30 SES 06 A, Learning and Teaching Related to Sustainable Consumption
In the Swedish school subject Home and Consumer Studies (HCS), students are expected to learn how to become sustainable food consumers (National Agency for Education, 2011). This is evident from one of the purposes of HCS education: that students should develop an awareness of the consequences of their choices in the household from the perspective of sustainable development. The aim of this presentation is to investigate how students act in different decision-making processes during food work and illustrate the challenges this entails for teaching for sustainable food consumption in HCS. Previous research on sustainable food consumption and adolescents has among other things shown that that young people (15-16 year olds) show a dip in interest in relation to sustainability issues (Olsson & Gericke, 2016) but that girls are more likely to act sustainably than boys (Ojala, 2015). Furthermore, Parinder (2012), finds that young people have knowledge about the health aspects of food but her study indicates that they lack knowledge about the environment and climate change in relation to food choices. Several aspects matter though when young people are to choose food and they often find that it is complex if all perspectives should be considered.
According to GAP, the Global Action Program on Education for Sustainable Development, which is the follow-up to the commitment made at the Education for Sustainable Development Decade (Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014), [ML1] there is an urging need to more actively integrate sustainable development in education, through concrete actions. It is expressed as a need to "generate and scale up action in all levels and areas of education and learning” (UNESCO, 2014, p. 14). Young people are an important group in today’s consumer society and are designated as one of five priority areas of the program. We mean that HCS, or Home Economics (the international term), is a subject that have the prerequisites to successfully integrate sustainability issues in teaching, but there is still challenges to be addressed.
The theoretical framework for this study draws on Dewey’s notions on habits, learning and experience. In Human Nature and Conduct, Dewey (1922/1983) describes human action as not always deliberate or planned but, rather, based on habits. He writes that “The essence of habits is an acquired predisposition to ways or modes of response, not to particular acts” (Dewey 1922/1983, p. 32) [...]. The acquired predispositions constitute the prerequisites for certain responses to situations and problems that arise within a specific sociocultural context (cf. Nelsen, 2014). We develop personal habits of acting on the basis of being in contextual situations. Habits are acquired and are alterable depending on the circumstances.
The principle of continuity is central in Dewey’s conception of learning, which means that “every experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those which come after” (Dewey, 1938/1997, p. 35). In other words, we use previous experiences in new situations, to move on, to learn something new or to solve a problem. The ability to learn from experience means that new habits may be formed. An awareness of this provides tools to understand and challenge students´ experience and habits in their learning process.
The data material was collected using video recording during spring 2016, in two Y9 classes on two occasions taught by the same teacher. Three video cameras were used on each occasion, in total 32 h of data was collected. The data used to illustrate the analysis comes from the first lesson where the students were to prepare “sustainable burgers”. The supply of meat was limited and thus the students’ task was to find an alternative protein source to the burger, and also to prepare sides which could be justified as sustainable choices. The models Practical Epistemological Analysis (PEA; Wickman & Östman, 2002) and Organizing Purposes have been used to analyze the material. The PEA-approach is used to make visible what gives the students direction in relation to the purpose of the lesson. With PEA, we examine what teacher and student say and do, and the relationship between how and what the participants learn in the interaction in the classroom (Wickman, 2006). In the operationalization of PEA, four concepts are used: purpose, gap, relation and stand fast. The concepts are used to analyze what the students’ purposes are and how the students proceed in their decision-making processes. In order to more closely study different purposes, analyzes of ultimate purposes and proximate purposes (Johansson & Wickman, 2017) are made. The ultimate purposes are defined as the teachers´ and curriculum’s purposes of teaching (Johansson & Wickman, 2017). Proximate purposes can be described as “student-oriented purposes, which allow the students to fruitfully use their everyday language and relate to their experiences” (Johansson & Wickman, 2017, p. 2). Desirable is that the teacher creates proximate purposes that the students understand, and that the purpose works as what Dewey calls "ends-in view" (1938/1997), i.e. they perceive the ultimate purpose of teaching and work towards it. The endeavor is to bring about continuity between these two purposes in order for the students to achieve the ultimate purpose and reach the set goals. Organizing purposes are used as a tool to study the continuity between students' and teacher's purposes. This enables a discussion of what challenges teaching faces and what should be taken into consideration in teaching about making sustainable food choices.
The result shows that in most of the situations the students participate in, the relations to the taste of the food is what becomes decisive in their decision-making process and thus the direction for further work. The students’ proximate purposes are more related to the taste, and do not always relate to the ultimate purpose related to sustainable choices. In other words, there is no continuity between the students' purposes in the activity and the teacher's purpose with the lesson. It can be noted that earlier experiences and habits are crucial when it comes to making choices regarding sustainable food consumption. Students’ experiences of what tastes good and their habits of food and eating make up their predispositions for decision making. According to Dewey (1922/1983), habits are deeply anchored in our body and it is necessary to change the conditions to transform habits. This entails challenges for teaching, if teachers want students to learn to make sustainable food choices It is essential to form understandable purposes, for students to form proximate purposes in line with the ultimate purpose, which means that the activities may need to be reconsidered. This challenge the traditional and common arrangement of the HCS lesson – to prepare, complete and eat a meal together (Lindblom, 2016). Instead, teaching might gain from more specifically define a particular learning content, for example to provide the student encounters with new tastes. If students’ repertoires of taste were to be extended, this would also broaden their predisposition to make sustainable food consumption choices.
Dewey, J. (1922/1983). Human Nature and Conduct. In J. A. Boydston (Ed.), John Dewey: The Middle Works, Volume 14. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and Education. New York: Touchstone. Johansson, A.-M., & Wickman, P.-O. (2018). The use of organising purposes in science instruction as a scaffolding mechanism to support progression: a study of talk in two primary science classrooms. Research in Science & Technological Education. 36 (1) 1-16 Lindblom, C., Erixon Arreman, I, Bohm, I, Hörnell, A. (2016). The importance of time frames in Swedish Home and Consumer Studies. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 40(3), 299-308. National Agency for Education. (2011). Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the recreation centre, 2011. Nelsen, P. J. (2014). Intelligent dispositions: Dewey, habits and inquiry in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 6(1), 86-97. Ojala, M. (2015). Hope in the Face of Climate Change: Associations With Environmental Engagement and Student Perceptions of Teachers´ Emotion Communication Style and Future Orientation. The Journal of Environmental Education, 46(3), 133-148. Olsson, D., & Gericke, N. (2016). The adolescent dip in students´ sustainability consciousness - Implications for education for sustainable development. The Journal of Environmental Education, 47(1), 35-51. Parinder, A. (2012). Ungdomars matval. Erfarenheter, visioner och miljöargument i eget hushåll. Göteborgs Universitet, ACTA UNEVERSITATIS GOTHOBURGENSIS. UNESCO. (2014). Roadmap for implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Paris, France: UNESCO. Wickman, P.-O. (2006). Aesthetic Experience in Science Education. Learning and Meaning-Making as Situated in Talk and Action. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlabaum Associates. Wickman, P.-O., & Östman, L. (2002). ”Learning as Discourse Change: A Sociocultural Mechanism”. Science Education, 86(5), 601-623.
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