The Triannual Newsletter
Sustainability at Stonehill
Volume 12, Issue 3, June 2023
- Head of School Message
- Perspectives from the Primary School
- Perspectives from the Secondary School
- Boarding Focus
The focus of this edition of the Triannual Newsletter is Sustainability at Stonehill. We actively invest in incorporating sustainability into various aspects of our school community. By implementing eco-friendly practices for a greener campus, our dedication to sustainability extends beyond the curriculum.
Sustainability - what it means to our youngest learners?
I wondered…so I went and asked questions - and this is what they said…
Our six-year-olds tell me it is about caring for the earth, sharing the planet and looking after the environment.
Our eight-year-olds added on by saying we have to protect the environment for a very long time.
And finally, our ten-year-olds say we have to have a good balance to ensure our personal and collective well-being, a healthy economy and an environment that can support living things for many years to come. Phew! What more do we want/need when we have thinkers like this?
Much more to be honest. The talk comes easy, the reality is somewhat of a struggle.
In the Primary Years Programme (PYP) we have a unit of inquiry called Sharing the Planet. This transdisciplinary theme is defined as, “An inquiry into the rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution” (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
Sustainability can appear in any unit through key concepts like connection and change, and as a related concept that stands out as a driver to the inquiry. Connections to the UN Sustainable Development Goals appear throughout the curriculum, ensuring the real-world is embedded in our programme. Our mapped skill development (Approaches to Learning) ensures that the students have the tools they need to be successful. Hence, sustainability is entrenched in our curriculum structure. It is written, taught and assessed.
Now that we have a community mindset and educational outcomes in place. What's next? Our action is what is missing - how do we live it? How do we create an environment that supports sustainability on differing levels? How do we give students opportunities to have voice, choice and ownership - and to “live the talk”?
Student Voice is our version of Student Council. Elections are held where students choose representatives - P3 through to P8 - five-year-olds through to eleven-year-olds. These students meet fortnightly to discuss issues important to those they are representing, and opportunities and challenges shared by the Primary Leadership Team. Some of the sustainability issues the students have brought to us and they have worked on are:
- Food wastage at the cafeteria
- Sick trees on campus (white ant infestation)
- Shade on campus
A chapter of Roots and Shoots, the Jane Goodall initiated movement, has been started as an After School Activity. Their work includes saving the old trees of Bangalore and making others aware of the global sustainability challenges facing us. Giving them a greater voice in the future empowers our students to speak out and not be afraid of offering alternate opinions and solutions.
This Action - or walking the walk - sets us up for overall development, giving our students what they need to be the thinkers and positive responders of tomorrow.
Primary School Principal
Sustainability is the Foundation of Our Future
“We cannot solve the challenges of today with the solutions of yesterday. We must empower teachers and students to become changemakers that value and honour the interconnectedness of our way of life and life on this planet.” (Compass Education)
The Sustainability Compass
In the Primary school, we use The Sustainability Compass as one of the strategies for sustainable decision making. A regular compass helps us map the territory and find our direction.
The Sustainability Compass does the same thing for sustainability. It takes the English language directions - North, East, South, West - and renames them, while keeping the same well-known first letters.
- N is for Nature: All of our natural ecological systems and environmental concerns, from ecosystem health and nature conservation, to resource use and waste
- E is for Economy: The human systems that convert nature’s resources into food, shelter, technologies, industries, services, money and jobs
- S is for Society: The institutions, organisations, cultures, norms, and social conditions that make up our collective life as human beings
- W is for Wellbeing: Our individual health, happiness, and quality of life
Our teachers use the Sustainability Compass to build a sustainability lens to any unit of inquiry, issue, or learning experience that they inquire into with their learners. The students can use the Sustainability Compass for note taking, forming questions, analysis and synthesis, and assessment. The Sustainability Compass is a highly versatile but simple tool that provides a common language to teachers and children to always be thinking about sustainability, what we call having a “sustainability habit of mind.”
In conclusion, implementing sustainable decision making strategies is an excellent opportunity for learners to engage with important global issues and develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to become responsible, informed, and active global citizens. By focusing on sustainability, our learners can make a tangible difference in their communities and contribute to a more just and equitable world for all.
Seed to Table
The 'Seed to Table' programme was more than just an after school activity – it was an adventure that had the learners buzzing with anticipation. They embraced the challenge of growing carrots and applied permaculture principles to make the process more sustainable. As the saplings grew, they were amazed at how their efforts had contributed to the creation of new life. They worked together as a team, engaging with the soil, playing with grass, and even creating songs and games around the garden.
The learners' enthusiasm and teamwork demonstrated the three key permaculture principles of earth care, people care, and fair share, creating a sense of connection to the natural world and to each other. We were thrilled to see them become confident, experienced, and compassionate garden ambassadors, actively promoting sustainability in their community.
Sustainability in P3
Our learners explore and interact with materials, natural resources and nature through play, helping them build a relationship with the environment. The connection built, aids in developing awareness, appreciation and responsibility towards biodiversity. Nature walks, nature scavenger hunts and an outdoor learning environment provided our learners with opportunities to deeper understand the interdependence of natural systems. The understanding helped our learners to be mindful of the actions that impact the environment and think more sustainably.
This edition of the Triannual newsletter focuses on sustainability and you will find many examples of the work our students and teachers have been doing in this area.
I would like to focus here on the mindset needed to ensure ‘sustainability’ becomes a consideration for everything we do at school.
