20 SES 08, Developing Teachers and Learners for Collaborative Teaching and Learning Environments
Parallel Paper Session
The paper draws on the experience of teachers who are developing a focus on global citizenship and sustainability education in different regions of Europe. Life story research interviews are providing empirical data about the interplay of sustainability education within the personal, professional and political dimensions of the lives of the 9 respondents in the study from 3 different educational contexts.
The call to re-orientate educational programmes within the framework of the current UNESCO Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to which these teachers have responded is raising challenging questions about the impact of such a globalised policy initiative on the relationship between sustainable development, environmental thought, democracy and education. Jickling and Wals have noted the ‘homogenising tendencies of globalised policy movements’ and evidence a viewpoint held by those in the field that such a trans-national ESD programme runs the risk of ‘reducing conceptual space for self determination, autonomy and alternative ways of thinking’ (Jickling and Wals 2007:4).
A diversity of values and ends are an expected dimension in a civic education process that prioritises critical learning about the relationship between people and the planet. It is noted that engineers place their efforts in greener technologies while lawyers focus on national laws and international conventions (UNESCO 2011). Hicks (2007) observes that the ESD community includes those with a technocentric worldview, proposing technical solutions and government regulation, others working within an ecocentric paradigm encouraging forms of cultural and economic transformations and others arguing from a rights perspective for social justice for all. In this way competing economic, technical, psychological, legal, moral and spiritual perspectives position education in sustainability as a complex intercultural venture.
It is also noted that increased neoliberal tendencies that result from austerity measures in education systems across the region create additional barriers for sustainability educators to overcome. This paper allows critical exploration of the cultural assumptions and values that underpin the respondents’ various civic engagement and educational actions in the cause of education in sustainability. The core research question ‘In what different ways are the teachers evolving their civic identities through their learning and teaching in this field’ will provide data that can be used to develop indicative findings about
· their personal constructions of the meaning of sustainability
· what is seen to constitute useful knowledge and skills in this field,
· how such knowledge and skills can be incorporated in a critical lifelong learning process for a diversity of learners,
· the challenges in developing, managing and maintaining such programmes within their institutions,
· their own civic engagement in overcoming these and other barriers that arise
· the various disturbances that the idea of sustainability causes across the spectrum of their personal / professional lives.
Analytical tools from critical theory in the works of Apple and Beane (2007) are applied in order that the relationship between culture, forms of domination and society can be more clearly exposed.
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