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This paper summarises a research project carried out by the author on the effectiveness of pre-service teacher education in environmental education in New Zealand. Secondary pre-service teacher education students who had opted for a 20 hour course in environmental education expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the course but this begged the question of what would happen to them once they hit the reality of the classroom in a country which then had no policy or curriculum guidelines on environmental education. The author followed up eleven graduates from the 1996 course and six from 1997 to see if they were teaching, if they were teaching environmental education and how they now felt about their teacher training. The results were mixed – but some were teaching environmental education. They all continued to speak highly of their College training in environmental education and all but one would encourage others to do the course. However classroom management problems, staff cynicism and a lack of status for environmental education had created difficulties for them. Several had already given up on teaching as a career and others were considering leaving. Strategies to counter these disturbing trends are outlined as recommendations to the College and the wider education community.
The key to successful environmental education is the classroom teacher. If the teachers do not have the knowledge, skills and commitment to environmentalise their curriculum it is unlikely environmentally literate students will be produced (Wilke 1985, p. 1).