30 SES 11 A, Critical Perspectives and Learning Apporaches to Global and Environmental Citizenship Approaches
United Nations sustainable development goal (SDG) 4.7 includes education for sustainability (ESD) and global citizenship (GCE), and this is a goal of national curricula across Europe. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals which focused on so-called ‘developing countries, the SDGs are to be implemented in all signatory nations. In the European context, this raises important questions as to a) how ESD and GCE will be bridged in support of target 4.7, and b) how such an approach will continue to reinforce extant approaches to learning about global problems ‘over there’ or will promote new approaches explicitly taking up challenging questions around global inequalities. Applying a global ethical dimension in education is complex and challenging, particularly when considering how global issues are framed, debated, and attempted to be solved and by whom. ‘Global’ problems, such as poverty or deforestation are often framed in the ‘Global North’ as concerning countries ‘over there’, creating an ‘us’, who study and solve the problems, and a ‘them’, who cause the problems and require help. Therefore, truly ethical approaches to global issues – and pedagogical processes and practices that would contribute to them – are possible only if we recognize the relations of power that have shaped history and engage with critical modes of inquiry.
This paper will report on early findings from a one-year (2018) research project, funded by the British Academy, aimed at investigating the possibilities of an ethical approach to teaching global issues by highlighting colonial systems of power and creating a resource to support teachers in this work. The main research question is: How can teachers be better resourced to mainstream SDG 4.7 into their secondary classrooms through a critical approach?
The project has four key aims:
- To advance scholarship in the fields of Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) and Global Citizenship Education (GCE) by synthesising scholarship and gathering data about the enabling factors and barriers to ethical global issues pedagogy;
- To support a critical approach to mainstreaming of SDG 4.7 by drawing on cutting-edge theoretical scholarship in ESE and GCE to create a framework for ethical global issues pedagogy with secondary school teachers;
- To refine the framework through participatory empirical research with teachers to ensure its usability in the classroom; and
- To develop a teacher-endorsed resource to support the achievement of Target 4.7
As a bridging framework, we draw on postcolonial perspectives to reflect on the body of scholarship focusing on educating about/for global equity and justice issues. In particular, we apply postcolonial scholars’ theoretical insights on distribution/inequalities, power and epistemology to reorient and generate reflexive and explicit discussions about global equity and justice within education (e.g., Andreotti & Souza 2013; Mignolo, 2011; Willinsky 1998, 2008).
A significant contribution of this work is bringing together the fields of global citizenship education (GCE) and environmental and sustainability education (ESE) to mobilise into pedagogical application concerns raised about extant approaches to teaching global issues. Scholars of ESE have argued that currently mainstreamed approaches to ESD implicitly reinforce existing North–South inequities and supported individualism and competition (e.g., Jickling & Wals 2008; Van Poeck & Vandenabeele 2012; Sund & Öhman, 2014). Similarly, critical GCE scholars have raised concerns that superficial approaches to global education avoid complex ethical issues thereby, and despite good intentions, contributing to the reproduction of colonial systems of power (e.g., Andrerotti, 2011; Pashby, 2012; Widdows, 2014). We argue this critical scholarship provides a strong rationale for an ethical global issues pedagogy that explicitly takes up difference and diversity and acknowledges the inequalities inherent to who is most impacted and who can take responsibility for creating a sustainable future for all.
We draw heavily on Andreotti’s (2012) work applying postcolonial analyses to the concepts of ‘critical literacy’ and ‘reflexivity’ as an educational practice. Her HEADSUP tool identifies seven historical patterns of thinking and relationships that are often reproduced by educational initiatives: hegemony, ethnocentrism, ahistoricism, depoliticisation, salvationism, uncomplicated solutions and paternalism. We are currently adapting this tool to create a framework for ethical global issues pedagogy for use by secondary school teachers. We will then conduct workshops involving up to 10 teachers each (n=50): one in Sweden, three in the UK (Manchester, Birmingham, and London) and one in Finland. The targeted locations are in areas with relatively large numbers of immigrants and therefore diverse student demographics. We have also selected these countries for feasibility and impact purposes given the tight 12 month timeline. They each contain strong global education networks and NGOS with whom we are collaborating and drawing on as expert advisors to help with recruitment, feedback on the proposed resource, and dissemination of the final resource. For the workshops, we are targeting teachers of upper/secondary (age 15+) subjects with direct links to global issues (e.g., Geography, social studies, natural sciences). Workshops will occur in the winter and spring of 2018. The primary purpose of the workshops is to share the framework developed by the researchers and to gain data across a set of diverse locations that will help us to understand enabling factors and barriers to teaching global issues and to produce a resource appropriate for teachers across Europe. At ECER we will share some preliminary findings from these workshops and from a set of six classroom visits where teachers who participated in the workshops volunteered to try out the framework in a class and have a researcher observe and interview them. Data sources include: a) a pre-conference survey regarding enabling factors and barriers to teaching in support of SDG 4.7; Transcript recordings of: b) focus groups where participants share a teaching artefact that illustrates their attempt to teach in support of SDG 4.7; c) larger group discussions capturing feedback and suggestions to the framework created by the researchers; d) classroom visits and interviews with teachers (using method piloted by co-author, forthcoming, drawing on Tochon, 2008; Denley & Bishop, 2010). Data will be analysed using content analysis with a specific focus on determining key themes around enabling factors/constraints and specific feedback on the framework.
