What can we do in school for ESD?
Reflections and proposals from the enSI International Network Michela MayerItalian enSI National Coordinator[1
The enSI international NETWORK Environment and School Initiatives is a decentralised international network under the umbrella of OECD's (Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development) Centre for Educational Research & Innovation (CERI) and from 2005 will join the Unesco as a special partner in the UN decade for ESDenSI has supported educational developments that promote environmental understanding, active approaches to teaching and learning, and citizenship education, through research and the exchange of experiences internationally since 1986.
enSI aimsto foster the democratic participation of students as active citizens in shaping the environmental conditions of their life and work,to promote and facilitate the development of an ecologically sustainable society and action within educational systems, to create stable research networks which link practice in schools with academic educational research and with institutional decision making.
enSI partners and membersenSI main partners are: Governments improving their national EE policyPilot schools with teachers and pupilsResearchers and expertsTeachers educators and their studentsSince 1986 the following countries have been involved in enSI programmes:Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.
enSI projectsTeachers education, supports the integration of innovative approaches into teacher education programs through environmental education. Quality criteria for ecoschools, compares the criteria leading the eco-schools movement in every country aiming for the construction of a common set of quality criteria. Learnscapes across the globe, involves the school community redesigning its school grounds to permit children, teachers and their communities to interact with their local environment. SEED European Comenius 3 network promotes Environmental Education as a driving force for School Development and transfers models of good practise into teacher education.
From Environmental Education to Education for a Sustainable Future The planet, the environment, society and mankind can continue to live only through change Sustainable human development envisages a cultural change and the emergence of an ecologically literate competent citizenry who understand global issues (Orr, 1992). Change and attention to social and environmental emergencies is a key for educational developmentEnvironmental education is becoming education for conscious change
Change exercise: take a piece of paper and draw 9 points as in the figure below. Try to connect these 9 points together using 4 line segments and without raising the pencil from the paper: where a line ends, another must start.
Different kinds of changes"Changes 1" are changes within a frame, that is a set of implicit or explicit rules"Changes 2" are changes of frames.
If we want to change frames we must be aware of them !(Change, Watzlawick, Weakland and Fisch)
Change 2 is a challenge to schools It is no longer a matter of knowledge and information transmission or of change of behaviour in order to live the earth wisely we must learn to think differently and to take the responsibility for our thoughtsschools should start to work on open issues, by encouraging the school community and local community to do research togetherschool should educate for change, talk about future, teach to act responsibly and think critically.
The contributions of the ENSI project to education for sustainabilityThe stress on the importance of local knowledge profoundly changes the image of education and the structure of teaching Dealing with real situations call for different dynamic qualities, useful for structuring and changing situations: spirit of initiative, autonomy, commitment towards a cause, and the willingness to take on responsibilityA reflection on sustainability challenges the assumptions of everyday life and of the culture in which we are often unconsciously immersed: a culture of complexity should avoid the mistakes of many scientific and technological "solutions" In order to deal with the complexity of real problems and with the feeling of uncertainty that go together educational innovation, teachers were proposed to work with action research methodologies
Local situational knowledgeKnowledge can only be constructed through an individual process which gave value and meaning to experience and communication. This context-linked knowledge is meaningful because it is useful and can be used in real life and not because it is part of a programme or because it is objective or detached from reality; The school becomes a focal point for knowledge production : not just a library in which to find past information but a centre in which the community can come together to debate and deal with problems
From static to dynamic qualities Poorly structured situations where problems must still be defined before they can be solved call for different disciplines and competencies, for dynamic qualities instead of static qualitiesEducational innovation and the development of dynamic qualities are strictly interdependentalso teachers must develop dynamic qualities and the ability to move in uncertain and poorly structured situations The teacher is not a book that preserves unchanging knowledge, rather he is a sailor who adapts to the changing conditions of the sea. (Italian teacher)
The environmental crisis is a knowledge crisisComplexity, was another key words in the ENSI project, to indicate the impossibility to reduce the environment, living being and the knowledge itself to a machine or to a mechanism. A reflection on complexity involves the assumptions of everyday life and of the culture in which we are often unconsciously immersed. The technocratic culture has created the collective illusion of the absolute possibility of knowledge and control The evolution of science in the last century demonstrates instead that real systems are unique and often unpredictable The awareness of limits must not hinder action, but requires the ability to act in uncertainty, to face risk and unpredictability in concrete situations.
The observer is part of the system
Teachers as reflective practitionersThe teachers role must change: from someone who transmit knowledge to someone who must construct significant contexts and to ask legitimate questions within which students can actively create their meanings.Confidence shifts from confidence in contents - established rules, data, methods - to confidence in processes that allow us not to eliminate but to keep error under control. The innovative teacher has to take on the burden of incompetence.(Stenhouse, 1975)
Action Researchas a tool for teachers educationAR calls for participation and comparison of different views and values among all those taking part in the research both teachers and studentsAR does not separate values and subjective viewpoints from the data considered to be objectiveAR does not separate theory from practice; indeed, it helps researchers, teachers or students to discover the implicit theories influencing their own behaviours and interpretations of reality AR is collaborative and its results also depend on the relations established: it therefore does not allow detachment but encourages involvement.
Action research as a tool for school developmentAction research envisages a cyclical process of planning, action, evaluation and reflection that adapts both to deal with environmental problems and to deal with the problems emerging from educational innovation Pupils engage in active enquiry and action in the environment and teachers research the educational strategies they employ.The school begins to act as a learning organisation that can adapt, change and transform itself and develop in response to peoples needs, desires and aspirations, both inside and outside it
School Development and ESD Ensi defined school development in a broad way: a development which shapes our interaction with the environment in an intellectual, material, spatial, social and emotional sense to achieve a lasting quality of life for all (Posch, 1998) From classroom based initatives to the involvment of the whole schoolIntroducing values and dimensions of ESD not only within an activity or a discipline, but as a horizon for school development
Sustainability in schools means Sustainability at a pedagogical level, based on significant learning dealing with non-structured situations and even conflictual issues Sustainability at a socio-organisational level, by building a culture of communication and an atmosphere of mutual respect in schools and of mutual support with the community and with the surrounding territory. Sustainability at a technical-economic level, by systematically adopting eco-auditing procedures in order to establish the objectives to be achieved for each school
The Green School Award in SwedenThe points of departure are the fundamental values expressed in the national curriculum. Green School activities typically feature involvment as well as awareness and knowledge of the relationship between man and nature form an environmental, social, ethical, aesthetic and cultural perspective The schools are responsible for the self-evaluation of their action plan and the democratic principles of beeing able to influence, take responsibility and participate are seen as central to the development of the environmental dimension at school.
The Schools Agenda 21 in ItalyThe school commits itself to a process of participation and reflection on possible changes addressed to all the stakeholders students, parents and staff the school comes forward as a concrete model of Agenda 21 processes, and educates students and all those involved in the schools life to take part in decision-making and in the resulting actions.
Intercultural exchangesAn added value for an ecological school developmentThe most important and most profound changes that an education for sustainable development calls for are those which concern the school culture Teachers often take for granted what learning means and on what teaching methodologies should be used Rediscovering the differences between nations and cultures, being conscious of what we take for granted, is a product of the exchanges that international networks like ENSI can stimulate.
In order to change we must learn to look with other eyesOne of the conditions for a meaningful change in whatever situation is that there be:a shared representation of problems, i.e. a common representation of the things that need to be solved. the world is full of solutions seeking a problem