It seems to me that one of those seminal moments is approaching, when we shall have to decide whether sustainability in schools is to be seen and treated as just another initiative, a bit like environmental education or global citizenship have been; that’s to say as interesting and even sometimes innovative in a take it or leave it sort of way, but set firm within our existing, conservative curriculum framing that’s been essentially economy-oriented for 150 years. Or is to be seen and used as a means of changing that framing into something more oriented around ecological integrity and social justice?
A slightly different way of thinking about this question is to ask this: Is it enough for a school to address sustainability (creatively and effectively) through its teaching of young people and the opportunities for learning that this generates – or does a school have to live out sustainably – to be sustainable, in the widest sense, as an institution that’s an integral part of its community?
The rhetoric of the sustainable schools initiative leads us to the second of these with 2020 as a target date, and Ken Webster adds some substance to what this might mean with his description of a sustainable school as eco-restorative with positive contributions being made both socially and environmentally, as well as through student learning and the development of capability. This is an exacting target which will not be met.
But there's a choice to be made here, which will determine strategy. It's an issue of how radical we want to be – of how radical we feel that we need to be. Which way shall we leap, I wonder?