01 SES 16 A, U-turn on the Highway to Hell? Education and Professional Development for Sustainability as Praxis
One of the great dilemmas of our time is that while we have vast reserves of knowledge about our world that indicates a grave threat to environmental sustainability, this knowledge continues to be insufficient impetus to change our practices on the scale that is necessary to avert the approaching catastrophe. We, as humans continue to engage in practices that hurtle us along ‘the highway to hell’ with “No stop signs, [nor] speed limit” (Lyrics from ACDC’s Highway to Hell) that can only end in ‘eco-crisis’. So how do educators, literally, metaphorically and professionally force a U-turn on this highway?
This symposium is organized as a joint symposium of Network 1 (Professional Learning and Development, PLD) and Network 30 (Research on Environmental and Sustainability Education; ESE). Each presentation introduces a theoretical-philosophical view on environmental education and also considers the professional development of teachers and other educators, and importantly, to the ways in which all can learn to enable and encourage changes in the practices and to the ways in which we live. This symposium presents four papers that posit the importance of education’s role as praxis, initiating into practices that allow for a sustainable future. Each presentation takes seriously Marx's thesis (n:o 11) on Feuerbach that, paraphrased, states: The philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it. This symposium, then, consists of presentations that fall loosely on a continuum, from the philosophical to the pragmatic, that address the fundamental responsibility of educators to instill more than just knowledge of the hell that is approaching.
The first presentation, based on his recently released book ‘Education in the era of ecocrisis’ Veli-Matti Värri asks: Why do we collectively and continually bury our heads to the extreme and wicked problems the world faces? Using the writings of Merleau-Ponti, Lacan, Marcuse and Žižek can contribute to an ecological turn in education, Värri explains. The second presentation draws upon Heidegger’s critique of ‘technological thinking’ and the enframing afforded by technology known as Ge-stell. It asks: How do educators break free of Heidegger’s Ge-stell, and encourage learners the freedom to think, or at the very least learn to think? The third presentation argues that while knowledge about the looming ecological crisis is expanding, our practices are not changing. It is therefore critical that for social practices to change educators’ professional development must consider the practice architectures that prefigure (enable or constrain) those practices. Without understanding the different arrangements that both form and are formed by practices, professional development of teachers can not be fully realised. Finally the fourth presentation gives examples and analyses of learning practices in what are referred to as transboundary learning communities. The global projects redress the imbalance of education systems serving only the economy, and speak to the notion of transgressive practices in communities that sometimes U-turn on the highway to hell, other times leave the highway completely, but always take seriously the threats to the planet.
Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P. and Bristol, L. (2014). Changing Practices, Changing Education. Singapore: Springer Peters 1966 Peters, M. A., & Wals, A. E. (2016). Transgressive learning in times of global systemic dysfunction: interview with Arjen Wals. Open Review of Educational Research, 3(1), 179-189. Värri, VM (2018) Kasvatus ekokriisin aikakaudella. Tallinna: Vastapaino.
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