The annual SDRN conference was held last week at the Welcome Trust. For the first time in its 10 year history there was a slot on the programme for a focus on education (on ESD), and I was happy to be invited to speak in a crowded programme which, once more, left little space for discussion. My theme, stimulated by Chris Gayford's recent research, was that of the benefits of seeing ESD as citizenship education. In a recent paper, my colleague Andy Stables has argued that the prime curriculum focus in schools now should be on the development of skills of critical thinking, dialogue and debate, with environment and sustainability one of many focuses. Andy argues that, whilst openness to the real public debate is crucial, it’s vital to remember that capacities are not outcomes, that they don’t simply precede outcomes, and that, to a large extent, it’s the making of real-life decisions that most fully develops the capacity for exercising responsible citizenship. This seems to me to be a good reason to enable students to begin to practise such real-life, decision-making in schools, and the curriculum niche known as citizenship seems the most appropriate niche (and a – and mainstream one at that) within which schools can pursue ideas around sustainability. Good for ESD; good for citizenship, you might think.
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