17.10.2009 -

Jean-Marc Septsault, focal point for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the French ASP network


World Teachers' Day 2009: Passion and patience the key to effective teaching

“What is important is passion and patience,” says Jean-Marc Septsault, focal point for Education for Sustainable Development in the French UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet).

Mr Septsault spoke about his practical work as a teacher and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) during the Teachers’ Round Table held to mark World Teachers' Day at UNESCO headquarters on 5 October.

In addition to his job as a technology teacher at the ASPnet school Michel Chasles outside Paris, he is a speaker for ESD and a strong believer in the support the community can give to schools in this area.

“At our college, we introduced the concept of eco-delegates whereby students elect their representatives to provide a platform for sustainable and student-led decision-making and project implementation,” he said. This enabled students to become main actors in the learning process and to acquire values and behaviour required for a sustainable future.

For Mr Septsault the fact that his school is a member of ASPnet has greatly facilitated the exchange of ESD knowledge and ideas.

“The exchange with other committed colleagues all over France and even worldwide is a permanent reminder to integrate ESD values in the everyday work at school. To implement sustainable school projects demands an additional investment on behalf of the teaching staff, parents and students. But the visibility of our work through the ASP network is rewarding and has given our work a global vision under the motto, “Thinking of tomorrow together.”

Mr Septsault, who was inspired to join the profession when he was a teenager by a history teacher who gave up his spare time to take the class to museums, took the occasion of World Teachers’ Day to talk about the concept of being a teacher today and to discuss the rights and obligations of teachers, but also of students.

He believes teaching is one of the most exciting and challenging professions. “You not only pass on your knowledge but by being in contact with youngsters, you pass on values, you help students to construct their identity, to be adults and responsible citizens.”

The challenge in the teaching profession was “to constantly question yourself not only in the subject matter you are working on, but also in teaching methods. You wouldn’t teach science the same way now than you did a century ago. The only thing that doesn’t change is that the child is at the centre of your lesson”.

Listening to children’s needs remains the most important piece of advice he would pass on to new teachers. Teachers also need support. “Team work is our best support, exchange with other colleagues, but also exchange with other schools and the community,” he said.

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