International schools are notorious for being fast-paced, highly transitive, short-term communities for both students and teachers. The focus of our work is often on ‘transition’ to ensure that everybody feels at home in our school culture, and new students and teachers are often full of ideas and new suggestions for how we could do things. Obviously, any school community wants to benefit from such new ideas; however, problems occur when the new ideas are too closely connected to individual motivation and are, therefore, lost when those individuals move on.
Such problems often occur with our service projects, and it feels as though we are starting from scratch every year with new students. To combat this problem, the Secondary School will be expanding the ‘House System’ next year to include service projects and initiatives (not only sports competitions). Each house will be connected to a particular area of service work (e.g. alleviating poverty, literacy and education, environment) and students and teachers from the house will be expected and encouraged to contribute to relevant service opportunities. This should ensure that the service projects that we create become sustainable over time due to the connection with the house structure.
We are also restructuring the Student Council to ensure closer alignment between STUCO, our House Captains, and our Advocacy Groups (Girl Up, GSA, etc.). Again, the purpose is to solidify and coordinate activities across the school to ensure that we have fewer ‘one-off’ projects and events, and more ingrained activities on a year-to-year basis.
In the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP), I&S (Individuals and Societies) play a crucial role in developing students' understanding of the world they live in and their place within it. A concept explored in I&S is sustainability, which encompasses the complex interplay among social, economic, and environmental factors.
Significance of Sustainability in MYP Individuals and Societies
Individuals and Societies provide a platform for MYP students to explore and critically analyse real-world issues, encouraging them to become active and responsible global citizens. Sustainability is a key lens through which students can understand the complexity of contemporary challenges such as climate change, poverty, inequality, resource depletion, and social injustice. By engaging with sustainability-related topics, the students develop a holistic perspective, empathy, and a sense of agency, enabling them to contribute positively to society.
Sustainability in Class
In an ever changing world, understanding the concept of sustainability has become increasingly crucial. The M2 students embarked on a comprehensive exploration of sustainability, delving into its connection with the subject units on “How has globalisation shaped the world?” and “Why are natural environments important to individuals and Societies”
Understanding Globalisation and Its Effects
In the globalisation unit, the journey began with the students diving into the causes of globalisation, examining how this phenomenon has shaped various aspects of our world. They explored the influence of globalisation on languages, sports, the gaming industry, wildlife, agriculture, and farming. This investigation illuminated the opportunities and challenges brought about by globalisation, paving the way for a deeper exploration of sustainability and its role in this global context.
- International Baccalaureate. “SERVICE AS ACTION.” International Baccalaureate, 2020, Accessed 10 May 2023.
- youmatter.world. “Sustainability - What Is It? Definition, Principles and Examples .” Youmatter, 18 June 2021, Accessed 10 May 2023.
Secondary Librarian & MYP Individuals & Societies
In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The challenge to our School, situated in Bangalore, is how do we not compromise our current resources? How sustainable is the current usage of our water and electricity resources? Certain practices are in place to conserve energy.
These include solar panels, recycling grey water and consistent actions by our support staff. However, the paradox is that our international community of teachers, students and parents are involved in creating development that only meets our current needs. Many of our daily actions at Stonehill, involving water, energy and technology, are unsustainable and need to be challenged. Behavioural changes are required.
The vision of the IBO closely aligns with the vision of Stonehill International School.
The M1 students investigated why water is used unsustainably in Bangalore. Each family at home measured the amount of waste water generated by their water filter. It was predicted that a fraction of waste water was produced. Instead, they discovered that, due to the hard water in Bangalore, a greater waste water ratio, containing salts, in comparison to drinking water is released daily.
Certain families use hard water to wash dishes, clean floors, or flush toilets. These behavioural changes contribute to sustainability.
- Brundtland, G.H. (1987) Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Geneva, UN-Dokument A/42/427.
- Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of the International Baccalaureate. Past, present, future: the IB is a leading edge in a changing world. International Schools Journal, Vol. XLII, NO 1, Spring 2022
- UNESCO. Education for sustainable development: a roadmap. 2020. Accessed 10 May 2023
- UNESCO. Education for sustainable development (ESD).2013. Accessed 10 May 2023.
Sustainability at Stonehill Boarding
In today's world, teaching students about sustainability has become critical for educators as the world grapples with climate change and environmental degradation. At Stonehill, sustainability is not just a buzzword; it's a way of life.
Environmental sustainability is an essential aspect of the Stonehill community as we take significant steps to tackle this issue head-on. One of the primary ways we have addressed waste management is by teaching everyone to recycle and it has become a fundamental aspect of our campus culture. By actively participating in recycling programs, we remarkably reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
Our weekend boarding programme includes the student-led initiative, the Hesaraghatta Lake Clean-up Project. This is a recurring opportunity for our boarders to actively restore the environment. The collected waste is transported to EcoGram, a dry and wet waste collection centre near our campus. Not only does this help keep our surroundings clean, but also educates our students on the importance of taking care of nature.
We have also implemented other measures to minimise waste and promote sustainability such as the recent ban on the use of styrofoam cups and plastic water bottles on campus. Alternatives introduced include porcelain cups and glass water bottles, effectively reducing our non-biodegradable waste. This change has become the new norm on campus, and I am thrilled to see everyone embracing it.
We are proud to highlight the ongoing efforts of our boarding staff and students in promoting communal sustainability. From switching off lights and air conditioning to conserve energy to actively seeking opportunities to save water, our students have conscientiously embraced these choices. These small yet impactful actions can collectively make a lasting impact.
Sustainability is a collective effort and we commend our boarding family for their dedication towards this goal. We encourage our boarders to continue making sustainable choices in their daily lives toward a greener, safer, and better future.