30 SES 16 B JS, Public Pedagogy and Sustainability Challenges Part 2
Joint Symposium NW 13 and NW 30 continued from 30 SES 14 B JS
Educating for sustainability challenges is a precarious responsibility since it confronts both teachers and students with the existential fact that we all, at the end of the day, are living and dying together on a damaged planet (Haraway). This fact is most recently highlighted by the Swedish school strike activist, Greta Thunberg, 16, who, in her speech on the World Economic Forum in Davos (2019), crave of adults and world leaders to urgently act on climate change because, she says, ‘our house is on fire’. What Thunberg’s activism draws attention to is that the question of how to stop the fire and prevent our only ‘house’ from burning down is an urgent ethical and political question. What Thunberg also brings to our attention, to our minds, is that the educational responsibility is not to use the young as a solution to a situation that is not of their own making, but to present the world as a home worth sustaining and caring for. Drawing on the metaphor of the ‘house’, the main purpose of the paper is to develop an educational language on sustainability challenges that takes the existential conditions of our living together on a damaged planet seriously. To this end, the paper unfolds in three parts. The first part relates education for sustainability to the Arendtian dilemma that, on the one hand, the task of the teacher is to tell the children about ‘the world as it is’ (a damaged planet) and, on the other hand, not to deprive the children of their will to restore the world and imagine it anew (Arendt 1961). The second part plays with the image of inheriting a damaged house by exploring questions such as: How can we, as teachers in schools, present the inherited house ‘as it is’ without overburdening the new generation with its corroded and burnt-out state (i.e. its fire damages, its sintered well, and its mold colonies), yet being true to the seriousness of the situation? How do we ‘stay with the trouble’ and endure the imperfection of the house (Haraway; Todd) while at the same time work for change and stimulate the imagining of new and better futures? The third part of the paper seeks to develop an educational language for sustainability challenges by exploring the implications of the image of inheriting a damaged house in three gestures: educational responsibility, educational imagination, and, educational hope.
Arendt, Hannah. (1961/2006). Between past and future: eight exercises in political thought. New York: Penguin Books. Haraway, Donna (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press. Ruitenberg, W. Claudia. (2015). Unlocking the world. Education in an ethic of hospitality. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. Sharon Todd (2009). Toward an Imperfect Education: Facing Humanity, Rethinking Cosmopolitanism. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.
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