Lesson 2B: Stewardship, Consequences and New Ideas

Lesson 2B: Stewardship, Consequences and New Ideas            Grade level:  7-10                 Time: One 45m class
Cross Curricular Components: Lesson 1C: The Historical Context of Conservation; 1D: Consistent Issues; 3A: The Progressives; 4A: Conservation vs Preservation; 6A: Sustaining Forests

PDE Academic Standards: 1.1.8/11; 1.2.8/11; 1.6.8/11; 4.1.12.E; 4.3.7.A; 4.3.10.A; 4.3.12.A; 5.2.9/12; 6.3.9/12; 6.5.9/12; 8.1.9/12; 8.2.9/12; 8.3.9/12



–Students will examine and discuss the various philosophies of the relationship between man and nature and defend their stance through evidence and argument

–Students will decide on the merit of past conservation decisions and apply them to today’s issues



Seeking the Greatest Good

Environmental Questionnaire (Appendix C)

Encounters with the Archdruid by John McFee

Anticipatory Set:  (2min)      “Moment of Zen”       Discuss the quote as it relates to both students and the topic.

“A people who values its privileges over its principles soon loses both.”

                                    -Dwight D. Eisenhower


–View Chapter II of Seeking the Greatest Good

–Spend a brief moment having students list some of the “Short sighted financial gains” described in the film and relate them to today’s debate on climate change and environmental protection. This should be review.

–Pass out the questionnaire found in Appendix C.  Ask the students to write in the top right corner what their philosophy is about the environment.  Have the students take the questionnaire and share their results as a class.  Are they surprised how they rank?

–Next, have the students work in groups to find different primary sources that describe the different philosophies of man’s relationship with nature.  Suggestions include the Sioux Native Americans, George Marsh, Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, John Rockefeller and Teddy Roosevelt.  Students will be assigned to groups based on where they fall in their own environmental philosophy of preservationist, conservationist or laissez fare capitalist, conqueror or steward.

–Using primary source documents and current research, have the students present their stance on the environment. After each group has presented their “platform”, students will have the opportunity to change groups.  The students must then debate each other, supporting their “platform” with evidence from as many sources as possible and advocating for solutions to current problems (if they believe there is a problem) and countering the solutions of others that they deem incorrect.  Students can “tag” each other in and out of the debate.  (Hopefully this will give each student a sub specialty in their group)  After a second round, students who have been persuaded otherwise will then be given an opportunity to change groups.  Debate ends after the instructor feels that all variables have been discussed.


Cross-Curricular extension (Language Arts, grades 10-12)

Assign student groups each a chapter of John McPhee Encounters with the Archdruid

Working in groups, the students will answer the questions given and will then discuss the merits and differences of the approaches to the environment from each main character (Appendix C)


Closure/Summary:            (3min)

Using notes taken during their debate and in creation of their platforms, students will then be required to answer one of the following essay prompts:

–Were early warnings about the environment from men like Muir and Pinchot true?  What evidence did they have   at the time that we were headed for “disaster”?  Compared with what we know now and the philosophies put forth            in debates today, were they prophetic or alarmist?  Should the National Forests have been created?

–Discuss the various philosophies of man’s relationship with nature.  How do they conflict?  Have they        changed with time?  Where do you fit? Are you a conqueror or a Steward?  Are you a conservationist or    a          preservationist?  Should the land be used, protected or both? Should the National Forests have been        created?



Students will be evaluated on their responses to the discussion and to the quality of their essays.

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