Accepting the challenge

  • Introduction
  • Activity 1
  • Activity 2
  • Activity 3
  • Activity 4
  • Reflection

Introduction

This module concludes the development of a rationale for reorienting Education for Sustainable Development, and encourages reflection on the challenges involved. The elements of the rationale developed in the four previous modules involved:

Module 1
An investigation of the global realities that make sustainable development an imperative for the future and a discussion about the role of education as a key strategy in helping achieve sustainable development.
Module 2
An analysis of the emerging concept of sustainable development and its importance in the future of human affairs and education.
Module 3
An exploration of the importance of a futures perspective in education and key characteristics of a sustainable future.
Module 4
A synthesis of ideas about sustainable development and futures education which provides a framework for thinking about ways in which education can be reoriented for a sustainable future.

This module explores the challenges that reorienting Education for Sustainable Development brings for schools and invites you to accept the challenge of reorienting your teaching for a sustainable future.

Objectives

  • To understand the scope of curriculum reforms possible in reorienting Education for Sustainable Development;
  • To evaluate the ways in which a school can contribute to a sustainable future;
  • To develop a strategy for enhancing the process of reform in a school and identify sources of support for the strategy;
  • To explore innovative educational programmes from around the world and identify lessons and ideas that could be adapted for use in a school; and
  • To reflect on the personal challenges of educating for a sustainable future.

Activities

  1. Schools for a sustainable future
  2. Planning for change
  3. The challenge of whole school change
  4. Sources of support
  5. Reflection

Internet Sites

Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative

Eco-Schools International. For contacts in many countries, see the EcoSchools World Map.

Eco-Schools – Scotland

Eco-Schools – South Africa

EnviroSchools – New Zealand

Green Schools – Canada

Green Schools – Fiji and the Pacific

Green Schools Initiative – USA

Green Schools Programme – India

School Development through Environmental Education – Europe

Schools Environmental Education & Development (SEED) – South Africa

Sustainable Schools – United Kingdom

Sustainable Schools – Taiwan

Credits

This module was written for UNESCO by John Fien with parts of Activity 1 adapted from ‘Charter for a Green School’, in G. Pike and D. Selby (eds) (1990) Greening the Staffroom, WWF-UK, Godalming.

Planning for change

Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.

Module 4 concluded by asking you to reflect on the challenge of reorienting Education for Sustainable Development. It asked you to indicate whether you feel daunted or excited about the challenge, how confident you feel about it, whether you think students and parents would be supportive, and about the resources and professional development you think might be necessary.

Review your answer to Module 4 – Question 13 in your learning journal to refresh your memory about how you answered these questions.

Some activities in this module involve a similar self-assessment.

However, the module begins with a school level evaluation.

A School Audit

Teachers have an important role to play in the reorientation of Education for Sustainable Development. However, it is important that their efforts be part of a whole-school plan. This involves school-wide co-operation in planning the formal curriculum, as well as the host of school policies and procedures that contribute to the learning experiences of students which constitute the hidden curriculum.

Such a whole-school approach to Education for Sustainable Development requires action in five areas:

  • The lessons provided in the formal curriculum
  • Policies and procedures to support social sustainability
  • Policies and procedures to support economic sustainability
  • Policies and procedures to support ecological sustainability
  • Policies and procedures to support democratic sustainability.

Evaluate how well your school supports Education for Sustainable Development in each of these five areas.

This questionnaire is not a definitive assessment. However, the general pattern revealed by your scores is a useful diagnostic tool. It can help identify areas where your school is already making a positive contribution to a sustainable future – and to identify areas where discussions between teachers, students, administrators, parents and the community could lead to helpful new initiatives.

Q1: Identify three areas of strengths and three areas for further development revealed by the general pattern of results to the questionnaire.

Personal Inventory

Q2: What skills do you have to help bring about the discussions that might lead to new initiatives?

Q3: Who would support you in these initiatives (groups or individuals)? How will you encourage them to support efforts to promote Education for Sustainable Development in your school?

Q4: Which teachers in the school might be willing to support your efforts?

The challenge of whole school change

Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.

Whole-school change usually takes a long time. It occurs in small stages, one step at a time.

Nevertheless, effective and lasting change does need to be planned and co-ordinated – and a good first step in planning for change is to look at what other schools and projects are doing.

The UNESCO Information Service provides many innovative ideas. This activity invites you to examine three UNESCO programmes to identify ways in which you can learn from the experiences of others.

Read about the UNESCO programmes that seem relevant to your school’s needs.

Q5: Analyse three UNESCO programmes relevant to your school’s needs:

  • Summarise the interesting or relevant ideas you find in each programme.
  • Identify the names of any related policies or programmes in your country which you could also learn from.
  • Identify any actions your school might be able to copy or adapt from these ideas.

