WHAT IS EDUCATING FOR SUSTAINABILITY?
When we only educate “about” sustainability, it’s too easy to relegate it to the science curriculum at just one grade level for just a couple of weeks duration.
When we educate “for” sustainability, we match the rigor of academics with the most pressing and relevant problems we can imagine. Indeed, this generation has no choice but to seek sustainable solutions.
This century will be defined by the collective, creative, commitment of those educated for a sustainable future.
All students graduate educated for a sustainable future through the integration of the environment, economy, and equity, with the ability to apply systems thinking to community problem solving. The term “Educating for Sustainability” becomes synonymous with excellent education for all.
4 PRINCIPLES OF EDUCATING FOR SUSTAINABILITY
EfS empowers students to make decisions that balance the need to preserve healthy ecosystems, promote vibrant economies, and provide equitable social systems.
RELEVANCE MEETS RIGOR
When students learn in context of local relevance, they are more motivated to achieve academic excellence.
EfS increases connections between students and their communities and promotes healthy lifestyles, belonging, and a sense of local ownership and responsibility.
Stakeholders collaborate around a common agenda, shared measurement systems, and mutually reinforcing actions to solve complex, cross-sector challenges.
WHAT IS PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING?
Students as Stakeholder / Teacher as Coach: PBL creates a learning environment in which teachers coach student thinking and guide student inquiry, facilitating learning toward deeper levels of understanding while entering the inquiry as a co-investigator.
Increases Motivation: PBL engages students in learning through the attraction or pull of problem tension. They take on more and delve deeper as they make a personal investment in the outcome of their inquiry.
Promotes Higher Order Thinking: Coupled with cognitive coaching strategies, the ill-structured problem scenario calls upon critical and creative thinking by suspending the guessing game of: “What's the answer that the teacher wants me to find?" Students gather information significant to the problem and assess its credibility and validity. In bringing the problem to acceptable closure with evidence to support decisions, students meet high benchmarks of thinking.
MESSY BUT WORTHY
Problem-based learning engages students as stakeholders immersed in a messy, ill-structured, problematic situation of value to them and their community. PBL organizes curriculum around this holistic problem, enabling student learning in relevant and connected ways.
PBL LEARNING PATHWAY & PARAMETERS
Educators present the problematic situation first.
It serves as the organizing center & context for learning.
The problematic situation has common characteristics:
ill-structured & messy
often changes with the addition of new information
not solved easily or with a specific formula
doesn't result in one right answer
Students are active problem-solvers & learners.
Teachers are cognitive & metacognitive coaches.
Learners share information but personally & individually construct knowledge.
Discussion & challenge expose & test thinking.
Assessment is an authentic companion to the problem & process.
Students meet academic standards in context of solving real-world problems measured by existing community metrics.
WHAT IS PLACE-BASED EDUCATION?
Goals of Place-based Education include:
Student Achievement: PBE makes learning concrete and relevant to students’ lives, helping teachers reach all learners and improving student engagement, academic achievement, and sense of personal efficacy.
Community Social and Economic Vitality: PBE forges strong ties between schools, community organizations, and community members, contributing to community pride, sense of place, and quality of life.
Ecological Health: PBE helps cultivate a sense of care and responsibility, leading to stewardship behavior.
Place-based education (PBE) immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities, and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and other subjects across the curriculum.
Service-learning fosters vibrant partnerships between schools and communities to boost student achievement and improve community health and vitality--environmental, social and economic.
Service-learning emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving, engages participants in and addresses real world issues, and develops and fosters civic skills and participation in youth.
Research shows that when service-learning is implemented effectively students’ academic success, civic participation, and character are positively impacted.
WHAT IS SERVICE LEARNING?
Academic Success: Service-learning helps students develop academic skills and knowledge and is often associated with increased test scores and grades. Students who participate in service-learning are motivated and excited about learning. Research has shown that service-learning increases student attendance and reduces drop-out.
Civic Participation: Service-learning provides opportunities for students to engage in real world problems while learning about and engaging in the civic process. Students act as citizens now and into the future.
Character: Service-learning has a positive impact on the social development of youth. Research shows that service-learning increases student’s sense of civic and social responsibility as well as their ability to understand multiple perspectives and relate to diverse groups.
See one-page overview developed by Shelburne Farms’ Sustainable Schools Project; What is Service Learning?
WHAT IS STEM LITERACY?
STEM literacy is the ability to identify, apply and integrate concepts from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to understand complex problems and to innovate to solve them. STEM literacy is achieved when a student is able to apply his or her understanding of how the world works within and across the four interrelated STEM disciplines to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions of their local and global community.
STEM literacy is achieved when a student is able to apply his or her understanding of how the world works within and across the four interrelated STEM disciplines to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions of their local and global community.