This paper draws on a review of critical literature in ESE and GCE to articulate the rationales for an ethical global issues pedagogy relevant to today’s complex global issues. It will share the framework developed by the researchers based on this rationale and will offer some early findings from participatory research with teachers. The bulk of the data collection will occur in the next few months. Therefore, we do not yet have any preliminary results to share from the empirical research. However, for expected findings we can draw on a pilot case study of a small group of teachers in Sweden conducted in 2017. It involved observations of teachers facilitating the study of ethical global issues in a class and video-feedback interviews where they and the researcher reflected on key moments. That pilot study found starting points for teachers to engage in teaching about global ethical issues include their own life experiences and personal ethical concerns, what Sund and Wickman (2008) refer to as objects of responsibility. The pilot study found teaching of global issues that explicitly takes up difference and engages with issues of differentiation of power and resources enables students to develop critical awareness. They begin to identify the values they live by, recognise the sets of assumptions underlying them when comparing with other perspectives, and reflect on the structures of which they are part. Students in these classes were quite aware that global issues are many-sided and concern both environment and social justice. However, while teachers were committed to this type of teaching, they relied heavily on their own experiences in the world or their own personal interests which suggests that more explicit and widely available support through resourcing teachers is required. That is a key aim of the research we will be presenting at ECER.
Andreotti, V. (2011). Actionable Postcolonial Theory in Education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Andreotti, V. (2012). “Editor’s Preface: HEADS UP.” Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, 6(1): 1–3. Andreotti, V. & Souza, L. M. T.M. (Eds.) (2012). Postcolonial Perspectives on Global Citizenship Education. NY: Routledge. Denley, P., & Bishop, K. (2010). The potential of using stimulated recall approaches to explore teacher thinking. In S. Rodrigues (Ed.), Using analytical frameworks for classroom research. NY: Routledge. Jickling, B., and A. E. J. Wals. (2008). Globalization and Environmental Education: Looking beyond Sustainable Development. Journal of Curriculum Studies 40(1): 1–21. Mignolo, W. (2011). The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham & London: Duke University Press Pashby, K. (2012). Questions for global citizenship education in the context of the ‘new imperialism’: For whom, by whom?. In V. Andreotti & M. Souza (Eds.), Postcolonial perspectives on global citizenship education (pp. 9–26). New York, NY: Routledge. Sund, L. and J. Öhman (2014). On the Need to Repoliticise Environmental and Sustainability Education: Rethinking the Postpolitical Consensus. Environmental Education Research, 20 (5): 639–659. Sund, P., and P.-O. Wickman. 2008. Teachers’ Objects of Responsibility: Something to Care about in Education for Sustainable Development? Environmental Education Research, 14(2): 145–163. Tochon, F. (2008). A Brief History of Video Feedback and its Role in Foreign Language Education. CALICO Journal, 25(3), 420-435. Van Poeck, K., and J. Vandenabeele. (2012). Learning from Sustainable Development: Education in the Light of Public Issues. Environmental Education Research, 18(4): 541–552. Widdows, H. (2014). Global Ethics: An Introduction. Durham: Acumen. Willinsky, J. (1998). Learning to divide the world: Education at empire’s end. Minneapolis, MN:University of Minnesota Press. Willinsky, J. (2008). Preface. In A. Abdi & G. Richardson (Eds.), Decolonizing democratic education (pp. vii–x). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.
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