a participatory approach is due to its effectiveness compared to traditional top-down approaches. Others view participatory approaches as crucial within a general democratic ideal where learning opens up opportunities for empowerment and emancipation. Although the first view is often embedded in ‘management thinking’ it is worth recognising that the alternative is not typically a free-choice scenario with endless democratic possibilities, but a substitute, still stiff top-down approach, with very limited feedback and influence from the involved persons. So even with the (often criticised) management rationale for participation, such a participatory approach may be preferable when the alternatives are considered. Furthermore, it is important to realise that even in educational settings where participation is grounded in a democratic philosophy, there are ‘frames’ and structures restricting the level of choices and influences.
Mental Ownership and Participation for Innovation in Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development af Soren Breiting.
In Participation and Learning Perspectives on Education and the Environment, Health and Sustainability. (Alan Reid • Bjarne Bruun Jensen • Jutta Nikel Venka Simovska (Editors) Pages 159-180. Springer 2008.
The Research in Participatory Education Network (RIPEN) was initiated by the Research Programme for Environmental and Health Education at the Danish School of Education, University of Aarhus, in 2003. It embraces a broad spectrum of researchers, scholars, students, and practitioners of participatory education, working in or from Europe, North America, Africa, and Australasia. Given the international scope of the network and the range of interests it now has, as initiators and early participants in the network the editorial team invited RIPEN to discuss what a critical perspective on participatory approaches to education might mean for education and the environment, health and sustainability, and how network members might research and substantiate their claims and ar guments.