Accepting the challenge

Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.

Education for Sustainable Development involves the whole curriculum and management of a school. The school sustainability audit in Activity 1 focused on these two aspects of a “sustainable school”. Module 6 provides guidelines and examples for ensuring that both the formal curriculum and hidden curriculum of a school can work together to promote and model principles of sustainable development.

Ensuring that both the formal and hidden curriculum work together in this way requires careful planning of school policies and allocation of staff responsibilities. The Qualification and Curriculum Authority in England recognises three stages for schools in meeting the challenge of becoming a “sustainable school”.

Stage 1 – Schools starting to develop Education for Sustainable Development
If your school is at this stage, it may have carried out one or two projects related to sustainability and have some elements as part of the formal curriculum. However, there is a need to also:
  • consider Education for Sustainable Development as a part of whole school planning
  • develop a policy on Education for Sustainable Development
  • appoint a member of staff to be responsible for Education for Sustainable Development.
Stage 2 – Schools progressing towards Education for Sustainable Development
If your school is at this stage, it will have carried out several projects related to sustainability and have begun to identify wider opportunities within the curriculum. It is likely to have done one or two of the following:
  • considered Education for Sustainable Development as part of whole school planning
  • developed a policy on Education for Sustainable Development
  • appointed a member of staff to be responsible for Education for Sustainable Development.
Stage 3 – Schools with a successful history of Education for Sustainable Development and want to take further steps
If your school is at this stage, it will probably have:
  • considered Education for Sustainable Development as part of whole school planning
  • developed a policy on Education for Sustainable Development
  • appointed a member of staff to be responsible for Education for Sustainable Development
  • developed formal planning and action teams for Education for Sustainable Development
  • audited its curriculum for Education for Sustainable Development and decided to further refine and update practice.

Source: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, England.

Analyse case studies of what some schools at Stages 1, 2 and 3 are doing to promote Education for Sustainable Development. Each case study describes how the school approaches school policy and practice, how Education for Sustainable Development in the school started and how the school has sought to make it sustainable, the problems that have been encountered and how they have been overcome, lessons learned, outcomes and future plans.

This module has highlighted the challenge of whole-school change as a way of reorienting Education for Sustainable Development.

What do you now feel about the scope of the challenges involved in doing this? You thought about this issue at the end of Module 4 and at the beginning of this module.

Q6: Repeat the reflection exercises in your learning journal by indicating the words and phrases that apply to how you currently feel about reorienting Education for Sustainable Development.

Q7: Identify and explain any ways in which your view of this challenge may have changed.

Sources of support

Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.

There are many sources of support for Education for Sustainable Development. We explore several of them in this activity.

Education Departments/Ministries

In Activity 1 you identified the range of colleagues and decision makers that could be invited to support Education for Sustainable Development in your school.

In Activity 2, you explored the work of UNESCO as well as local policies that also support this process.

Ministries or Departments of Education in some areas are now developing support services on the Internet to encourage Education for Sustainable Development. You may have identified some in your country in Question 5.

A good example is the Dorset Education for Sustainability Network in the United Kingdom.

The Internet

Non-Government Organisations also offer Internet-based support for schools and teachers.

Conduct an Internet search using keywords such as “education”+“sustainable development”+“your country” to identify on-line support services for Education for Sustainable Development available in your country.

Of course the Internet is global – and so you might be able to gain ideas and resources – even lesson plans in some cases – from organisations in other countries. These can be adapted to make culturally appropriate and locally relevant materials. To begin check out some of the following:

Teachers’ Unions

Many teachers’ unions also have policies that support Education for Sustainable Development.

Education International is the umbrella association for teachers’ unions around the world.

At its Second World Congress in 1998, Education International issued a declaration on education for ‘environmentally sustainable development’.

Q8: Identify the key themes in the various sections of the Education International declaration.

Q9: Research the policies of your teachers’ union or association. What support for Education for Sustainable Development might you be able to obtain from its policies and activities?

Reflection

Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.

Completing the module: Look back through the activities and tasks to check that you have done them all and to change any that you think you can improve now that you have come to the end of the module.

This module has shown that the challenge of reorienting Education for Sustainable Development is best met by a whole-school approach – and that there is a lot of support for this from organisations such as UNESCO, teachers’ unions and the educational policies and support services of national and local Ministries and Departments of Education.

However, all change still depends on the commitment and skills of dedicated teachers.

Read the inspirational challenge on the role of teachers in the new millennium. It was written by Peter Garrett, who was the lead singer of the band, Midnight Oil and a Minister for the Environment in the Australian national government.

Q10: Would you like to be one of the rapidly growing group of teachers around the world who are accepting this challenge? Reflect on this question in your learning journal and explain why.