In Earth in Mind, noted environmental educator David W. Orr focuses not on problems in education, but on the problem of education. Much of what has gone wrong with the world, he argues, is the result of inadequate and misdirected education that:
- alienates us from life in the name of human domination
- causes students to worry about how to make a living before they know who they are
- overemphasizes success and careers
- separates feeling from intellect and the practical from the theoretical
- deadens the sense of wonder for the created world
The crisis we face, Orr explains, is one of mind, perception, and values. It is, first and foremost, an educational challenge.
The author begins by establishing the grounds for a debate about education and knowledge. He describes the problems of education from an ecological perspective, and challenges the "terrible simplifiers" who wish to substitute numbers for values. He follows with a presentation of principles for re-creating education in the broadest way possible, discussing topics such as biophilia, the disciplinary structure of knowledge, the architecture of educational buildings, and the idea of ecological intelligence. Orr concludes by presenting concrete proposals for reorganizing the curriculum to draw out our affinity for life.