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Education For Sustainability

By Bincy S,
P5 Homeroom Teacher
Stonehill International School

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught”

- Baba Dioum

Imagine a school community where every learning experience is an adventure not just about the world, but how to take care of it. This isn't a dream—it's a mission. Let's explore how.

What is our responsibility?

"Our responsibility extends beyond the classroom. Education for sustainability is a practice that aims to develop responsible global citizens who are inspired and empowered to restore our systems and ensure a healthy future for all. It fosters the understanding of the interdependence of our society, the economy, nature and individual well-being through meaningful experiences. It aims to cultivate one’s critical skills and behaviours, attitudes of inquisitiveness, and a sustainability mindset. 
 
Green School Bali stands out as a remarkable community dedicated to sustainable practices. From the thoughtfully designed campus to the development of their unique pedagogical beliefs and the implementation of innovative teaching methods, every aspect reflects their commitment to sustainability.
 
Teaching green doesn't just mean environmental education. A more holistic systems thinking model tells us that sustainability education starts from within. It connects us to nature, to people, to cultures, to real world issues and provides opportunities to have a positive impact on a student's own life and the world they live in."

- Sal Gorden, Head of school, Green School, Bali

 

Stonehill International School

Education Revolution

"We urgently need a paradigm shift in our concept of the purposes and practices of education. We need to leave behind the concept of education as a passport to more money and higher status in the future and replace it with a concept of education as an ongoing process that enlists the tremendous energies and creativity of schoolchildren in rebuilding and re-spiriting our communities and our cities now, in the present." - Grace Lee Boggs

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Green Educators Onsite Experience Course at Green School Bali, and I must say it was a transformative journey. The course provided a deep dive into sustainable education practices, inspiring me to reflect on our school's current approach and envision its future development. 

Stonehill International School

Green School Bali's commitment to developing responsible global citizens resonated deeply with me. The emphasis on fostering a sustainability mindset, critical skills, and attitudes of inquisitiveness highlighted the importance of going beyond traditional classroom learning. It's about connecting our students to nature, cultures, real-world issues, and empowering them to make a positive impact on their lives and the world around them. Students should be able to apply their learning of the real world to the real world now. 

Cultivating Environmental Stewardship:

“If we really want children to flourish, we need to give them time to connect with nature and love the Earth before we ask them to save it" - David Sobel

David Sobel's theory on environmental readiness emphasizes:

1. Connection to nature. 

2. Community involvement.

3. Hands-on learning.

 Each point guides the approach to teaching.

Green School Bali's immersive approach to environmental education caters to each stage of environmental readiness, providing learners with opportunities to explore, connect, and ultimately become stewards of the environment. This holistic approach challenges us to rethink how we engage with our students, ensuring that they develop a profound sense of responsibility towards the planet.

The Beyond Ecophobia and Stages of Environmental Readiness provides an overview of Sobel's theory, and some of the activities and topics appropriate to each age group as applied to Green School. This is an important consideration, especially when organising mixed-age activities, assembling presentations, or approaching new subject matter with our children.

 

 

Wall-Less Learning Environment

WALL (noun):  barrier, border, barricade, obstruction, divider, blockade, enclosure, impediment, restriction, confinement

A cornerstone of Green School's pedagogical approach is wall-less learning, which transcends the confines of traditional classrooms and embraces the natural environment as a dynamic learning space. This concept highlights the importance of cultivating a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around us. By embracing wall-less learning, we can create opportunities for our learners to engage with their surroundings, fostering a deeper connection to nature and a greater understanding of sustainability.

We can break down walls to create a democratic and vital learning environment. These are some aspects of Wall-lessness:

  • Teachers and Learners: Building relationships built on mutual respect

  • Mixed-age Learning: Creating learning experiences around mentorship and community connection

  • Indoor and Outdoor: Learning out in nature, in our neighbourhoods, and from the "real" world

  • Classroom and Community: Engaging with local issues, resources and expertise

  • Schedule: Creating longer periods of focus

 Sustainability Lens

Stonehill International School

 

 

 

According to Compass Education, sustainability means a set of systems conditions that allows humans to flourish indefinitely. Just like a regular compass, the Sustainability Compass has North, East, South and West directions.

 

Nature:
The underlying health and sustainable management of key ecosystems, bio-geo-physical cycles and natural resources. These can range from small, local and specific to the large, global and general.
 

 

Economic:  
The core issues or topic areas for Economy would relate to such things as production, jobs, markets, transportation, wages, labor conditions, and so on.
 

 

Society:
The emphasis here is on the collective rather than the individual. Issues might fall under or relate to some of the following: social cohesion, culture and arts, politics, laws and governance, planning and infrastructure, and so on. 
 

 

Wellbeing:
Covers issues such as personal health, access to education, quality of life, personal relationships with others, general happiness and fulfilment, and so on.

 

Educators can use the Compass to build a sustainability lens to any topic, issue, lesson, activity or project that they use with their students. Students can use the Compass as a lens to look for a big picture of topics/issues; for note-taking, forming questions, analysis and synthesis, and assessment. The Compass is a highly versatile but simple tool that provides a common language to teachers and students to always be thinking about sustainability, what we call having a “sustainability habit of mind”.

Ask our learners to use the Sustainability Compass to evaluate a daily routine. How can they make it more sustainable?

References: http://www.compasseducation.org/about/

 

 How will we Restore Broken Systems?

“Sitting at our back doorsteps, all we need to live a good life lies about us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround us. Cooperation with all these things brings harmony, opposition to them brings disaster and chaos.” - Bill Mollison

Powerful educational tool  - Permaculture is based on 12 principles that can be applied to community, ecological restoration, food production, and ethical economies. These principles can be thought of as lines of inquiry, each introducing a practical and meaningful perspective. 

It is centred around three big ideas called Ethics:

Care of the Earth
Care of People
Fair Share of Surplus

These Ethics give rise to the 12 Principles: (http://permacultureprinciples.com)

One of the most inspiring aspects of the Green Educators Course was the visionary leadership of John Hardy, the founder of Green School Bali. His passion for innovation and sustainability has propelled the school to the forefront of sustainable education, inspiring educators around the world. Learning about John's commitment to pushing boundaries in education encouraged me to think creatively about how we can incorporate similar principles into our own school's development.

The course also emphasised the importance of celebrating diversity and honoring the cultural heritage of our students. This really hit home for me because I strongly feel that when students feel connected to their local community and surroundings, it creates a sense of belonging and responsibility. It's all about making sure everyone feels included and appreciated in our learning environment.

The whole experience has sparked a renewed sense of purpose and passion in me as an educator. I am excited to share my learnings with my colleagues and work together towards creating a more sustainable and inclusive educational environment for our students. We may not have all the answers, but in a world that's constantly evolving, I truly believe that education must evolve too.

Together, we can empower the next generation to become compassionate, responsible global citizens who are committed to creating a brighter future for all.

In the words of Margaret Mead, 'We won't have a society if we destroy the environment.' Let's prepare our students to be the guardians of tomorrow.

Think of one significant change that you would like to invigorate your teaching practice with. The revolution starts with a single step.

What could you START doing?

What should you STOP doing?

What should you KEEP doing?

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