Environmental awareness is an important component of education in the entire educational vertical. At the level of primary education, teachers play an important role in didactic approaches of teaching, with which we can develop and promote environmental awareness in pupils. Teaching approaches are often not based on cross-curricular integration, or cross-curricular integration is rare, but should include art education that encourages creative environmental thinking and a critical view on the world. The realization that traditional learning and teaching /do not support/give too little support to the scientific way of thinking has led to innovative approaches in school work. This is reflected primarily in science content and thus also in environmental education.
The research approach with an emphasis on experimental work encourages pupils for science education, which also follows from the results of the TIMSS 2011 survey. When introducing new approaches, it is crucial that they are appropriate to pupils’ cognitive levels. Already lower primary school pupils are able to actively participate in discussions and listen to each other. Environmental education and related environmental awareness are not only related to science content but relate to a number of other areas, including art education. Art education contributes to the dynamics of environmental education with an emotional component in learning, which contributes to the appropriate treatment and change of attitudes towards environmental content and behavior towards the environment.
The purpose of the research was to analyze the attitude of fourth-grade primary school pupils towards the environment and art and the ability of pupils to interact between the environment and art. We tried to determine the ability of pupils to recognize environmental content in the works of art of artists and in their own work. Based on the pupils' attitudes towards the set problems, an innovative didactic approach of teaching environmental contents through fine arts (ECTA) was developed, which is based on interdisciplinary connections. ECTA approach was carried outin school with pupils of the experimental group, the results were analyzed and evaluated.
Through environmental art, pupils can reflect on social and environmental issues affecting the entire community in their own artwork. Some researchers believe that art as an activity can be a bridge between ourselves and nature, for which environmental art also plays an important role in the educational process, as through art activity pupils can develop critical thinking about the environment, human interventions in the environment and become more responsible inhabitants of the world. Art education, together with art and environmental education, encourages thinking about the way of life in the modern world and the consequences of this way of life on the environment in which we live. Linking environmental content with creative art content /requires/must be given more importance and attention, as it has a number of positive social aspects.
The results of a survey in two primary schools with 154 fourth-graders in two groups (experimental and control) show that teaching with the ECTA approach has a positive impact on promoting environmental awareness and increasing the level of positive attitudes and behavior towards the environment as well as a greater knowledge of environmental and art content seen in the pupils of the experimental group.
The pupils of the experimental group achieved statistically significant differences in environmental and artistic knowledge, and in awareness of the attitude and behavior towards the environment, which is also reflected in the generally higher grades for their works of art. It is evident from the artworks of the pupils of the experimental group that they achieved a higher level of sensitivity to the environment and managed to show the environmental motif in an appropriate way in their works. Through artistic creation, the pupils of both groups also learned about the mechanical and other properties of waste materials and pictograms for recycling. The pupils of the experimental group were also statistically more successful in recognizing environmental art in artists' works of art.