30 SES 13 C, Perspectives from and on teaching in ESE
Background and research interest
According to educational ministries in Germany, teachers are required to promote the guiding principle of sustainability in their teaching (KMK, 2015). In contrast to this political claim, sustainability is not extensively a topic in teacher education. It is ultimately up to the teachers how they engage with the topic (e.g. privately or in workshops), which concept of sustainability they work with and which didactics they use. In theoretical considerations, maintaining complexity of sustainability issues and different perspectives is stressed because of educational and democratic reasons (Jickling & Wals 2008; Öhman & Öhman 2012; Sund 2013). This position is related to teaching methods which make different perspectives visible and allow the reflection and discussion of them among students. Studies show that especially these points are a challenge for teachers (Borg, 2012). These challenges are influence by different traditions in school subjects: Social science and geography teachers feel better prepared, have less problems with pluralistic positions and use more ESE (Environmental and Sustainability Education) conform methods (Borg, 2012; Summers et al., 2005; Corney, 2006). Furthermore, the connection between the conceptualization of sustainability/sustainable development and the method of teaching is stressed in the studies. Corney (2006) describes that teachers in ESE also have difficulties to define their own role within the tension of biasing students and taking the urgency of global problems seriously. This tension leads to further studies in which the didactical orientation of teachers is connected to the beliefs of the teachers: Sund (2015) describes that (in terms of individual actions) morally convinced teachers favor their own position and present the topics less differentiated. In contrast, teachers holding a more pluralistic and political understanding of sustainability present the topics more complex. Andersson (2016) supports this result: The teacher students who consider teaching ESD as a moral obligation are less concerned in convincing their students from the validity of individual actions. The study of Kater-Wettstädt (2017) shows that those didactical orientations influence the students´ level: She describes the students´ engagement with sustainability issues due to the teachers´ didactical orientation: Addressing students as moral subjects and the associated (implicitly) built up need for individual action hinders a deeper (personal) engagement with the topic. The students apply different strategies in dealing with this built up need (e.g. reproducing the teachers´ opinion, discussing the issue on an abstract level). All have in common that they are detached from the personal level. In contrast, more open didactical approaches allow a deeper engagement. It stays unclear if the implicitly built up need for individual action (following ESD mode 1) is due to a lack of knowledge (regarding the concept of sustainability) or mainly based on the individual conviction.
Research interest and key objective
The main research interest of this study is to get a deeper understanding of the described influencing factors for teaching sustainability issues and the described tension by interviewing teachers who consider themselves as teaching sustainability issues. Especially the emergence of these factors and a possible connection among them is of interest. The examined factors are the teachers´ understanding of sustainability and with it the kind of engagement with the topic (e.g. university or private life), the teachers´ understanding of the role of education for/within a societal transformation and the teachers´ position with regard to the tension between instrumentalising students and enabling them to think critically. Another objective of the study is to examine how teachers are dealing with different strategies of students addressed as moral subjects. Hereby, a contribution is made to the under-explored field of the evaluation of students by teachers in ESE.
As the aim of this study is to get a deeper understanding of teachers´ perspective, a qualitative and reconstructive approach was chosen. The interviewees are teachers who consider themselves as “sustainability teachers”. They differ in their background regarding their subjects, school form and years of experience. Still, all of the teachers either teach a natural science or geography. Semi-structured interviews are conducted, which are divided into two parts: 1) In the first part the teachers are asked to tell about their first contact with “sustainability”, to describe their lessons (including the preparation) and a special moment they keep in mind. They are further asked to describe how they would consider a lesson, unit or project as “successful” and finally which challenges they are confronted with. This first part serves for the reconstruction of their orientations towards the named factors. 2) In the second part of the interview, the teachers are confronted with teaching material (a short video sequence) which is highly moralizing and invites students to consume in a different way (typical for the “normative tradition”, Sund 2015). The aim is to get a better understanding of the teachers´ teaching tradition and their understanding of education with regards to sustainability. After this sequence, they get three different transcripts in which students react to the video sequence. They are asked to express initial thoughts about the reaction and also to evaluate the transcript according to goals in ESE. This is primarily done to support the analysis of the named factors (as the evaluation is an immediate reaction within the interview and not a re-narration of the own practice). For this study, it is of interest to analyze deeper structures of knowledge as they are considered to influence every-day practice implicitly (Bohnsack et al., 2010). Hence, the interviews are analyzed with the documentary method which allows the reconstruction of implicit knowledge (ibid.). So far, 12 teachers were interviewed, 8 interviews were already analyzed. It is expected to have 15 interviews (conducted and mainly analyzed) by the time of the presentation.
The way how the teachers got engaged initially with sustainability seems to influence their understanding of sustainability as well as the role of education: A)Two teachers tell solely from a private engagement with sustainability. They name mainly production patterns, lifestyle choices and consumer habits as main topics for their lessons. They do not consider their teaching contents as problematic as they are convinced to know what is sustainable. The tension between education and instrumentalisation is `solved´ through the division of educational opportunities: During their lessons, they inform the students, in workshops they do projects which are considered as an offer. In line with this logic, one teacher orders the students´ responses. The other teacher refuses any judgement as he is convinced that the impact of teaching is delayed. B)In contrast, the majority of teachers got engaged with the topic rather on a scientific basis (they know about sustainability models and/or ESD). They tell explicitly about tensions within the concept and also regarding education. They mainly name topics which are viewed from political, scientific, societal and cultural positions. They are convinced that it is important to teach about sustainability, but they are not sure about the right way. They also see it as a success when students change their habits, but prefer to do it in a reflective way. In contrast to the teachers described in A, they evaluate the students´ responses with regards to general pedagogics aims (e.g.self-efficacy) and less to sustainable behavior. In general it can be stated that the current analysis gives clarity about the examined factors. Unfortunately, the evaluation of the students´ responses cannot be ordered into the case logic in all interviews at the present state. Results from a deeper analysis taking more interviews into account will be presented at the conference.
Andersson, K. (2016). Starting the pluralistic tradition of teaching? Effects of education for sustainable development (ESD) on pre-service teachers´ views on teaching about sustainable development. Environmental Education Research, 23(3), 436-449. Bohnsack, R; Pfaff, N. Weller, W. (Eds.) (2010): Qualitative analysis and documentary method in international educational research. Opladen: B. Budrich. Borg, C. et al. (2012). The barriers encountered by teachers implementing education for sustainable development: discipline bound differences and teaching traditions. Research in Science & Technological Education 30(2), 185-207. Corney, G. (2006). Education for sustainable development: An empirical study of the tensions and challenges faced by geography student teachers. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 15(3), 224-240. Jickling, B., & Wals, A. E. J. (2008). Globalization and environmental education: looking beyond sustainable development. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40(1), 1-21. Kater-Wettstädt, L. (2017). How secondary-school students deal with issues of sustainable development in class. Environmental Education Research. Published online http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13504622.2017.1373068 [31.10.2017] KMK (2015). Orientierungsrahmen für den Lernbereich Globale Entwicklung. https://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/Dateien/veroeffentlichungen_beschluesse/2015/2015_06_00-Orientierungsrahmen-Globale-Entwicklung.pdf [31.01.10] Öhman, J., & Öhman, M. (2012). Participatory approach in practice - an analysis of student discussions about climate change. Environmental Education Research. Summers, M. et al. (2005). Education for sustainable development in initial teacher training: issues for interdisciplinary collaboration. Environmental Education Research, 11(5), 623-647. Sund, P. (2015). Experienced ESD-schoolteachers´ teaching – an issue of complexity, Environmental Education Research, 21(1), 24-44.
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