30 SES 07 A, Pedagogical perspectives on teaching and learning in ESE
Paper/Ignite Talk Session
Sustainability education should encourage students to learn for themselves how to handle a complex and value-laden process in a global interconnected context, such as climate change, and how they can relate to 21stcentury issues, such as the tension between tradition and modernity (Delors 1996). Wals (2011) argues that sustainability education differs from other educational disciplines, as it is transdisciplinary, value-laden and transformative. This requires a re-evaluation of traditional dualistic view of cognition and emotion, as Pessoa (2008) notes that it is the close interplay of emotions and cognitions that enable us to think and act. Indeed, recent research shows that “students’ expressions of values and emotions relate positively to more complex understandings of ecological, economic and social aspects of sustainability” (Manni, Sporre and Ottander, 2017, 452). Emotions foster personal connections with the content, and stimulate the process of ethics and value clarification, being essential to give meaning to life as they support the ability to transform, and make sense of, perception, thoughts and actions (De Sousa 1987; Eilam and Trop 2011; Moon 2008).
This research set-out to explore teaching and learning approaches, aiming to motivate students to critically review self in the context of sustainability by challenging their anthropocentric frames of mind. A series of pedagogic interventions were designed and implemented with the intention of ‘disrupting’ learners’ mind-sets, which progressively stimulated more critical thinking about interdependencies that exist between self, society and sustainability, inter alia. Thus, this research explores the impact of pedagogical interventions on students’ frames of mind and to what extent the former stimulates a critical review of self in the context of sustainability, enabling moral change agency. The disruptive learning theory emerges from this research: an inspiration to use emotions as a gate way to motivate learners to critically reflect on their own beliefs, values and worldviews.
The pedagogical interventions were inspired by Jack Mezirow’s concept of transformative learning (1991) and Kurt Lewin’s notion of re-education (1948). These contained “visual cues” (inspired by a disorienting dilemma) with the intention to trigger emotions on students (for design of visual cues see Tillmanns, Holland, Salomão Filho, 2017). Subsequently, individual reflection and a rational discourse were used. Visual cue interventions exemplify one way of how disruptive learning can be activated in the classroom. This two-phased qualitative study was conducted with tertiary students of initial teacher education in Ireland over a two-year period. Participation in this research was voluntary. In the first phase, fifty-five participating students attended visual cue interventions offered as an addition to a sustainability module. In the second phase, seven additional students attended a sustainability module containing integrated visual cue interventions. Data was collected during and after the interventions. Students’ reflective diaries, surveys, results of the NEP scale (Dunlap and Van Liere, 1978), observations and two rounds of interviews were analysed using the Constructivist Grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2006).
This study has shown that disruptive learning can activate transformations in and of self, particularly re-orientation of mind-sets towards sustainability with a view to enabling moral agency in the context of sustainability. The disruptive learning theory contains three pedagogical processes: (1) disruption of learners’ existing frames of mind, (2) deep learning and reorientation of frames of mind, and/ or, (3) moral change agency in the sustainability realm. Disruptive Learning not only empowers learners to be able to live their lives in accordance to their own values, but also facilitates capacity building to find ones’ own way to practice moral change agency, aligned with one’s values, worldviews, and personal context.
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: a practical guide through qualitative analysis. Los Angeles: SAGE. Delors, J. (1996). Learning: the treasure within. Report to UNESCO of the international commission on education for the twenty-first century. Paris, UNESCO. De Sousa, R. (1987). The rationality of emotion. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Dunlap, R.E. and Van Liere, K.D. (1978). The new environmental paradigm: a proposed measuring instrument and preliminary results. Journal of Environmental Education, 9(4),10-19. Eilam, E. and Trop, T. (2010). ESD pedagogy: a guide for the perplexed. The Journal of Environmental Education, 42(1), 43–64. Lewin, K. (1948). Resolving social conflicts: selected papers on group dynamics. Washington, DC: Harper & Brothers. Manni, A., Sporre, K., & Ottander, C. (2017). Emotions and values–a case study of meaning making in ESE. Environmental Education Research, 23(4), 451–464. Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Moon, J. (2008). Critical thinking: an exploration of theory and practice. London: Routledge. Pessoa, L. (2008). On the relationship between emotion and cognition. Nature, 9(2), 148-158. Tillmanns, T., Holland, C., Salomão Filho, A. (2017). Design Criteria for Visual Cues Used in Disruptive Learning Interventions within Sustainability Education. Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education, 8(2), p.5-16. Wals, A. E. J. (2011). Learning our way to sustainability. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 5(2), 177–186.
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