08 SES 05 JS, Joint session NW 08 and NW 30
Paper Session Joint Session NW 08 and NW 30
This conceptual and theoretical paper examines the significance of the concept of participation for teacher meaning-making processes in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Health Education (HE) in schools. The two fields, ESD and HE in schools, can be understood as fields of practice and research that focus on a wide palette of societal issues rather than on narrow curriculum contents.
This paper focuses on the fields of ESD and HE in schools with a view to understanding their common challenges when facing the often-idealized concept of pupil participation in learning. Focus on a democratic/critical approach to the key educational issues has made the notion of participation a cornerstone of the fields of ESD and HE (Jensen et al., 2000; Reid et al., 2008). However, a singular understanding of what constitutes participation in school-based teaching and learning practices related to sustainability and health cannot be found in the body of conceptual research and empirical studies. The notion remains popular, but contested. Like the concepts of health and sustainability themselves, ‘participation’ within the fields of ESD and HE in schools can be understood from a wide array of perspectives influenced by affiliated research traditions, geographical and socio-cultural settings, and the ever-changing educational agendas. In this article we address the significance of the notion of ‘participation’ as an educational ideal in Education for Sustainable Development and Health Education in schools.
The discussion is situated within the critical perspectives on ESD and HE, where pupil participation plays a central role along with focusing on “real life” issues rather than on narrowly defined curriculum topics related to health and sustainability (Jensen et al., 2000; Reid et al., 2008; Carlsson et al, 2009; Wals et al., 2013; Bonnet, 2013).
Our argument lingers on why we continue to cling to the notion of participation within the fields of ESD and HE in schools, and we consider the possible significance of this concept on two levels; firstly, as an educational ideal which permeates the fields of ESD and HE, and secondly as a pedagogical strategy offering specific methodologies. These two elements of participation do not represent a dichotomy, nor are they inseparable. We do however argue that both levels are evident within the use of the concept in the literature on Education for Sustainable Development and Health Education (particularly under the umbrella of Health Promoting Schools).
Furthermore, we examine the importance of continuing to draw on the concept of participation, and its significance among teachers. The article considers how the significance of the notion of participation can be understood from the perspective of the individual teacher. In other words, how does the notion of participation aid meaning making processes for the individual teacher involved in ESD and HE? Focusing on the perspective of the significance of participation as a concept for the individual teacher, we draw on theory from outside the established fields of ESD and HE.
Bonnett, Michael (2013) “Normalizing catastrophe: sustainability and scientism”. Environmental Education Research, 19 (2). Carlsson, M., Simovska, V. and Jensen, B.B. (eds.) (2009): Health Education and Health promotion – theory, research and practice [Sundhedsundervisning og Sundhedsfremme – teori, forskning og praksis] (in Danish), Aarhus University Press. Jensen, B. B., Schnack, K., & Simovska, V. (Eds.) (2000). Critical Environmental and Health Education: Research Issues and Challenges. Copenhagen: Danish Royal School of Educational Studies. Reid, Alan (ed.) (2008) Participation and Learning: Perspectives on Education and the Environment, Health and Sustainability. Springer. Wals, A.; Stevenson, R. B.; Brody, M.; Dillon, J. (2013): Tentative Directions for Environmental Education Research in Uncertain Times. In: International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education. Stevenson, R.B.; Brody, M.; Dillon, J.; Wals, A (eds.). Routledge.
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