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Sustainable Being: A Personal Journey Linking Whole Health and Sustainability Education

By LeAnne Robinson

Sustainable being is the concept of living a lifestyle that is grounded in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In this article the author shares how her experiences and learning during a sabbatical in India and Germany helped her make the connection between sustainability education, change initiatives, whole health and heartful living. An overview of sustainable being is provided in the context of five principles of living shared by a vedic-eco community in India who is involved in global sustainability efforts. These principles are related to those living in western society with an emphasis placed on the role of sustainable being for educators involved with change initiatives.

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Essential Elements of Sustainability in Teacher Education

By Susan Santone, Shari Saunders and Chris Seguin

This article focuses on defining the proficiencies new teachers need in order to be able to lead in―educating for sustainability‖ (EfS). Educating for sustainability involves teaching and learning collective problem solving skills to address critical environmental, economic, and social issues. This article addresses the essential elements of EfS (content knowledge, skills, behaviors, and dispositions) that need to be taught in teacher education programs so that new teachers can lead implementation of EfS with K-12 students. A set of five EfS proficiency areas are identified. For each proficiency area a brief rationale and literature review are provided, followed by traits of teacher education courses that develop the proficiency area. Evidence of these traits tells us when EfS is happening in pre-service teacher education programs. Alignment of each EfS proficiency area to national teacher InTASC Standards concludes each section.

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We Teach How We’ve Been Taught: Expeditionary Learning Unshackling Sustainability Education in U.S. Public Schools

By Stephanie Owens

Millions of youth in the United States today are mandated to go to “work” daily. Indoor spaces, hard, plastic seats, and inauthentic menial tasks characterize their workplace. In a time in which the life support systems of our planet are imperiled and more humans are living in communities of poverty and violence, there exists an absurd disconnect between how education is currently practiced and the education that is needed to facilitate deep cultural revolution. Our teachers are taught to teach using the same irrelevant pedagogies, sitting in rows inside institutions of higher learning, taking notes, and memorizing disconnected facts for regurgitation on multiple-choice exams. My argument is that we are not going to be able to implement any true attempts in sustainability education without concomitant change in the way we teach teachers. While publicly funded schools still provide an equalizing agent to potentially provide opportunity for all children regardless of their race or social class, no school can truly educate children to meet the coming demands of our time without experiential teacher education. Expeditionary Learning, a national reform model for public schools, creates lasting change in the praxis of teaching by creating opportunities for teachers to learn in a different way than they have often been taught as students themselves. With continued coaching when they return to their classrooms, teachers are able to create learning environments embodying inquiry and authenticity so that our youth are empowered to affect societal change.

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Teacher Professional Learning Communities for Sustainability: Supporting STEM in Learning Gardens in Low-Income Schools

By Sybil S. Kelley and Dilafruz Williams

In order to address the ecological and social problems of sustainability in our modern times, citizens need to be empowered with an understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts and practices. Furthermore, STEM must be democratized and taught in life-giving and life-sustaining ways that include all students instead of the small fraction of “high achievers” and limited to the “potential” scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. At present, K-12 students and their teachers rarely have the opportunity to learn beyond their concrete school walls and to reconnect with nature, exacerbating their disconnection of STEM from real life and hence sustainability. We believe that engagement with school grounds and gardens and the very soils on which learning takes place can provide simple yet authentic day-to-day educational experiences that can bring mindfulness of lessons related to the cycles of life and death and to the interplay of justice and power in our communities. To transform teaching and learning in the classroom, teachers need different learning experiences that provide them with the time, space, and appropriate supports to translate their learning into teaching practice making education relevant to life. School gardens provide a rich context for learning both for teachers and students by embracing experiential, integrated, and collaborative learning. This study highlights an example of a summer program that involved teachers in hands-on education related to STEM in the learning gardens at four low-income schools in southeast Portland representing the growing ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of the districts in the metropolitan area. Teacher voices capture the essence of learning STEM in the learning gardens, and also address issues of social and environmental justice.

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Sustainability, Happiness and Education

By Catherine O’Brien

Sustainable happiness, teacher education, sustainable behaviour

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